Category Archives: Life Lessons

Thanksgiving and the end of an era… Oh and did I mention we are moving?

This year we did anti-Thanksgiving. We cleaned out the refrigerator and made chili and didn’t go anywhere or have anyone over. Right now the house is in shambles – six days to moving day and it looks like its six days to moving day… Today (black-Friday) I took Lucy out to run some errands with me and she was so excited that there are Christmas decorations up and Christmas displays out and about and she wanted to look at, touch and to buy everything… I had to keep reminding her that Christmas would be at her grandmothers this year – there will be no time to decorate at the new house. I feel terrible about all of this – what if this is the first holiday season she remembers and I totally phoned it in? She had white fish and macaroni and cheese for Thanksgiving diner – made up only slightly by the store-bought pumpkin pie I got to keep one small modicum of tradition. I totally suck as a parent.

I’ve been struggling recently with Lucy’s monthly newsletter – she’s becoming so grown up I know at some point I need to respect her privacy and not splay all of her adventures and heartache and misadventures all of the Internets. I justify doing this up until now because this site it only really accessed by close friends and family but not always… today I checked the site stats and there were 20 hits from Germany last Friday – 20 pictures clicked on and what? Downloaded where? I have nothing protected I have nothing encrypted. I think it might be time to discontinue these public forums of her sprouting into adulthood. Those who know me well can see her anytime and her grandmothers get nearly daily pictures via text message.

I’m not going to shut the site down but I am going to protect her. A new chapter is beginning in our lives and I think this needs to be one of the changes that has to happen. I will still continue to rant and blaspheme as much as I can, when I can. I have a feeling that life in the suburbs might spark more angst and material than I am currently used to.  We have already been dragged into some weird neighborhood politics and we haven’t even moved yet. I’m really looking forward to this….

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Just a typical Monday night

This afternoon I came home from work, completely exhausted from my day. Lucy was having a melt down because another kid in the neighborhood hugged me – hugged me, she was so distraught that I literally had to just throw her over my shoulder and drag her into the house fireman style along with her bag and my bag and a random sampling of dirty coffee mugs from my office and her fuzzy pink hoodie and her favorite teddy bear and Ariel and Ariel’s hairbrush.

I dragged everything and everyone inside, kicked off my shoes, started a pot of boiling water for a quick and easy spaghetti dinner as I broke up a cat fight with my foot and ripped a hole in my stockings. I threatened death to the little kitty if she ate one more unattended stick of  butter off the kitchen counter when the doorbell rang.

I was trying to get rid of the reformed crack head selling subscriptions of unpopular magazines as I smelled the unmistakable smell of cat urine. I quickly closed the door and began the hunt for the offending odor just as the water on the stove began boiling over.

I was on my way to take care of that when I heard a life screeching wail from Lucy upstairs, I ran up there as the smoke detector went off, seemingly trying to drown her out.

I discovered Lucy standing on our bed, pants around her ankles, very expensive anti aging nighttime face cream all over her hands from being rubbed in to her private parts, a $40 a bottle of anti aging serum she mistook for butt cream. And you know? Anti aging serum apparently stings really bad when rubbed on sensitive areas.

I swept her off the bed, threw her in the tub with the water running, ran downstairs to stop the infernal smoke detector as my neighbor called to make sure we are all okay.

I took the boiling water that has mostly spilled all over the stove off of the heat as I ordered a pizza, wrapped Lucy up in a silky bathrobe, turned on Dora the Explorer as I resumed the hunt for the rouge cat pee.

Now I’m relaxing with a large cocktail while I fold two loads of laundry…

How was your day?

A half-hearted apology and a lot of excuses

This poor website is starting to look a lot like the house I live next to – neglected, abandoned and empty for going on seven years… poor little website has grass growing up between it’s bricks.

I do apologize, especially to those of you that use this platform as a way of feeling better about your own lives when compared to some our our tribulations…

I wish there was a good reason that I have been so neglectful for the past month and a half but like with most things in my life there are no good reasons. We took a family trip to Maine and I had every intention of updating when I  returned and regaling you with a photo montage – like I do. And then Lucy turned 37 months old and I had not the stamina nor energy to mark it in any particular sort of way and now she’s pushing 38 months and I still have yet to do anything. In my defense my job is very busy and demands a lot of time so updating at the office is no longer an option and usually when I get home at the end of the day I have all I can do to put on some sweat pants and pour some wine while I drink with my neighbors and wait for my husband to get home and do something about dinner. It’s a tough life.

Here in a classic power point bullet fashion are the highlights you’ve been missing out on:

  • Lucy is three and says thing’s like “Mom, I’m not happy with you right now.” And “Mom, I just want to hang out in my room by myself what is your problem?” good times.
  • We recently adopted a kitten, a scrawny ally cat off the mean streets on west Philadelphia. I had this crazy notion that Ruka might be lonely and sad without Guinness around and a little kitten to mother might be just the thing her maternal instincts need to placate her in her golden years. I was oh so wrong about so many things.
  • We have decided to ready our house to put it on the market, sell it and move to the word of suburbia, but our house is brimming with crap and now most of it smells like cat pee (see second bullet point).
  • Work has been nuts and on top of still being new and learning how to deal with my voluminous work load I am now training the newest member of my team (WTS?) They are compensating me for this extra effort with additional time off – if only I had the time to take it.

