Monday December 06th 2010, 7:27 PM
Filed under: assholes,fashion,holiday,lessons,other shit

Happy Holidays?

This weekend I did some shopping at the King of Prussia mall with Son1 and Shenanigans. I was there once upon a time… when it opened “the Court” section in 1981. Back then, I was the mom of one-year-old Son1 and I was relatively broke. I went with a girlfriend who tried to talk me into spending $25 for a pair of white cotton ‘granny panties’ that said “Bloomingdale’s”.  In all the interim years, the only thing that never changed about that mall was that it consisted of the higher end stores.

Flash forward to this Saturday.  It was obvious from the parking lot that things were very different from the mall less than a couple of miles away from my house. The parking lot was full of Volvos, BMW’s and Hummers. Groups of shoppers were leaving the mall laden with bags from Michael Kors, Coach, and Tiffany’s.  The girls headed into the malls wore their high heels and pricey boots. The guys were well-coifed and looked like ads from GQ Magazine. I felt out of place, even though I actually “dressed up” to go shopping!

The three of us had a great time. We window shopped, pointing out things for our “wish” lists. We imagined the ways that our homes would look if we could afford the things that were sold in some of the artsy stores. We stopped for lunch and ate Cajun food, something we talk about doing but never have the opportunity to do.  While we ate, we watched the people who walked by us. Not only were the stores, and prices ‘higher’, but the shoppers were…..I don’t know the exact word…..

Girls walked by looking down their noses at each other, they pulled merchandise from racks and shelves, and then threw them back with disdain, as though cashmere sweaters weren’t good enough to touch their skin. The guys were in two groups, the ones who absolutely loved shopping and knew where to go and what to buy and the ones who were only there to kill time. Little kids whined until they got whatever they wanted and the parents……

The parents all seemed like they were somewhere else mentally. It was like a ‘chore’ to be there. They were on their phones arguing about whether to get the kids what they wanted or to get them what they needed to go on vacation. Some argued with their kids “No, they only have that bag in brown……But it’s not in black…..What do you want to do?….Fine, then ask your father to take you….I don’t care really….Don’t come home, it’s his night….”

The lights were bright and twinkling. The music wasn’t too loud but it was quite festive. Babies sat on Santa’s lap.

If I could ignore everyone except Son1 and Shenanigans, I could be in the holiday spirit. If I let the others in, I could be depressed by the lack of …. would it be ‘lack of humanity’?  a ‘lack of joy’?  a ‘lack of family warmth’?  People pushed by us without a single “Excuse me” It was normal to hear “Tsk!” , followed by the loud-whisper “OMG, did you see that? How rude!”

I ignored the outside world. I enjoyed my day with Son1 and Shenanigan. I am going shopping tomorrow with an old friend. We’ll be going to a different mall. I am curious to see if this is normal behavior this year, or if this weekend’s adventure was an anomaly.  I hope that people aren’t so indifferent this season…….

Friday September 24th 2010, 1:32 PM
Filed under: happy,kids,lessons

Learning New Things


Well, it has been one month since Babygirl left for college. She has settled in nicely and gets along great with her roommate.  She has gotten into the rhythm of classes, study, gym and social life.

We are both learning new things.

Without her here,  I learned how to use the elastic exercise bands that were left in her room. I have learned how to put video into my blog using HTML. I updated my laptop and when a certain program disagreed with it, I managed to delete it and restart my computer all by myself!

She is learning that even people that you have known for years, have a darker, inconsiderate side when they are away from home. She has learned how to spend the night alone when her roommate isn’t there. And she has learned that if you leave your laundry detergent unsupervised-even for five minutes- it will disappear.

I’ve gotten used to chatting with her on Facebook. We both have skype but her internet connection in the dorm is horribly slow and sporadic. For a university, I find that surprising. She dropped her phone into soda, and the week it took us to replace it was horrendous. We couldn’t text ‘goodnight’ or ‘Got time to chat?’  I missed her face and her voice.

But there is one more thing that I have learned….

My daughter is a beast.

Babygirl has joined the “ultimate frisbee” team. For those who don’t know what that is, she has described it as a cross between soccer and flag football. There is lots of action and chances for injury.(She has already given a teammate a black eye!) She attended a tournament that was only hour away from home and since some friends went to watch her, she came home with them overnight and returned for phase two the next morning. She walked in the door, face beet red from sunburn, and limbs brown from the sunshine. She  smelled like outdoors. I watched her walk into the kitchen and noticed how muscular she has become. When she talks about it, there is a light that shines in her eyes. I always knew that she liked sports, but this was…new. Wanna see what it looks like?


