Inclement Weather, 49 hours later

giphy-downsized (15)


Blogged while eating Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Butter Cup ice cream.

Orange Polo Shirt was located less than 10 minutes after I published that last post. I found it buried under a pile of clothing on top of the suitcase he’d taken to Nashville. Okay, I lifted exactly 4 articles of clothing – most likely the clothes he last wore – and there. it. was. I took a picture to send to him, asking if I got a reward. My reward is spending the rest of my life with him, which is a dream come true, even if I will be slowly losing my mind.

This is technically inbound day four for me, as V has been sick since Sunday and was home from school before this weather system clobbered us. I have to admit I love this weather – when everyone can be home and we don’t need to go to work. At least until last night when the brain weasels wanted me to think about what I would do if we had a real medical emergency. A small wave of anxiety washed over me, before I shut it down. It’s kind of like that same anxiety I feel in certain Italian-American chain restaurants – yes, we have – where they walk you back and back and back through this labyrinth of rooms until you feel like you’ve entered some alternate universe, Mediterranean garden-cave and there are no visible exits other than the front door –which, by the way, is so far away you’d never make it out – what if there’s a fire?

Anyway, we’ve kept busy watching Netflix, playing Fortnight (the new video game crack for teenaged boys), shopping Marketplace, and spending absolutely no time on the treadmill. Yesterday I made breakfast quinoa, bacon, and chocolate chip pancakes. I made homemade cole slaw. For dinner I made this delicious Orzo with Parmesan and Basil to go with broiled New York Strip steaks (grill was not only half-buried in snow, but out of propane).

During dinner, somehow the conversation turned dark. It all started when Todd said he smelled poop. This has been an ongoing theme in our house, between the cat and his infraction in the hall bathroom and the continuously clogged toilet. I suggested that the dog farted. There was a brief moment where we considered that she had a wayward piece of shit stuck to her ass. That’s when Opac said he doesn’t think he could ever have a dog, because he can’t stand the smell of poop and could never clean it up. Todd countered that no one likes the smell of poop; that’s why when something bad happens, we say, “shit!”

Segue into V informing O that she would take care of wiping my butt when I’m old, and he’d take care of wiping dad’s butt. Aint happening, he said. He might’ve used other words. She added dad’s wife to O’s list. No, he said. And, without missing a beat, looked squarely across the table at Todd and said, And I know what you’re thinking and you can forget it.

Anyway, the mystery of Oliver’s accident in the bathroom was solved when I went downstairs to start a load of laundry and found that somebody had closed the door to the bathroom where his box is. But nobody knows who. This is what I mean by slowly dissolving into madness. I’m headed there.

And then of course Oliver decided to add insult to injury and returned to the scene of the crime yesterday to urinate on the remaining rug. I don’t know WTF is wrong with him. He’s on a one-way highway to extinction, if he keeps this up.

And, because I love this kind of shit, you’re going to love what I got to do today. First off, V and I ventured out to run overdue errands and pick up some groceries – including toilet paper because we were down to our last two rolls in the house. Seriously people, forget milk and bread – in a real snowstorm, there is nothing, nothing, more important than TP. Being down to your last garbage bag has nothing on being down to your last roll of toilet paper in a family of four. Well, except maybe wine.

Anyhoo, we get back. We have lunch. We watch sheets of snow fall off the solar panels in front of the house. V goes to the bathroom. Twenty minutes later she comes out and tells me the toilet is clogged. No kidding, I said, what a surprise. What she said next requires a full shot of tequila to recover from. She said, what happened to all the toilet paper under my sink? I said, it’s gone, that’s why we bought more. She said, oh. Well, I thought we were out of it, so I used paper towels. PAPER TOWELS.

After I pointed to the package she was with me when I purchased not more than two hours ago, I spent the next 15 minutes fishing out seven paper towels with the toilet brush, and trying not to get any of the water on the newly washed floor (recall the urine rug of yesterday). She “didn’t know” you can’t flush anything but toilet paper in a septic system.

I won’t be redundant and mention the dog’s infractions, but I will say that we are now taking her outside from the rec room downstairs. Tuesday night I called her to follow me, and she went as far as the top step and turned and ran back to the living room where Todd was. I walked back and said firmly, Sabra, come. She moved closer to Todd. Frustrated, I walked into the living room, where Todd was sitting on the couch with one leg up on the ottoman and the other on the floor beside it. The closer I came to her, the closer she got to him, until she couldn’t get any closer. And then all of sudden she literally dove, head first, between the ottoman and the couch. It was by far the funniest thing she’s done yet.