In other news I went out one night on a Wednesday – it was unprecedented and will most likely not occur again until Halley’s comet loops back around. Today I toured the most amazing house in my most desired location – it was everything I ever wanted in a forever home. It’s priced right and if I know anything about anything from my obsessive real estate research these past couple months it is probably already sold or will be by the time we get our act together and are able to list our house and get approved and write an offer and and and…

I need a nap.

Nervewracking

Maybe its because its his first day, maybe its his newness that is making me all sweaty and heart-poundy. God knows I’m not good at confrontation, I once dated a guy  for nearly a year longer than I wanted to because I couldn’t come up with a way to say “I don’t want to do this anymore.”

On the way to work today I practiced a pep talk for myself, said out loud in the car “It’s not personal – it’s something I just need to do.” And probably at 7:45 when I got here I could have done it, but my new boss waited until 4:05pm on his first day at work to make an appearance. Who does that? Who makes me sit for eight hours listening to the voices go un-checked in my head?

It’s been nearly five months since I applied for this new job – I have played so many mental scenarios about how this might go down but I never imagined it would be to a brand new boss on his first day.

Sorry, Rick…

~
20 Minutes Later

Of course, it didn’t end up being my new boss that received my finely typed up notice, but my bosses boss – my old nemesis that treated me like his administrative assistant and at one point had me setting up his travel arrangements. He wouldn’t make eye contact and spent our time chewing loudly on a wintermint before he informed me I should start looking for my replacement before I go.

Just like the three weeks I spent on the 3rd shift of that plastics plant assembly line in Vineland New Jersey, I’m going to let the last eleven months teach me to appreciate how good I have it and to recognize the difference between petty inconvenience and downright atrociousness.

 

An impassioned plea for humanity at large

Try and remember what it was like to be a child. Try and remember when you where short enough to be amazed by grass and trees and caterpillars.  Try and remember a time when you believed that the world was good and there was a huge black line between right and wrong – not just a wavering gray spot.

Try and remember that life is short and that we (most likely) only have one chance to be here on this one known planet that turns carbon dioxide into oxygen and  that pours life giving water from the sky. This planet that produces the ingredients for cream filled donuts and full bodied cabernets.

We were given a chance at life: to enjoy ourselves, to feel good, to love one another, to be hedonist or philanthropists or grouchy old men who shake their fists at young whipersnapers. We were given the opportunity to be whatever we want to be be.

We all belong to one huge team of humans – there is no one else like us anywhere, we can create life and make our stay in this world amazing. We have the power to collectively draw together and make music, create art, explore the universe. We also have the ability to destroy ourselves, to turn against one another and serve as an example of a truly advanced life form that cannot contain the evil and destruction that also resides in all of us.

There are two paths, we must at some point turn back and look for the other way, because I am so afraid that we have gotten lost and taken a wrong turn. There cannot be good without evil, there cannot be light without dark – it is all about how we chose to live our lives, the actions and dreams and goals we set forth.

If you are out there and reading this and feel the need to buy a gun or harm an innocent person, if you ever contemplated the idea of getting even with civilization as a whole or just one person in particular who wronged you by making a name for yourself as a serial killer, please stop and go talk to someone. It is not our decision who gets to live or die, this judgement is bigger than any of us, bigger than all of us. Get to the root of your anger and understand that there are other ways to send a message.

I pray for us all.

Honeydew

When my husband and I bought our house many years ago it came with a big hole in the front of it. This hole served as a home to several families of neighborhood birds and also made it affordable to us and our shoestring budget. After moving in we hired some very nice contractors to evict the birds and fix the hole, mostly because the birds where not friends with the squirrels that were currently residing in our attic and also the hole created unwanted air conditioning in our master bedroom.

The hole was fixed right away and we spent the first summer in that house scraping and repainting the front facade but the damage done to the interior walls and the 85 year old plaster was pretty bad. We learned, like any good homeowners to simply stop looking at it. I parked a big chair in front of that wall and spent the next six years piling giant loads of laundry on top of it.

Last year the adjacent wall that lines the chimney also began to bubble and get soft, again a very nice masonry contractor came and fixed the problem but that wall continued to sit there and mock us with its damage. Eyes averted we continued to pretend that everything was okay.

Finally, with not so distant dreams of selling the house and buying something  more spacious and less water damaged we finally concluded the time had come  for action.

To that end, this past week my husband took off of work, moved our bed into our cramped back office/library/guest bedroom and endeavored to fix the problem.

My husband is awesome and has a number of excellent traits, working fast on a small deadline is just not one of them. He is… meticulous and precise in everything he does. When we first got together he once saw me making a salad by ripping apart lettuce all haphazardly with my hands  our relationship nearly ended there.  He brings order and organization to my otherwise chaotic and deranged life.

