Category Archives for "Me"

May 28, 2008

She was just seventeen, if you know what I mean …

My fourteen year old daughter asked me the other day if she could get her working papers for a job this summer. After I picked my jaw up from where it had fallen on the floor, I said sure. Actually, it might have come out more like HOLY CRAP, YOU BETTER BELIEVE YOU CAN, GET IN THE CAR. And then I got all excited because I was actually seeing light at the end of that long, dark, scary, endless I-AM-NOT-AN-ATM-MACHINE-FOR-CRYING-OUT-LOUD tunnel.

It got me to thinking about my early days as a wage earner. I went the traditional route at first and built up a great reputation as a babysitter – little human beings loved me. I rotated between a couple of good, reliable families, sacrificed my weekend nights and made quite a bit of money for a couple of years. All right, perhaps “sacrifice” is a bit of overkill. I was a painfully shy fifteen year old with braces, glasses, bad hair, acne and I lived in a town 50 miles past the middle of nowhere. What else was I going to do with myself?

My babysitting career was brought to a screeching halt after I turned sixteen. I agreed to babysit for a new family with a toddler whom I like to refer to as Satan and that was the beginning of the end that came four hours later. This child’s parents had called me at the last minute, having been referred by someone who knew someone who knew someone. They practically begged me to help them out and at $2 per hour, I just couldn’t pass it up. I should have gotten a clue by the maniacal sprint they did to their car once the door closed behind me but I was naive.

Four hours later, I wasn’t naive anymore. Cleaning up thrown spaghettios, dirty toilet water and piles of poo scattered here, there and everywhere tend to knock the blissful ignorance right out of you. If the book had even existed back then, I would have said the Devil does not, in fact, wear Prada, he wears pull-ups and is three feet tall and I’d rather chew off my own tongue than babysit him again. This was painfully obvious to his parents as they pulled up to their house and found a blubbering heap of me on their front step. I resisted their pleas to give SISPU a/k/a Satan In Scooby Pull Ups another chance, mumbled something about being busy for the next two years and got the hell out of Dodge. I headed straight for the mall where I thereafter found my dream job.

I started work at a local record store in our mall and can I just say, THAT JOB ROCKED. I was seventeen with perfect teeth and good skin, thanks to Dr. Strauss and Neutrogena respectively. Puberty had finally gotten its act together and I was not all together hideous anymore. In fact, I looked pretty damn good. It was smack dab in the middle of the eighties which meant I had BIG hair and lots of it, tons of makeup, thick shoulder pads, shorty short mini skirts and high heels. Shiny black patent leather four inch heels, to be exact – the first to be seen at my high school, thank you very much. Sometimes I wore them with cute little frilly socks, sometimes I didn’t. Either way, I had a killer set of legs and a fantastic figure and I worked in a place that played the latest and greatest in albums and cassettes and attracted everyone who was anyone. In other words, I was cool for the first time in my life and I made up for lost time in a way only an attention starved seventeen year old wallflower-turned-hot-chick knew how: at warp speed.

It was vinyl heaven and we’d rip the cellophane off any album we wanted and whip that baby onto our state-of-the-art turntable, turn the sound up to sonic boom level and let it rip. We were next door to GNC Vitamin Center and our daily mission was to shake their bottles off their walls. It was usually mission accomplished by dinnertime, thanks to a particularly loud piece by Mötley Crüe. You’d think their manager would have pitched a fit, but more often than not, he’d be AWOL, only to be found sifting through our head banger section.

I loved my job. I heard all the new releases first, got huge discounts on all the music I loved, met some great people and got to dress up in funky clothes that I got at incredible discounts because I was a mall employee and friend to a lot of other mall employees. I learned to flirt and was surprised at how easy it was to get some extra sauce on my fettucini alfredo simply by inching my skirt up a bit. After work, I’d hang out with these friends, all of whom were older than me and into the bar scene. They took pity on poor underaged me, doctored up my license and next thing I knew, I was a faux 22 year old burning up the dance floors at Flashbacks and Club 2001. Good times.

Would someone mind checking on my mom? I think she just fainted.

It’s hard to believe that I got near straight A’s in high school considering the above, isn’t it? But I did. I managed to keep my priorities in order for the long haul even though they veered a bit off course in the short run. I’ll always be grateful to my friend Pete who had my back at all times, making sure I was safe every time I went out. He was convinced I would tire of the scene in short order and he was right because he was always right, something that used to piss me off at first but then became what I trusted most. Of course, the suspicious bouncer weighing in at 400 pounds at Club 2001 who confiscated my fake i.d., helped curb my underage wild ways as well. HE WAS SCARY.