Yes, my sweet little girl is doing that. Now that my friends have seen it, we are planning a road trip or two to see her play.

I’ll be watching through my fingers!

Saturday August 21st 2010, 1:05 PM
Filed under: kids,lessons,love,travel

Five More Days

We are down to the final five days.

Babygirl has been packing her things here and there getting ready for her big move. The foot of my stairs has been piled high with bins of linens, school supplies and clothes. Little by by little the mountain has grown. Last night we went on a big trip to Tarjay to get lots of storage, laundry, and stationery. I was relieved to see that Target is ‘college friendly’. All the things we needed were there and the prices weren’t as bad as I had feared. We now have one last shopping trip to make– CVS. This one makes my charge card shudder. You may be aware that the things sold in CVS are the ones that cost the most….pain relievers, cold remedies, girly supplies, and vitamins. Pepto, allergy tablets, and eye drops. Facial cleaners, and deodorant. I am expecting to pay more in that store than we spent in Target and Kohls combined. Oh, we have picked up some things like shampoo, lotion, and conditioners in other places as we’ve seen the sales, but there are still far too many others left to get. Luckily for us, our girl Shenanigans works there and will be hooking us up with the employee discount. It is a huge help.

This morning we pulled out everything and separated it on the living room floor. Everything was packed according to ‘kitchen’, ‘shower’, ‘bed’, and ‘desk’. Seeing it all spread out, it looked like overkill. Surely there was no way that she needed all of these things! We packed and repacked. We lined up bins to be sure that the bulk of her things would fit under the bed. (Yes, it will-surprise!)  By the time we had finished, the chaos had been tamed and pared down to a controllable pile.

And now there are five days. Five days! She will be working on a couple of  those days. She will spend time with her buddy Nick, who won’t be going to Shippensburg this semester (but hopefully he will join them in January) She will spend time with her boy, who will be with her again a week later. And then? Whatever remaining time she has, I’m hoping she finds a minute or two for Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop, her brothers, and the girlfriends who will be staying behind.

I don’t expect the “mom/daughter’  time. I will be happy talking to her about being careful, how to do laundry, and the best way to organize her stuff. I’ll remind her about the dangers of drinking, the importance of study, and being considerate of her roommate and others she will come in contact with. This will be our time together.

But I am looking forward to the emails, webcam visits, and facebook updates that will tell me that she is healthy, happy and doing all things collegiate. I await the messages that tell me she is doing well in classes and keeping up her grades.

But most of all, I want the messages that come between the lines. The ones that say “I heard what you were saying, Mom. And you prepared me for independence.”

Wednesday August 11th 2010, 9:53 PM
Filed under: Anger,ineptitude,lessons,other shit


There is an Atlantic Book Outlet on the Boardwalk that we visit every summer. Now when we leave home, I tend to bring a paperback, you know, something not too heavy to carry and read on the beach.  I go to the outlet and get the heavier books to read during my winter hibernation.  For me, it’s like a kid going into a toy store. I have to check out a lot of books before I settle on two or three. Last year’s choices were Aimee Liu’s “Flash House” and  Loren D Estleman’s “The Undertaker’s Wife”.  They have been sitting under my coffee table for a year.

Before leaving for the shore last year, I started reading Stephen King’s “Duma Key”. So, when I got home, I put away the new books so that I could finish reading that.  Instead of reading, however,  I got involved in making a needlepoint wedding gift for a friend. This took longer than I had hoped, and before I knew it, Christmas was here.  One of my gifts was “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. Well, I just had to read that one right away!

Other books were started and never finished. This is a new occurrence for me. I never leave a book halfway read. And so, this spring, I began gathering up the books and read them.  (Don’t bother with “The Weekend” by Peter Cameron -or maybe do-it gets great reviews but I felt it was a waste of time) I finally finished “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold. I can’t imagine how I could have put it down to begin with!

At long last, today I was ready to start a new book. I decided on “Flash House”. I actually got excited about it. I poured a cup of coffee and turned off the television. I opened the cover to read the jacket , as is my habit. It serves to whet my appetite. Now. I am ready. I flip through to the first page of the first chapter only to find…


Oh, yes. It’s the old bait and switch. Do I still have the receipt?  NO.  Is it worth a two hour drive to get to the store and complain about it?  NO. And besides, it’s over a YEAR ago!.

So now I have this book that isn’t my usual cup of tea. I have to admit that the description sounds intriguing. I plan on reading this one and I hope it isn’t another book that I will read and put aside without finishing it.