Needless to say I was dubious about how this whole project would go on a tight seven day deadline. I decided to document the experience – please excuse my blurry cell phone pictures (I believe I own the last phone manufactured without a flash) :

This is what our walls looked like pre-project:

Last Sunday - notice all of the variations in this blurry photo are sift spots on the wall that when touched crackle like tissue paper
Last Sunday – notice all of the variations in this blurry photo are soft spots on the wall that when touched crackle like tissue paper
Notice how here the plaster is completely disengaging itself from the pesky wall...
Notice how here the plaster is completely disengaging itself from the pesky wall…

When I came home from work on Monday night, this is what I walked in to:

Look - we live on a set of an episode of the Wire...
Look – we live on a set of an episode of the Wire…

When I arrived home on Tuesday, this is what I saw:

This may appear to the untrained eye that the only thing that happened on Tuesday was that the ladder was moved... but I was ASSURED much work went on that I could not see...
This may appear to the untrained eye that the only thing that happened on Tuesday was that the ladder was moved… but I was ASSURED much work went on that I could not see…

On Wednesday dry wall started going up:

Progress!
Progress!
sweet sweet progress
sweet sweet progress

On Thursday my sweet husband turned 39 and I found him in the shower drinking a beer when I got home (he got thirsty while showering – he wasn’t just huddled in the tub drinking alone) mostly he was celebrating getting this done:

Whao! What is that? A wall....
Whao! What is that? A wall….

We went out Thursday night to celebrate his birthday.

A quick side note to all of this: for his birthday I bought my wonderful husband a pair of slippers and a humidor. (Apparently I married my grandfather.)

On Friday I came home to find him painting the banister of our staircase, evidently the bedroom project was far enough advanced to move on to something else. I’m sorry but I didn’t get a picture of the banister.

Yesterday in preparation for his parents arrival (and my departure) later this week, we moved our bed and belongings back into our bedroom:

Look - how pretty!
Look – how pretty!

So now, I am referring to our bedroom as “Heroin Chic”… Maybe I’ll leave the really big chair that normally lives in that corner for the next owner. Two loads of laundry and you probably won’t even notice the wall.

Frankenstorm

I really love natural disasters. Definitely not the part where people get hurt and dreams get shattered, but I enjoy the sensationalism of it all. I equate calamities like Hurricane Sandy with events like the Olympic Games. Nothing brings society together better than potentially devastating weather events or world wide athletic ceremonies. It’s like for a small time we all stop focusing on our own problems and  concentrate our collective attention on something greater than us as individuals.

For this reason I have spent the last 48 hours glued to the TV, flipping between 24 hour coverage of the storm on the Weather Channel and 24 hour coverage on our local channels.  Hanging on every word of every press conference, tracking wind speeds here.

At one point my husband walks into the living room and informs me that there cant possibly be anything that I don’t know – that meteorologist should start calling me for updated information.  I had to hand him the remote as I admitted that he needed to change the channel because I could not physically do it.

For all intents and purposes Hurricane Sandy was a non-event in my small section of Philadelphia, but that doesn’t detract from anything except maybe the let down that there wont be another 48 hours of aftermath coverage. Of course if it was bad enough to have two days of aftermath coverage chances are I wouldn’t have electricity to watch it.

I am contemplating a generator for Christmas…

A brief mid-life freak out

I’ve never worried too much about getting old. I grew up in a large family where, no matter how you ran the numbers, I always ended up being the youngest; always sat at the kids table. I’ve been referred to as “Babydoll” and now, “Aunt Babydoll” for as long as I can remember.

Every birthday I think – it’s okay, I might be 30 but I am still younger than… fill in any family name here.

This all changed yesterday, when upon my arrival at work, I went to bathroom and found…

wait for it…

my first gray hair. Gray hair? WTF? Babydoll’s do not get gray hair.

What’s next spider veins and age spots? Is it one quick slide from here to liquefied diets and adult diapers?

I don’t want to appear melodramatic but I’m not sure there is that much time left between now and when I find myself being fitted for a new set of teeth.

Ah!

Silver Lining

There are many loathsome soul sucking reasons to dislike my job. Mostly its the people, the location, the mission… well its almost everything. But I believe the universe knew what it was doing when it compelled me to turn down a job at an established, accredited, nationally ranked University to work in the ghetto teaching “college” students where the control, alt and delete button are all located. And this reason is a certain little MINDBLOWING tradition –  I call it the cupcake sandwich.

It works like this, you have a cupcake, you know like this:

cupcake

And you could eat it and it would be good and you would move on and thank  your lovely neighbor who made it for you.

OR…

You could cut it in half and turn the top upside down and make a cupcake sandwich:

cupcake freaking sandwhich!

And in an instant you have the equivalent of a cream filled donut. No longer will you have to endure a full bite of only frosting or only cupcake. Suddenly equilibrium is achieved!

Oh happy day, happy day.

You would think there would be some intermediate step between Sex & the City and Roseanne

There was a time in my life when I was urban chic and I wore heals to work and I bought wine in bottles and I had a professional highlight my hair. I lived in the city and tried to channel my inner Carrie Bradshaw. I swore that when I had kids I would teach them French and not let them watch TV and feed them only wholesome organic food. Unfortunately I have noticed a marked decline in recent years of my chic-ness and last night I believe I reached an all time low.