Eventually, I found my way to college, maintained an almost perfect 4.0 grade point average, graduated Summa Cum Laude, became a productive taxpayer, got married and started a family, in that order. All of it to the immense relief of my parents as I think it’s entirely possible I may have shaved a couple of years off their lives.

(As a side note: I am now well-versed in the theory of karma, having a teenage daughter of my own right now. I TOTALLY GET IT.)

Anyway … that record store and the mall it lived in don’t exist anymore and I don’t know of anyone who even owns any actual vinyl today. Any remnants of that seventeen year old with the drop dead figure are long gone now. But sometimes when this 41 year old wife and mother of two plays the oldies station in her car and hears Smokin’ In The Boys Room, she’ll sing off key at the top of her lungs, ignore the gawkers in the passing cars, and tap her flip flopped feet on the gas and brake pedals. And for a brief moment, that woman will yearn for some shiny black patent leather four inch heels.

And some killer legs to go with them.

Peach Blossom Mist

I had planned 736 things to do today and not one of them is going to get done because I’ve already given up and it’s only 8:00 a.m.

Here is my washing machine. And as much as I would like to just toss these things into my dryer with a Bounce sheet and be done with it, I can’t. They’ve been sitting in my washing machine for approximately three days now and while you can’t tell from the safety of your home, in my home the sour stench emanating from my washer is about to make my eyes bleed. So I’m going to have to rewash them in blazing hot water with bleach and/or vinegar at least twice before they make it to the dryer. Can you tell this is a well trodden path for me? I am physically incapable of remembering to switch loads upon hearing the buzzer, in much the same way Nate is physically incapable of telling me he’s got something planned until five seconds before it happens. It’s just not in our DNA. And if I had an inkling of pride, I would have photoshopped that dirt ring right out of this photo but my pride jumped ship about twenty-five pounds ago so there you have it.

And once I do rewash that load, these are waiting for me.

Just looking at them sucks my will to live.

Maybe I’d feel happier about my predicament if I actually enjoyed being in my laundry room. Maybe deep down I subconsciously try to avoid my laundry room as much as possible because when it comes right down to it, I just don’t like it in there. When we bought this house, I was overjoyed that I was finally going to have a first floor laundry room. I had big plans for that room, plans that included gleaming white shelves, lace curtains, satellite radio and lots of wicker hand baskets. But those dreams took the express line straight to hell in one of those baskets because the key word here is “had.” As in, past tense. As in, I was delusional.

Notice the color of the walls? They’re a pale lilac, if you can’t tell. I hate them. Hate them with a deep, raging passion I usually reserve for bullies and those occasions when TiVo stops recording one minute before Lost actually ends.

I wanted a soft, pale peach for my laundry room. It was called Peach Blossom Mist and it gave me warm fuzzies and I loved it and it loved me. When I suggested it to Nate, he had to take what some refer to as “a moment” when he became very quiet and still for several minutes. When he came to, he calmly told me that Peach Blossom Mist did not match the flooring he had just spent all day installing. When I responded with something along the line of “who cares?” Nate had the closest thing to a seizure without actually having a seizure and from that, I got the general impression that LAUNDRY ROOM WALLS MUST MATCH LAUNDRY ROOM FLOORS, OR ELSE NOTHING WILL MAKE SENSE AND IS IT TOO MUCH TO ASK FOR SOMETHING, ANYTHING, TO MAKE SENSE IN THIS GOD FORSAKEN WORLD WE LIVE IN?

I’ve learned to pick and choose my battles and thus far, I’ve managed to keep my sanity at a level hovering just above nervous breakdown so I didn’t push it. I told myself that it was just a laundry room after all and nobody other than myself was going to spend any quality time in there so was it really that big of an issue that a good cry and Dove chocolate couldn’t cure? So I caved, otherwise known in the world of marital bliss as “compromised.” Before I knew it, Light Lilac or Pale Purple or whatever the hell you want to call it adorned my walls and my laundry room was declared “done.” It’s now 13,927 loads of laundry later and despite some heavy duty Dove gorging, I’m just not feeling the love.