I’m all for expanding my horizons and trying new things. Books just never figure into my “new things to try”.  I guess this is one of those lemons life has given me.

Now I gotta make some lemonade…..

Tuesday August 10th 2010, 9:25 AM
Filed under: business,desire,family,Friends,Grief,lessons,love

Bad Is Not So Bad

My son went away for the weekend and turned off the air conditioner in his room. It is a small room and his queen size bed sits below the window. Well, while the AC was off this weekend, it leaked…into his room. Not only did water run down the wall wetting  the carpet, but it soaked a quarter of the mattress through to part of the box spring. Now what? Is there any way to dry it out? Do we write it off and try to come up with the money for a new bed? It’s the last thing we can afford right now. I felt so bad for Son2. He had worked all day in the heat, humidity and sun. He had come home long enough to shower, throw food into his face and run to his second job, where Monday is one of the busiest nights of the week. All he wanted to do was crash into his bed. Instead, at one in the morning, I was helping him soak up some of the water and later crying about his shitty luck.

My daughter wants to go to Colorado with her Man and his family in January. They enjoy snowboarding and that is exactly what they will be doing. His parents will be paying for everything but the air fare. When you look at the price of tickets to lots of places, or even the cost of a ski pass to our local Pocono Mountain resorts, the air fare will be  cheaper. We can’t really afford that either.  I added tears for her to the tears for my son.

I looked into the mirror this weekend and saw my hair. I stop dying my hair every summer because of vacations. If I dye it, the dye fades quickly in the sun or washes out in the chlorine of the pools. It also gives my crappy hair a break from the chemicals. This year, the white hair is more prominent than usual. Hubs likes it. Now I face the prospect of letting the gray grow in. I am cutting back on things and hair dye is not a ‘necessary’ expense. I feel old when I look at myself. Hubs thinks it’s pretty. Oh the indecision….

Our business is slow. But at least we have something. Babygirl may be headed to college, but she can get a job to help out with school expenses or to get herself a plane ticket. She has earned the money to buy her own back-to-school clothes and many of her supplies. Son2 has plenty of his own expenses, and that is the reason for two jobs. But at least he has money to go to the Union soccer games once, sometimes twice, a week (we paid for half of his season tickets for last Christmas-when we had a streak of good income) He can buy a new bed for himself, if he has to. Dying my hair?  Well, shit. I won’t be the end of the world if I look my age. Yanno?

My friend’s husband is losing his job-along with 700 other families- when their plant closes.

My friend has little kids, kids who can’t get jobs to help pay for their school supplies. Her kids are too young to fully understand the way their parents will have to cut corners. Her husband will be dealing with the stress and depression that comes with looking for a job and providing for his family. She will deal with standing by her man, saving every penny she can and the heartbreaking task of telling her children “no” far too often than “yes”

I feel so guilty moaning about a plane ticket, a bed, and worst of all HAIR DYE!  These things pale in the face of the troubles in front of others.

I light a candle and pray everyday for my friends. I pray for our own financial stability and health. I pray that some of you get back good test results. I hope that you don’t lose your insurance, your car, your home. I pray that you get that job you interviewed for. I pray that this love is the one that lasts.

And I’ve added another friend to my litany of prayers. My dear friend, I hope that something good comes your way soon.

Tuesday July 06th 2010, 5:32 PM
Filed under: celebration,Friends,happy,laughs,lessons,questions

Rainbow Weekend

Like many of you, I went to a party this weekend. Like many of those parties, this party involved a pool, a barbecue, drinks, food and friends. This party was different in only one way…

I knew when the invitation was given, that it would be attended by many women……many gay women. That’s not a big deal to me. I don’t tend to think of people like that. It’s none of my business and besides, people are people, y’know? I mention it only because of where this post is going.

I’ve been to other parties where I only know one or two people. There is usually that initial awkwardness, you know, the one in which you get a feel for the humor (or lack of). The one in which you get to know the boundaries, so that you don’t cross it….

I didn’t need to do that this time.

As soon as I got there, I felt as if I were a long lost friend. My friend Skittles and I were the only two straight women there. We tend to get carried away with our laughter and joking and I was a tad afraid of making an inappropriate joke. I was secretly counting on Skittles to keep me in check. But immediately upon our arrival, the laughs began and they never stopped.