I drove home from work in my subcompact car, took off my 2 year old beat up flats  and poured myself a large glass of wine out of the box  in the refrigerator. I parked Lucy in front of the TV and went into the kitchen to make HAMBURGER HELPER for dinner. Hamburger helper! that is neither organic nor wholesome nor even made with real cheese. And what’s worse is that when grocery shopping this week I opted for the cheaper meat – you know the 80/20 instead of the 90/10. I served the Hamburger Helper with white bread and butter (I hang my head in shame).

I don’t know when my inner Carrie Bradshaw was snuffed out and replaced with an alcoholic Rosanne Conner, but when I was upstairs later, a little drunk and trimming my hair with cuticle scissors I thought its high time for a new outfit and a night on the town.

Wherein I use the word underwear seven time, and oh yeah I mention MY.NEW.JOB.

After eight and a half months, 34 job interviews, one teaching presentation and four  trips to the dry cleaners I can finally conclude this episode of job hunters. I would like to thank my sponsor – the office of unemployment compensation.

I don’t know what happened yesterday, maybe it’s what didn’t happen. Let me back up, I tend to be a little superstitious about certain things – like I can only buy lottery tickets with single dollars, I have to get a random pick and I’m not allowed to look at the numbers until they are drawn. When it  comes to interviewing I have a lucky hair clip, I have lucky underwear  – I have to be there exactly ten minutes early… I spend a lot of my time worrying about things that (apparently) don’t matter.

Yesterday I went in for the aforementioned teaching presentation; while getting ready I decided to kick it up a notch and wear my wedding underwear. I decided a little extra luck couldn’t hurt, I don’t usually wear my wedding underwear although if we are being honest meeting my husband was probably the luckiest thing that ever happened to me, but you know for the wedding I went for looks, not so much  for comfort and well… it itches. (Is this too much information? Remember no one is making you read this). So I was all suited up and… itchy and when I went to do my hair I couldn’t find my lucky clip – it was no where. This is a bad bad omen because I don’t have a back up, there is no semi-lucky clip. There’s just the one I found under the bed while looking for the good one. A totally untested clip I was completely unfamiliar with. I hoped that my extra good underwear would somehow level out my luck quota back to where it should be.

Because of this serious dilemma I was running late getting to my interview – I got there only 5 minutes ahead of schedule and instead of having a few minutes to compose myself and inconspicuously adjust my underwear I was immediately whisked into the library where all the program directors where already sitting and waiting for me. I launched directly into my presentation and envisioned them all sitting there in their uncomfortable  fancy pants underwear.

As soon as I was done I was sent away with a dismissive wave of a hand and a promise someone would ‘be in touch’. The whole way home I cursed my missing hair clip – if only it had been tortoise-shell and not black I would have done so.much.better. I wondered if I had any singles so I could stop and pick up a lottery ticket (to balance out the universe and you know… make me not care that I would probably never hear from them again).

They called an hour later and offered me the position. I double checked that they knew who they were talking to ( to avoid any potentially embarrassing scenes later on). They assured me they called the right person, that they thought I did a great job and gave me all the details.

I can’t tell you what a HUGE weight has been lifted. I mean, I am very excited for this opportunity and to work at the  place I will be working (purposely vague) but I am more grateful not to spend hours everyday scouring the internet for job opportunities, not to sit by the phone every day and wait for good or bad news, not to be disappointed again and again because I was beat out by someone with more education, better experience, luckier underwear. Now, I can change my voicemail message back to something stupid and funny, I can return my sister’s briefcase I can start saving money and planning for the future.

YEA.

Adventues in parenting… and carpet cleaning.

Recently Lucy has started trying to help me in all sorts of ways – she likes to pick things up, unpack groceries… stuff like that. I try to encourage this – you know because I’m so lazy. However last Friday I learned two very important lessons 1.) She’s a little too young to really be helpful and 2.) It’s important to pay attention.

 Last Friday morning we were out running errands trying to get supplies for my first book club meeting. Have I mentioned Susan & I started a book club? I think our nerd meters just clicked up another level. Anyway, I was out buying cupcakes and wine… standard book club fair. I stopped at a bakery, you know like a real bakery, not the one in the back of the grocery store. Look at me being all fancy pants.

 The bakery gave us a dozen individual desserts including handmade crème puffs and red velvet cupcakes in a cute pink I’ve-been-to-the-bakery box. I gently carried it to the car and set it on the floor of the front seat and Lucy & I made three more stops before coming home. Once home, hands full, I carried the bakery box and bags of groceries out of the car and set them on the table on the front porch while I searched for the keys that I had had in my hand not 10 seconds ago. Once I got the door open Lucy, being helpful grabbed the bag containing the bakery box and tried to carry it inside, she banged it on the ground, dragged it to the door, over the threshold, knocked it against the door jam, ran inside and in her excitement to be home did a little twirl which launched the cute pink box out of the bag spilling most of its contents onto the living room rug. The dog was instantly on the scene eating one crème puff in a single gulp and getting a honey bun stuck to his front paw.  