Every time I am in that room, trying to maneuver among the swarm of dirty underwear and wet towels, I am immediately struck by the fact that I can’t even see the 2 foot by 4 foot section of flooring that shattered my dreams because of the amount of stuff, otherwise known as crap, covering it and I get an annoying little tick in my left eye. And it occurs to me amidst flurries of lint flying about my head and up my nose that if I could have foreseen the sheer number of hours I was going to spend in this very room prying apart sticky, sweaty, smelly socks from one another ad nauseam, I would have fought a whole lot harder for Peach Blossom Mist. And a hazmat suit.

I think we need to revisit this room, Nate. I think you know me well enough to realize I’m not above holding your comfy Fruit of the Looms hostage and the way I figure, you are the last person on the face of this planet to consider going commando so I think I’ve got some pretty good leverage.

I get my Peach Blossom Mist, Frank and Beans get to stay ensconsed in the 100% cotton comfort to which they’ve grown accustomed and all is right with the world.

And then maybe we can discuss a possible do-over of my office? Nate?

Twenty Things Every Mom Needs to Know

Last year, I had a layout published in which I dispensed some parenting advice that I had gleaned over my years as a mom. I’ve managed to keep my kids alive up to now so I think all of that advice still has merit and in my 4.3 minutes of allotted down time per day, I’ve gradually added to my arsenal. My goal is to have this mounted on a neon green 10′ x 10′ canvas and hang one in each of my daughters’ family rooms after they have children of their own. At the bottom, it will have a small, bronze plaque engraved with “I TOLD YOU SO. LOVE, MOM”

  1. My philosophy on parenting can best be described as a combination of “flying by the seat of my pants” and “baptism by fire” with a healthy dose of “winging it” thrown in for good measure.
  2. Save the $12.95 plus shipping/handling. No book is going to fully prepare you for the wonder that is projectile vomiting. You have to experience it first hand to truly appreciate all of its nuances.
  3. Television has the power to suck the ability to form a coherent thought right out of a child. Use this time wisely.
  4. Remember, there is no law that requires you to have fifteen of your daughter’s closest friends sleep over in your living room on her birthday and feed them all breakfast the next morning and no amount of hissy fits changes that fact.
  5. There is a direct correlation between raising a pre-teen daughter and the deterioration of cerebral function at warp speed. Who are you again?
  6. It’s one week before summer and your six year old insists on riding her bike into the road. What do you do? If your answer is to restrict her to your driveway and explain that you are simply trying to keep her safe and alive to enjoy the summer and, with any luck, her next birthday – good for you! Just be prepared for her to promptly fall off her bike in the driveway and suffer a spiral fracture of her lift tibia from ankle to knee, resulting in the summer being pretty much a bust. When she breaks her arm almost exactly one year later under identical circumstances, don’t say I didn’t warn you and I won’t say I told you so.
  7. The laws of physics simply don’t allow for seven friends to sit next to the birthday girl in a 2000 Honda Accord. It’ll be ugly but hey, you can’t fight the science.
  8. Any teacher worth his/her salt expects any mom worth her salt to negotiate the terms under which she will chaperone her kindergartner’s class field trip to the local zoo. As a mom and fellow human being, I encourage you to think of your own safety as it’s you against one hundred hot, sweaty little miscreants who haven’t eaten anything in three hours and who are demanding to pet the gorillas. Insist on a three foot perimeter “safe zone” protecting you from used tissue, chewed gum, sticky hands and various bodily fluids and gases. Bullhorns are a necessity, not a luxury. So is Xanax. If you feel your sanity is in jeopardy at any time, run far far away. If riding on a school bus is required, get the appropriate shots and demand combat pay. Make sure your affairs are in order. Just sayin’.
  9. When your five year old suffers a partially severed ear, requiring twenty stitches by a plastic surgeon in the ER and then asks if the mile of pink and purple bandaging around her head looks like “fashion,” just nod your head “yes” and try to ignore your clammy skin, greenish pallor, impending nausea, heart palpitations and acute dizziness. No one likes a drama queen.
  10. If you want your children to be able to function in the real world, then you better teach them how real time works. “Just a minute” does not mean sixty seconds, it means “whenever the hell Mommy feels like it.” So shut up already about the big hand and the little hand because you’re ruining it for the rest of us.
  11. In a perfect world, your pediatrician’s office has self-sterilizing toys, snack machines and a five minute maximum waiting time. But we don’t live in a perfect world, do we? Put your game face on and pack a bag.
  12. The first time you channel your mother won’t be your last.
  13. I can’t lie to you. There is no general consensus as to the length of a “stage.” It can last anywhere from ten minutes to ten years. Yes, it sucks. But at least you know.
  14. Barbie is the Devil Incarnate and Polly Pockets are her spawn.
  15. Taking a daily shower and separating dirty socks and underwear from dirty jeans before they hit the laundry basket is not considered child abuse. Neither is requiring them to actually hit the laundry basket.
  16. “I will” when uttered by a child actually means “I won’t until you ask me 83 more times.”
  17. Battling lice can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I am so not kidding.
  18. Don’t sign your daughter up for girl scouts unless you are willing to sleep in some pretty icky places and take my word for it … no amount of Thin Mints is going to make you feel better about spending the night on the floor of an aquarium directly underneath the kid-friendly a/k/a no-walls-separating-you-from-them crab exhibit. Do I have to draw you a picture?
  19. The words “we’ll see” are almighty powerful and can mean yes,” “no,” “maybe,” “not a shot in hell” and/or “over my dead body,” depending on the circumstances. Use them sparingly and they’ll serve you well.
  20. If you think you won’t ever bribe, yell, or swear at your kids, or use the phrase “because I said so” … good luck with that. You’re on your own.
May 9, 2008