The sun beat down on us and the pool was too inviting. A few girls went in and I joined them. If it were another party, I would have hemmed and hawed. I would have been self-conscious about my ‘bathing suit body’. Not here. If it were another party, I would have been on the look-out for the ‘judges’…..those women who, whether on purpose or not, judge the amount of skin that shows, making judgements that “she’s a whore” or “she’s a prude”. Those women who watch every person you talk to and make judgements that perhaps “she’s flirting with my man” when in reality you are discussing sports. Those women who mentally tally up how long you have known the hostess to assure themselves that they are “better friends” with her.

Like I said…if it were another party.

All of these things were a non-issue. They didn’t worry about their bodies and by extension, neither did I. We discussed all kinds of things. I spoke to the significant others and didn’t feel like I had to time the conversation out of fear of what their mate would think. We put sunscreen on each other. You know how touching a man always seem to skew into a ‘sexy touch’?  Not here. It was simply women making sure no one got sunburned.

I relaxed….truly relaxed. This was so incredibly different. Even with family, I am tense. I worry that I will say or do something to earn Mom’s disapproval, or I will hurt my sister’s feelings.  I feel the judgement – even after thirty years of marriage – of my sisters-in-law. Even with some friends, I feel like my house, hostess skills or cooking doesn’t measure up.

These women accepted me for who I am, and I felt the love.

And then I felt the heartache of knowing that they could be themselves…..but only among others of the same mindset. They discussed how hard it is to find a club that is ‘gay-friendly’. How hard it must be to have to plan a get-together based on where they will feel ‘welcomed’!   It made me sad to know that so many people will never know these wonderful, smart, funny women because they can’t set aside the issue of sexual orientation. It made me sad to know that they will go to other parties and be the ones who are judged.

Sunday May 30th 2010, 10:09 PM
Filed under: family,Friends,holiday,lessons,love

Memorial Day Memory
Memorial Day brings with it memories of barbecues past. When we got married, we began spending Memorial Day with my girlfriend Sue and her family in Brigantine, NJ.  Every year, we would drive to their house and we’d stay until late Monday night. Eventually they moved away from the beach but we continued being with them until about seven years ago when her parents decided that they were too old to continue playing host to all of their friends and family.

When Son1 was 7 and Son2 was 2, I almost lost both of my sons. We had gone to the beach and it was a glorious day.  I was sunning on the beach, catching up with Sue and just enjoying the day. Hubs was walking the waterline with Son2 , not far from where Son1 was splashing in the shallow waves. At some point Son1 ventured out  just a bit further and  got caught by the undertow. One second he was there and the next he was gone. Hubs looked to where he had been and he barely caught sight of our son struggling over 100 feet away from where he had disappeared. Hubs let go of  Son2’s hand and swam out to sea.  Son2  tried to follow Daddy and he too got tugged out.

I have no idea how  I saw what was happening. Perhaps God intervened. Whatever it was, I ran out  into the surf.  Within five feet, the ocean floor gave way and I was suddenly underwater. I barely found the bottom with my feet. It wasn’t sand that I found however. I was barely balanced on the jagged rocks of an underwater part of the jetty.

I looked ahead of me and my heart dropped. My baby was floating face down. I reached out and grabbed him and squeezed him to me.

And I froze. The waves were rough and all I could do was to hold onto Son2 and barely keep my head above water. In my panic, I looked further out to sea and saw my husband holding my older son and treading water.

As if from far away, I heard someone calling to me, “Give me the baby!”  The last thing I wanted to do was to relinquish my grip on my son. I turned my head and a man looked deeply into my eyes. “It’s okay, honey. Just give me the baby and we’ll get you out of the water.”  Over his shoulder, I could see that onlookers had managed to make a human chain. They had to forceably pull me and my son to shore.  Others raced along the  jetty and grabbed my husband and my other son.

We were lucky that, being a toddler, Son2 had breathed in deep in order to cry. That breath had filled his lungs and kept him buoyant. Once he was out of the water, he was just very angry and cried. Son2 was blue and that was due to the coldness of the deeper water.  Hubs and I?  We were white as ghosts.

I shudder to think of what happened that day. Memorial Day isn’t considered “season” in Brigantine and there were no lifeguards yet. Thank God for the roughly two dozen people who were there to help us. I could have lost my entire family that day.

On Memorial Day, I always think of the many soldiers who gave their lives for freedoms that I enjoy. I pray for each and every one.

But I also remember the ‘everyday heroes’ who were there….to spend a day at the beach ….. and instead were there to protect my sons, my husband and myself. I never got a single name, but I never forget a single one of them.