 Fast forward to 5:00 that evening, we were upstairs so that I could change my clothes and try to appear less ‘unemployed.’ Lucy was helping by bringing me things that I didn’t need out of the bathroom. I was standing in the closet; I knew she was sitting behind me playing with some treasure from the bathtub. I located the shirt I was searching for and turned to her to discover that the treasure she had found was her bath soap, and not the little one we use every day but the big refill bottle – you know the 48oz bottle? Somehow she had managed to pry the top off and poured the entire 48 oz of Johnson & Johnson head to toe wash all over her and the carpet in our bedroom.

 It’s super important to pay attention and in the future I’ll make sure to carry the cupcakes myself.

Let the games begin

I dislike most people. I’m not talking evil people like Gaddafi or Palin although I wouldn’t want to share a Turkish bath with either of them. No, I’m talking about most normal everyday people, they seem to disappoint me quickly and thoroughly – they chew too loud, they misuse the word tedious. It’s rarely anything substantial, I tend to make quick, snap decisions and hardly ever change my mind. For instance:  I was recently befriended by a neighbor until one morning we went out for coffee and she put 8 packets of sugar in hers…UGH.

Because of this…personlity flaw, I have few close friends. It’s a small but elite club.

Fourteen years ago I started a new job and met a man named Jeff and it was a like I had found my long-lost twin – you know if my twin was a gay man who was born ten years before I was. We immediately became friends, we would commiserate about annoying customers over early morning bagels. We were together the day that the police came and carted away our only other coworker, arrested for embezzlement. This arrest got me out of the mailroom and into  a desk right next to my new friend.

Four years after I moved into that desk, I was sitting on Jeff’s patio drinking a vodka cranberry, explaining to him that I had decided to leave San Diego and move back east. He was the first one I told and I remember leaving his house that night saying “I want to stay in touch, years from now when I have a family ‘Uncle Jeff’ can come and visit and tell them stories about a place where it only rains three times a year.” I said this in jest because at the time could not fathom the idea that one day I would be mature enough to have a ‘family’.

In the past ten years there have been only a handful of days when we haven’t ‘spoken’ on one medium or another. Tomorrow, for the first time since I became a Mom, Uncle Jeff is flying in to discover what life is like living with a toddler. It’s going to take a lot of vodka and therapy but I have faith that we are all going to live through it.

I admire his courage.  I am also very glad that he is a quiet chewer.

I promise to use my powers for good and not evil

Yesterday I went to the eye doctor – something I’ve put off for the past two years. Unfortunatly I recently ran out of contact lenses so I finally had to bite the bullet.

The eye doctor makes me nervous, he invades too much of my personal space – I feel like having his face less than 2 inches from my face is more intrusive than my annual pap smear, at least during that I don’t have to look at anyone.

So, I went and miraculously my eyes have gotten better since my last vist, my prescription has been nearly cut in half. I was so excited figuring in another 2 years I wouldnt need glasses at all… Of course the “doctor” kept telling me that I don’t actually have regenerative powers that I must have simply been overprescribed last time I was there. He ran every kind of test on me he could think of to otherwise explain this “phenamenom.” He didnt find anything wrong. I could have told him that  because I’m pretty sure it’s obvious now that I’m some kind of superhero.

If only I could find a way to apply this to helping people in real life.

Old Friends

High school sucked. For reasons that had very little to do with high school itself – it was dreadful for me. Literally the morning after I graduated I got in my car (1986 chevy caprice classic, that was already tightly packed) and hightailed it out of there. I never looked back – I went west, and then I went further west and I made a new life for myself and tried agonizingly hard to forget where I came from and who I had been.  It seemed perfect that I could reinvent myself – as long as I never ran into anyone from my previous life. And it worked, well  it worked until one fateful day two winters ago, when, bored at work, I decided to join facebook.

My goal in the beginning was only to friend those I had met post high school and current acquaintances, but then I started getting friend requests from people in my graduating class… Casual connections at first.  Then it dawned on me that there were people I really wanted to get in touch with – and we started talking and it was great to see what direction their lives had taken and to see pictures of their families, they had families these same girls who I used to have sleepovers with.

This summer I was finally able to see them in person. For the first time in 18 years I drove into my old hometown (with my daughter in tow) and sat down with my friends and their families like no time had passed. And it was wonderful, it was wonderful not to have to explain to anyone where I came from and my background – these girls (women!) knew me, they knew me like no one else I have met since could and we talked and laughed and drank a lot of wine and let our kids play together and it made me sad that I had wasted all that time  trying to be someone else when all I really needed was people who really knew me.

I don’t regret the decisions I’ve made – life is MUCH too short for that – and I have had some amazing experiences that would never have happened if I hadn’t gone the way I did. But I have to say that its great now realizing that High school/junior high even elementary school wasn’t all bad – sure my circumstances were not what I wanted but we had fun, we had a lot of fun and it’s nice to be able to look back and remember those times now.

Of course now my only wish is that I lived closer so I could be a part of their lives, and they could be a part of mine, but does geography really matter?  They are already a part of my life, a missing part that’s good to have whole again.