He ain’t heavy …or short or overweight or prematurely gray … he’s my brother

I have a twin brother.

Not that you would know that just by looking at us. We are as different as night and day and you’d never guess we came from the same gene pool. I’m 5’2″, slightly chubby and fighting a losing battle against hair that insists on turning white no matter how many times it’s colored. He’s 6′ with not one inch of body fat on him and what few grays he has are actually silver and look distinguished, damn it all to hell.

However, at one time we did have the same nose. The wonderfully odd, bulbous, strangely disproportionate, utterly huge Psyhos nose, courtesy of our father. My nose entered a room three seconds before the rest of me did and qualified for its own zip code. But it wasn’t anything that a little plastic surgery couldn’t fix and so the one physical attribute my brother and I shared was destined to be nothing more than hazardous medical waste. Thank you God.

Story has it that we were born one minute apart. My brother took it upon his eager little self to budge me and become first born, complete with a healthy set of lungs and good color. I followed immediately afterwards with caution, trepidation and worry, whereupon the doctor took one look at me, pronounced me “tense” and whisked all 4 pounds, 12 ounces of me off to the neonatal unit for a week and thereby set the course of my life.

From the beginning, my brother was outgoing and ready for adventure. I, on the other hand, was painfully shy and constantly worried about something, anything, even if there was nothing to worry about at which point I’d find something to worry about, even if it killed me.

My mother insisted from the get go that we develop our own friendships and not depend on each other for socialization as multiples tend to do. Unless her idea of socialization included beating the snot out of each other, she had nothing to worry about. In fact, any concerns my mother had of our dependence upon each other vanished over the course of our elementary school education as it became readily apparent that not only did we not need each other, we didn’t much like each other.

And so it lasted through high school. My brother acquired a vast array of friends, maintained average grades, mowed the lawn and became one hell of an athlete. I bit my nails, worried about the economy and airplane disasters, earned excellent grades and had a small, very tight circle of close friends. And except for a couple of intermittent screaming matches and an occasional punch in the gut, we pretty much ignored each other.

I can’t remember any specific event that changed all of that, but then again, I can’t remember the names of my children so take that for what it’s worth. Maybe we just grew wiser as we grew older and figured that if Armageddon were to actually happen, as I constantly feared, it might be kind of nice to know where the other one was in case we wanted to hang out until it was over.

We’re pretty close now, even though we live on opposite coasts. We’re still as different as night and day. He’s living the single life in Las Vegas, dating women with legs up to here and hair down to there, chilling out in an ultra modern, sophisticated condo and bartending at one of the most popular clubs in town. I’m living the suburban stay-at-home mom life, juggling playdates and band concerts, battling pool algae and a possessed washing machine. And while he’s rubbing elbows with the likes of George Clooney and Brad Pitt, I’m challenging the basic principles of science by being in two places at the same time with two sets of hands and eyes in the back of my head like all the rest of the awesome moms out there.

Hey Tino … if you read this … call me. I miss you.

I married my tall, dark, handsome rebound guy

It was May, 1997. I was about six months into a separation from my husband of six years, the man who had promised to love and cherish me until death do us part or, apparently as he understood it, until he got a better offer. I must have missed that in our vows.