Tomorrow life returns to normal, or as normal as it can be with us. But Spring is coming, and with it new adventures.


Due to Today’s Forecast For Inclement Weather…

giphy-downsized (14)

The only Snow I want to see.

It’s 10:27 a.m. and they’re calling for another Nor-easter. This one promises anywhere from three to 900 inches of snow, and should end sometime around next week. Or Thursday. I’m taking pics of my deck and maybe I’ll try to do a time lapse thing for shits and giggles.

My March 20th began with all-night blood sugar testing, cat shit, a middle-aged dog who needs discipline, and one lost orange polo shirt.

Veruca is having her annual round of The Sick and has been out of commission for 3 days. Nothing eventful to report here, though even if there was, I’d be forbidden to write about it.

Instead, I will tell you how Opac drug me out of bed at 6 a.m. to handle the pile of poo Oliver left on the bathroom rug in his bathroom. Because he’s an asshole. Not Opac – the cat. I have no idea what caused this serious infraction, but he then had the audacity to follow me around meowing for breakfast. Not Opac, the cat. And of course he got it – because, CAT.

So Opac didn’t actually wake me up. Todd did. He was looking for an orange polo shirt he’d brought home several days ago, and now he can’t find it. (Story of my life is such an overused statement, isn’t it?) I told him the last time I saw it, it was on the liquor cart. Well, is that what it’s called? It’s a table in our dining room that is part of the set, with two shelves below divided by one cabinet door. We keep our liquor in/on it. It has wheels. Cart? Okay.

Anyway. Orange polo shirt. It’s not there. He thinks he brought it into the bedroom and set it down on my dresser. Which, in my barely awake mind, sounds a bit accusatory, since it’s no longer there either. I told him it was never on my dresser, because I never saw it there. I lost sight of it on the liquor cart, nestled against the single malt collection… which, by the way, would be exactly where I would want to be, if I were an orange shirt.

He insisted that it was in the living room and that he’d carried it to the bedroom and set it down on my dresser, but he moved it and now he can’t find it anywhere. I said that I’d only seen it in the dining room, and he got mad because he meant the dining room, not the living room. It’s kinda the same as when he says Thursday and really means Tuesday, except that I’m a bit slow cause I’m not a mind reader and so I don’t know what he really means. Meanwhile, Orange Polo Shirt is MIA. How do you lose an ORANGE shirt in a sea of black? (He wears a lot of black.)

So, due to the forecast for inclement weather today, which – by the way – has already begun to be inclement weather… schools are dismissing early. Opac actually texted me around 8, asking me to come pick him up at 11 because the initial report was they were going to try to keep them in school all day and he thought that was bullshit. And I’m like, pick you up in WHAT? The GT? Because Todd had to go to work today and I told him to take my car. I can’t drive the beater because I can’t move the seat up far enough.

There’s another story. Todd is like, you can move the seat up so you can better reach the pedals. And I’m like, no I can’t. Because I’ve tried. He said he’d show me how. And I’m like, I know how. But that damn box you built to hold your iPad (to play Sirius XM) is in the way. You can move that. I KNOW that. But I don’t want to. Okay. It’s a choice. Famous last words: It’s a choice.

Just like it’s a choice to let the dog out first thing in the morning, and hope she leaves the deck this time to relieve herself. Yeah. Since Moses was here last, she’s still breaking all the rules and peeing on the deck. Almost 11 years old and she’s decided to feign stupidity and go on the deck? So now we have to go out with her and make sure she goes down the steps to the yard. It’s madness around here, sometimes. Todd reminded me that Pi used to do this. But she was OLD. And SENILE. She also used to open bedside table drawers and steal my chocolate stash. And lived to do it again.

Sabra thinks I’m stupid. Just like Oliver thinks I’m stupid. And how sometimes the kids think I’m stupid. Everyone except Todd – who gets irritated when I actually am stupid. Ah well – balance.

So, today’s forecast looks like laundry (a certain rug), arts and crafts (because I’m Supermomwoman), cooking Asian soup with dumplings, shitakes, and edamame, and locating a certain shirt. I can’t wait to find that shirt. I can’t even tell you how much I can’t wait to find that shirt.




That Stench Is My Foul Mood

The Tara Chronicles

There are days like this.  They don’t happen very often, at least not anymore.  Everyone has them.  A mood so foul the day itself screams – for the love of God, woman shut the hellup!  It was all going so well, too. 