A little Friday morning psychoanalysis

Back when I was attending community college out in California I took this communications class where our first assignment was to give a 10 minute speech on anything we wanted. I did mine on memory, how it worked and how best to remember things – it was good (obviously) because I still remember – I got an A+. I got a lot of A+s at community college. I would say that it’s because community college is pretty easy but I also got a lot of A+s in graduate school… which would make you think maybe I’m just really smart, but mostly I think it’s all about the bullshit – and I can bullshit really well.

Anyway, I digress. The reason I bring up this communication class is because right after I gave my very memorable memory speech the next woman to take the podium had just returned from her first trip to Hawaii. She spoke for 10 minutes on what she referred to as the ‘Aloha spirit.’ She talked about how in Hawaii everyone was so laid back and peaceful and she came away from there more relaxed and carefree than she ever had and wanted to cherish the ‘Aloha spirit’ and try to keep it as long as possible. I have never been to Hawaii but I imagine that you can capture this feeling anywhere, especially if you are on vacation and removed the normal stress and worry of your day to day life.

I feel like when I was in Maine I captured the essence of this. 99.9% of my stress comes from work, because I have a truly wonderful and patient husband and the best baby ever. When I first got my job here a friend who had just become my coworker said to me “Working here doesn’t involve diffusing bombs or operating on babies but it’s going to feel like that every day…” and he was right.

Being removed from work was like heaven. Away from the hostility and angst I was able to appreciate the fact that the little college I work for is not in fact the central pivotal access point on which the entire world rotates. I know many of my coworkers would disagree but I’m pretty sure I am right on this.

Since I have been back I have tried to hold on to this aloha spirit and not get sucked into other people’s aggression, so far so good. Yesterday I deleted several emails that were nothing but rants against the system that normally I would feed into. I even let some truly horrible and aggressive drivers in their giant gas guzzling SUVs cut in front of my on the way to work – even though they are ruining the earth and making me late – I decided that was their karmic dilemma not mine and since I’m not really sure what time I’m supposed to actually be at work – does it really matter if I’m a few minutes later?

I feel better – I’ve been sleeping better and even yesterday afternoon when Lucy dumped the dogs bowl full of food upside down for the third time I decided to just laugh instead of yelling at her.

I hope that I can continue to remember that what’s really important is not my bosses’ mood or the crises of the moment that our Dean has invented inside his head but my family and their health and happiness and safety (although she really shouldn’t be eating dog food).

Aloha.

The Amish don’t have internet access right?

my sister and I are always looking for a way to escape the corporate grind… so to speak. We would love nothing more than creating a cash cow and being able to sit back and take a break from the M-F 9-5 world.

At some point last year she emailed me this article about how Amish businesses don’t fail, it sparked this email trail:

her: “Business idea — be Amish.”

Me: “Being Amish makes me beileve my hair will alwayd be dirty and I’ll be itchy all the time…”

her: “They’re not hippies — they do bathe.  But maybe a line of natural Amish soaps?  BTW — my new neighbor owns a cheese-making business.”

Me: “I know they bathe but how good is homemade soap for your hair? These are things I worry about…
Maybe we could make a good natural soap for your hair – with a beer base (beer is really good for your hair) people are into natual/organic beauty products…”

her: “Maybe a whole line of natural beer products — beer to drink, beer for bathing, etc.  We can even start growing our own organic hops.”

Me: “This seems like a lot of work, lets just go drink some beer…”

I guess this also serves as a great example of why we have never been successful at starting our own business.

Fashion advice for the end of the world

When the world does finally come to a screeching halt and we are held accountable for our actions I hope that I am wearing something that requires a crinoline underskirt and a very sparkly headpiece. I mean I have seen a lot of movies and I have a feeling that I’ll be stuck in whatever fashion choice I made for a very very long time. Saturday I was wearing my favorite pair of Old Navy pants and a relatively cute top – but it wasn’t what I would have chosen for all eternity. I was however attending a family BBQ and thought it might be a bit weird if I showed up in my favorite brides maid dress and a tiara from Claire’s.

Needless to say I am pretty glad that current religious zealots were wrong. (Sorry to any religious zealots who frequent this blog – I am sure you are all exceptionally awesome – wrong but awesome). I remember when comet Hale-Bobb was supposed to signify the end of the world in 1997. In 1997 I was single and living alone – I had a lot of time on my hands to obsess about the possibility of judgment day.

So in order to prepare for the end of the world my underage friends (from Spanish class) and I decided that we should get dressed up and head to Tijuana to go drinking – because what’s more significant (and safer) than a  late night in Tijuana? We got all dressed up and headed for a night club south of the border.

In order to take the most advantage of underage American’s – you know keeping them drunk and alive – the locals have converted these great big windowless warehouses into all night dance clubs. They would charge you $10 to get in and then serve you all of the watered down tequila sunrises you could drink – served in plastic cups poured out of 5 gallon tubs.