So I had spent the last six months gathering my wits about me, trying to scratch my way to a surface where I could breathe normally again. My co-worker MaryAnn decided that what I really needed was an adventure and what better way to get the blood pumping again than to go white water rafting down the Black River Gorge? I couldn’t think of anything better to do that Saturday so I said yes.

I met Nate (a/k/a MaryAnn’s nephew a/k/a tall, dark, handsome, soon-to-be rebound guy a/k/a my destiny) in the parking lot of the mall where we all gathered to figure out car pooling. Well, actually “met” is a bit of an overstatement. So is “said HI to.” I wasn’t paying attention to anything other than my own thoughts running amuck. How did I get myself into this situation? White water rafting was as ludicrous as climbing Mount Everest. The only sport I had ever played was golf and there was nothing extreme about it. It was no big secret that I was athletically challenged so what the hell was I doing with these people?

After arriving at the gorge, all of us ran in different directions … some to pay, some to change outfits, some to just hang out until the rest of us were ready. When we finally all came together it became immediately apparent that one of us thought pretty highly of himself. Specifically, my destiny was wearing his very own three quarter length wet suit. He looked ridiculous amongst the rest of us normal people who didn’t own our own wet suits and were therefore outfitted in the glamorous, fluorescent orange, musty smelling, one-size-fits-all full body wet suits supplied by the rafting company.

Did you know that it’s possible for a wet suit to fit so snug across your chest that it sucks the soul right out of your body while at the same time leaving enough wiggle room in your nether regions to hide a bowling ball?

I paid no attention to my destiny all decked out in shiny black and blue down to his knees. I hitched up my sagging wet suit, trying in vain to get the crotch somewhere in the vicinity above my knees and waddled my blazing neon orange droopy ass over to my co-workers who were waiting by the rafts and proceeded to listen to our guide’s survival instructions. And really, the only instruction that seemed to resonate with me was DO NOT FALL OUT OF THE RAFT. That one seemed pretty important.

We hopped into our rafts and as it turned out I wound up in a different raft than my destiny. I was in the raft with my boss and my boss’s husband, a very athletic, strapping specimen of a man who gave me his solemn vow that he would personally ensure my safety at all times. I expressed my concern to him that I NOT FALL OUT OF THE RAFT BECAUSE I COULD DIE AND I DID NOT WANT TO DIE IN THIS SUIT. He patted me on the shoulder, told me to not worry and to stick by him.

About 1/2 hour into the trip down the gorge, things were going pretty well and I started to relax a little, thinking that I might actually live to see what we were having for dinner afterwards when we hit a strong set of rapids. Our guide hollered instructions at us left and right and we feverishly tried to keep our raft afloat. I turned to my boss’s husband for assurance only to catch sight of his ass AS HE WENT FLYING OVER BACKWARDS OUT OF THE RAFT. Hello? Are you kidding me? You can just go find yourself someone else to protect, Mr. Manly Man.

So, what does all of this have to do with a tall, dark, handsome guy in a ridiculous wet suit? Not much, but we had met. At a pivotal time in both of our lives. We knew the other existed. And that was all MaryAnn needed as she became the social director of my pathetic excuse of a life. She organized activities for her family and friends and one volleyball night later, my destiny emailed me at work. A very short email in which he briefly commented on the volleyball, asked about an upcoming soccer game and wished me a nice day. Having been out of the dating game for awhile, MaryAnn and my boss sought to ease my way back in by helping me draft an appropriate response – polite but not too forward, leaving the door open but not yanking him inside: yes, volleyball was fun; yes, we would all be at the soccer game and hey, you have a nice day too.

Eventually, we got better at composing interesting emails.

And then at a soccer game, I committed a major faux pas by making the first move and asking him out on an actual date – drinks after the game. From the expressions on MaryAnn’s and my boss’s faces, you would have thought that I propositioned the pope. WHAT IN GOD’S NAME WAS I THINKING? DID I NOT REALIZE HOW THE GAME IS PLAYED?

We dated.

Everyone was happy that I had a transitional man.

But then we fell in love.

I was breaking rules all over the place and MaryAnn was just beside herself. Just what in the hell did I think I was doing? Did I not know anything? YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO FALL IN LOVE WITH YOUR TRANSITIONAL MAN. THEY ARE CALLED TRANSITIONAL FOR A REASON. GET A GRIP ON YOURSELF.

We married almost 2 years later.

We’ve been married just about 9 years now.

The tall, dark, handsome, soon-to-be rebound guy wearing the shiny blue and black three quarter length wet suit was my soul mate in disguise.

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