Tuesday May 25th 2010, 6:31 PM
Filed under: celebration,fantasy,happy,lessons,other shit

Not Sweating It

My life is like mad mood swings lately. I have so much to do, but no incentive to move my ass.

I need to get a few things out of the basement and off to the Salvation Army. I have boxes for said things and the stuff is near the boxes……like beside the boxes. Also beside the boxes are piles of winter clothes and a few summer things that need to make their way upstairs. I just need to put them in the box and take them away.

It’s so cool in the basement too, but for some reason, I feel as if this job is “The Most Awful Job in the World”. And so I put it off.

I have stripped the wallpaper off the bathroom walls. I have spackle for the imperfections and a Mighty Mouse sander to finish it off. I also have the primer. It’s not as if there are a jillion spots to spackle and sand, there are really only a few. I just know that once I start, I will work like a horse in order to finish what I’ve started. Also, working like that, I will more than likely make my arms ache. And so I put it off.

Graduation is getting closer and closer. I have the menu in my head. I need to write it down. I could be buying soda, paper goods, and table cloths. I could extend my dining room table and place a few flowering plants outside. I need to start ordering food and cake and chairs. I haven’t done one of those things yet. If I do, that means that Babygirl will really be graduating.  I get stressed and need to relax. And then I put them off.

But don’t start thinking that I am rolled into a blanket and lying in the dark on the couch. I’m not sitting on the computer 24/7.  I’m not blogging or keeping up with laundry or watching movies. This is what I am doing:

I’m not sweating the small stuff.

Wednesday May 19th 2010, 6:55 PM
Filed under: celebration,Friends,happy,laughs,lessons,love

Dance, Dance #2

Now I am moving on to the High School dances. Not exactly the mixers and not quite the proms. I am talking about two that were very special for special reasons.

One year, shortly after my uncle died, my aunt Margie wanted to have Thanksgiving dinner at her house. It was her way of getting through the holidays that first year. She managed to squeeze roughly two dozen people into her apartment, which was above the bar that Uncle Al owned. So there we were, four teenaged cousins who were bored to tears. That night, at my cousin’s school, was the “Turkey Trot”. None of us were very excited about going, but we were dropped off in front of the high school. Things shaped up once the music started. My cousin Kathleen and I were free to be brand new people. We were from the suburbs in a city dance. We were suddenly popular, carefree and outgoing. We could do whatever we wanted because we would never see these people again.

That night we were silly, giggly girls. We danced all night. My cousins Al and Margaret were popular by association, having brought the ‘new girls’. It was one of the most fun times we shared as kids.

The second was my “Ring Dance”. In our school, it was a symbol of hard work and achievement. We didn’t get our rings until Senior Year. I had planned on going with a guy named Howard. He played sports, and because of that, it wasn’t unusual for us to go for days without seeing or speaking. I called him the day before the dance to iron out the last details-when he’d pick me up, pictures, dinner before or after, etc. When he answered, he was with his girlfriend. He had forgotten our plans.

I was devastated. What would I do now? How could I tell my parents? How could I face my friends? I did the only thing I could think of….. I called my friend Frank.

Frank had graduated a year ahead of me. We missed seeing him on campus all the time and he would show up whenever he didn’t have to work. His prized possession was a red camaro. He was always washing and waxing it. When he answered his phone, I burst into tears. He let me cry without saying a word. Finally, all I could do was ask three questions.

“Are you busy tomorrow night?” “No”

“Is your car clean?” “Yes”

“Can you wear a suit and pick me up tomorrow at 7?” “Yeah, where we going?”

I began to cry again and he quickly said “I don’t need to know. I’ll be there.”

I hung up the phone feeling more relieved than anything. I still couldn’t bring myself to tell my girlfriends. I only told my mom that things had changed but I never told her what.

Frank showed up at my door on time. He had a corsage, because he didn’t know whether or not it was a ‘flower’ occasion or not (and better safe than sorry). We got into his car and he said “Where to?”

When I finally told him everything, he laughed. He couldn’t wait to see everyone’s face when we showed up. He hadn’t said a word to anyone. Not even our friend “Lostmahead”–who knew everything–knew about this.

We had a great night. Frank and I had a bond that was hard to shake. We shared other heartache during our young friendship. But we also shared other things as well.

You see, Frank and I are still friends and his daughters call me “Mom Chris”.  That dance was more important to me than my own Senior Prom…and I went to that with Hubby!

Tuesday May 11th 2010, 10:58 PM
Filed under: lessons,miscellaneous


 Today’s subject is:  Saved

 And don’t forget to check out Finn and Ren to see their interpretations.