They would pack hundreds of kids into these giant sweat lodges and lock the doors to keep out the criminal element. It would reach 120 degrees in there and there was no way to get out.  I don’t want to think about how many fire code violations were broken or how incredibly unsafe it was, but we went nonetheless – at least this way when the rapture came we would be in a big group of our new very best friends. We arrived sometime around 11:00pm and they didn’t opened the doors and let us go until the sun came up the following morning . We stumbled across the boarder, eating churros and bacon wrapped hot dog – restocking our supply of chicklets debating whether or not the rapture came and we had transported to the seventh level of hell or if we were, in fact, still in Tijuana.

Obviously I made it home safe and sound, but I did learn a valuable lesson – when preparing for the rapture you want to wear comfortable shoes – spending eternity in strappy sandals is simply not going to cut it.

Overwhelmed

I would like to create a t-shirt that says “I’m sorry I’m such a disappointment” and sit at my desk and not even pretend to do any work. Then people would know ahead of time not to ask me for anything. Maybe this would even work at home when my husband asks me things like “Are you going to stop drinking so much wine and do the dishes?” I can sadly shake my head no and point to my shirt.

Sometimes I yearn for my mid 20’s when expectations of me where minimal and simply making it through the day without falling on my head was a major accomplishment. Now, I have to worry about performance goals, and my five year plan. I need to follow the housing market and vote for a new mayor … being a grown up is such a pain.

A flashback to the single life

I celebrated Mother’s Day all weekend long and part of the celebration was a girl’s night out with my lovely sister on Saturday night. We had a great dinner at our favorite small BYO bistro and then bar hopped our way around Rittenhouse square just like we were ten years younger, childless and able to stumble two blocks home.

While we were having dinner a young good looking guy walked into the restaurant, sat down with his bottle of wine and nervously stared at the door for the rest of our meal… the last of our Chianti… and our round of cappuccinos. I felt so bad for him; all dressed up and so obviously hopeful.

It made me think about the time I was on a date in the restaurant just next to the one we were at. This of course was way before I met my husband and realized I would be a fool to ever let him go, knowing there are only a few good looking,  rational men in this world willing to put up with someone like me.

I had become a serial internet dater, mostly because I’m lazy and I just wanted to date people in slippers from the comfort of my own home. I had been chatting with a guy named Jay… Somethingorother. He seemed nice enough and so we had agreed to meet at a restaurant just around the corner from where I was living at the time. I got there early and Jay arrived shortly after – clearly 15 years older, 6 inches shorter and a good 20 pounds heavier than his profile and picture marketed him as. Now, I try not to be shallow but I truly believe that if you’re a 40 year old single man you are just setting yourself up for failure by using your high school graduation picture as your current photo.

But I had already had a cocktail or two so I was willing to ‘give it a go’ so to speak… It didn’t take long before I realized that it just wasn’t going to work out, we clearly had nothing in common, and I think he even made a comment about how much I was drinking… eh hem

About 45 minutes into our date, I legitimately got something in my contact lens – you know when you are tearing up and your nose is running and the makeup is half sliding down your face – it was obviously not a problem I could fix with a cocktail napkin. I decided that since I lived around the corner the smart thing would be for me to run home, remove my lens and come back – it would take less than 10 minutes.

So – I went home and swapped my lenses for my glasses. I had my hand on my front door knob just ready to hurry back to this unbearable date when I thought “Hm… do I really have to go back?” Jay Somethingorother knew I lived close but not exactly where, I mean wouldn’t I be doing us both a favor if I didn’t encourage it?

So – I stayed home and put on my slippers, poured a glass of wine and sat in the dark, you know just in case.  I felt bad, I really did – I mean I do have feelings.

The next morning I was barely awake, still lying in bed when the phone rang and guess who? Jay, bright eyed and cheerful asking if I wanted to meet him for brunch. “Huh?” I groaned into the phone, “But I left you at the bar last night…” Apparently he didn’t care, he wanted to buy me brunch and have me meet his dog.

It took three days of unwanted phone calls before I convinced Jay that it was never going to work out – I had never seen anyone try so hard and it just made me feel like maybe I was being unreasonable, why shouldn’t I date someone I don’t like, I mean if he’s really into me?

Fortunately for my husband, my daughter and my current lifestyle – I’m not that lazy -I decided not to settle. I am hoping that whoever that guy was at our restaurant Saturday wasn’t waiting for someone who changed their mind at the last minute, and if he was he moves on and finds someone awesome, did I mention he was really cute?

What a difference a day (or two) makes

There’s been a hot  debate in our houshold ever since Lucy came into our lives… siblings? See, I think kids should have brothers and sisters around – you know to put them in their place and fight with and learn to share with and to occassionally pin to the ground and drool in the face – I believe its what makes ‘normal’ people normal. So even though I’m getting older and we live in a house the size of a small shoe I have been presenting the arguement that we really need to have more kids.

My husband on the other hand, who is, as you know much more pracical than I am takes the other side of the arguement and believes that we can raise an only child and she can still end up ‘normal’. He grew up with two cousins who were only children and they turned out  surprisingly well – I , on the other hand am not related to any only children and therefore think his cousins are total anomalies.

He also has developed this theory than since we were blessed the first time with an amazingly good, cute child who can sleep on demand and stay that way for 14 hours if need be – it’s  like we won the baby lottery.  And no one wins that lottery twice ergo our second child would end up being Satan him/herself. I have to admit that this part of his arguement is the only part that makes the least bit of sense to me.

But still we argue because we both believed we were right… and then this weekend happened.

It all began innocently enough when my sister emailed me that she and her husband were going to Gettyburg this weekend and would we mind watching her 4 year old son Sean? Sure, I said – I mean at the time of the email it was way into the future and I figured anything could happen to prevent this from occuring – besides you never know when you, yourself has to take off to Gettyburg and drop your child off for a weekend with her aunt.

But nothing happened – no rampant Philadelphia wildfires or alien invasions and late Friday afternoon Sean was dropped off at our house. Let me pause here and say that Sean is a great kid, a fantastic one actually, he is quiet and respectful and able to entertain himself and put on his own shoes, he’s wonderful but he’s still 4.

He was here exactly 48 hours  and I’m ready stick an ice pick in my eye, I really am not sure why anyone would do this to themselves. My theory is that everyone out there with more than one child never had the opportunity to babysit more than one kid while they were trying to decide to have more.

After everyone was tucked into bed last night Jason & I sat in the livingroom, looked at each other and said “So – thats it then.” A huge wave of both relief and despondency flew through me. We toasted our decision with a 2/3 of a bottle of single malt scotch and I decided our daughter will also be an anomaly, and this way I’ll now have room for lots more shoes…

on traveling…

Just a few years ago – when I was 19 – I packed up everything I owned into one suitcase and one backpack, I bought a carton of Marlboro lights and a 12 pack of mountain dew and I moved myself from Pennsylvania to California – by train… Three days on the Amtrak Sunset limited with less than $20 in cash and for 72 hours I sat in a seat (no sleeper car for me) and dreamed of my new life in San Diego. I survived seven years with what I brought with me…

And then last week I went to Florida for a week – I took a suitcase of equal size, a diaper bag much bigger than my backpack and a small umbrella stroller. Lucy & I flew on a plane for 2.5 hours, and it was just about all I could take and you know what? I still had to go shopping because 3/4 of that suitcase was her stuff & and one point I really needed another pair of pants…

Before I became a mother I thought parents where crazy for buying so much stuff for their kids – I mean babies are small they should only need small things and not that many of them, right? I was sure everyone was crazy and since I live in a small house I figured I would seriously limit what we needed.

What I’ve learned since then… its not just toys, it’s things to keep them safe, things to keep them clean, things to help them eat… kids need stuff – lots of stuff and sure Lucy probably has twice as many toys as she probably really needs but I blame that on her overzealous grandmothers.

Kids need stuff – they need it at home and they need it away from home… I guess my days of 3 day train trips with nothing but the clothes on my back are just as long gone as my days of smoking… Once I thought that prospect would make me sad, but I wouldn’t give any of it up for anything – who cares if there’s no where to walk in my house and traveling  now requires a pack mule and extra handlers – at least I get to pre-board…

$706 later…

Last summer, I was pregnant and not just pregnant, REALLY pregnant – I had managed to pack on 33 pounds and looked like a dwarf planet walking around sweating like a human dwarf planet would sweat in 90+ degrees in Philadelphia in the summer. My feet were sore and I couldn’t consume enough Gatorade to get rid of the invariable dehydrated cotton mouth feeling that was my constant companion.

One super hot Saturday in the middle of July I decided to head off to Target to get one last thing (there would be many one last things) for the nursery and bask in the glow of full powered central air conditioning.  I backed out of the parking spot behind my house (which, I would like to add leads into a very narrow city-like alleyway) and I immediately heard the crunch of metal on metal. My natural instincts kicked in and screamed “FLEE!!!” and without hesitation I checked to make sure none of my neighbors were out back witnessing my adolescent flight response… and I gunned my car out of the alleyway and on the road to Target.

I tried to forget all about it and concentrate on my raging heartburn instead but I started feeling really guilty, and the constant stream of “no one saw you do it – no one saw you do it” running through my head wasn’t making that guilt lessen. I thought of the time I side swiped a small red coupe in the parking lot of my high school and how I was able to drive off without a second thought. I thought of that time while living in California when I forgot to engage my emergency break and my car rolled back into a Terminex truck and I was able to re-park it and go take part in whatever illicit activity I was engaged in where they might need termite control.

But I still felt bad, even after getting to the store and checking the back of my car and discovering there was barely a scratch on it…. I did my shopping and went home. I did an inspection of my neighbor’s car and discovered a big gash is the front quarter panel of his ridiculously delicate mid-life crisis class of car.

It took me three hours of searching what my best friend would call my feelers to discover that my guilt ridden conscience was not going to wipe itself clean. I thought maybe it was because I couldn’t drink my guilt away… But eventually from the back of my head, somewhere deep inside my cerebellum came an obnoxious screamy voice shouting “YOU ARE GOING TO BE A MOM – IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT TO TEACH YOUR KID. What would your Mom have done?”

Duh.

I immediately came clean to my husband, who gave me a very stern  ”I’m so disappointed in you” glare but who agreed to walk over to the neighbors house and ‘get my back’ in case anyone tried to hit his pregnant wife.

This was the first time I fully realized everything was going to change.