While everyone complained loudly about the impending snow storm last week, I did a remarkable 360 and was actually happy about it, because for once it happened at the best possible time for us.  It started late after we returned home from our routine Wednesday night trip to PA, and we had nowhere to go Thursday or Friday – no appointments, no obligations – and it was my weekend, so the kids were home with me anyway.  Perfect.  I worked Saturday night for a few hours, because the restaurant is short staffed, again.  Really, how’s about I just stop reporting that?  It should be the…

View original post 957 more words

While You Were Away

giphy-downsized (13)

Dear Mom:

It may not be as exciting as shaking scorpions out of your suitcase, or having howler monkeys next to your patio, or being laid over for 12 hours in a biker bar, but you missed some good times back here in the Northeast.

I know the news about threats of school violence worried you. The child who was making the threats on social media was a middle-school-aged girl who doesn’t even attend our schools. Nevertheless, there were many students who didn’t go to school the next day. I don’t know what happened with the 8th grader in V’s school who made threats, other than that the authorities were brought in and it was handled. Everything is pretty much back to normal. Still – it worries me that our children have to worry about this stuff. And that we, the parents, have to worry about this stuff.

We had some weather. We had some crazy winds. 60 mph wind gusts on Friday that brought an early dismissal, out of fear of fallen trees and power outages. At lunchtime I texted Todd to suggest he stay home. The three main arteries going south were all closed, thanks to the high winds on bridges and two overturned tractor trailers on Tydings bridge on 95. Thankfully, he stayed home and skyped his meeting.

BUT, he still thought he was going bowling an hour away. I texted him back that I wasn’t going. My nerves can’t take it. After that nailbiting hour and a half ride home in dense fog last month, I promised myself never again. He was climbing the walls by the time I got home from work, as you might expect, and he was insisting that the roads were clear and he would be fine. I told him he was nuts. He reluctantly agreed to stay home.

The power went out in my building 5 minutes before we closed, for about 10 seconds. I looked over at Kathleen sitting next to me, and I couldn’t see her. There was this audible sigh throughout the office that felt like the building breathing. I was in the middle of a triage call, and our entire system – with phones – went down. Thankfully the generator kicked on and lights started popping back on.

I remote-started my car before I left my building… the workers in the lobby all said good night and told me to be careful. I took a deep breath just inside the glass doors and braced myself for winds I haven’t experienced since I lived in New York. I kept my head down and walked quickly to the car, put my hand on the handle and … nothing. It didn’t unlock, and then I noticed that it wasn’t running. I cursed it, and then realized It Wasn’t My Car. My car was 3 spaces away, engine running. Fiddlesticks!

Back at home…  the animals. With Moses’ arrival comes Oliver’s seclusion; however, this time Mo took to our bedroom at night and so Oliver couldn’t even sleep there. Mo likes to move around a lot. He slept in the hall, in the living room, on our floor, and one night in Veruca’s room. He also, as you know, has a particular penchant for the top of the stairs – which has got to piss Oliver off.

After a few days of this nonsense Oliver must’ve decided, fuck it, and often wandered into the main living areas with enough distance between them to allow for escape. It takes exactly 3.4 seconds for Oliver to bolt from any room, and exactly a minute and a half for Moses to get into a standing position. I’d say the odds are stacked in Oliver’s favor.

Sabra returned to her buffoonery, skittering through open doorways like some invisible force slapped her backside, and refusing to go outside with Moses. I took to letting them out separately, for the sheer purpose of saving my sanity, and still she would go out the door and turn immediately back and stare through the glass waiting to come back in.

One time she actually went out and stood just around the corner where I couldn’t see her – well, all but her tail wagging – and waited a minute or two before running back to the door and wanting to come back in. And THEN she stood staring at me waiting for her cookie. She really thinks I’m stupid.

She has turned me into a criminal investigator – between checking her paws to see if they’re wet (which they would be if she’d left the deck) and trying to catch her pooping on the deck around the corner where no one can see her. There are currently 4 piles of petrified poop on that corner of the deck, and I know it’s all hers.

One night, though, she went out alone and came back all wound up like a rabid squirrel, bouncing around the living room and pushing at Mo to get up. She wanted him to go out there with her, and it’s dark and all I can think is – oh God, please don’t let them come back smelling like skunk. This is a legitimate worry, mom.

The animals are all crazy. Mo knows the cookie drill – so as soon as he comes in, he’s ready. Except that Sabra goes out next… and, depending on whether she actually leaves the deck, then she gets her cookie. Mo seems to think it’s handout time again, and so he comes over and expects another cookie. And then Oliver comes and stands by the cabinet waiting for his kitty treats.

I’m sorry that I had to close the door to all pets after a couple of nights listening to Moses licking his paws for the better part of two hours. You know how much I love that sound. He does it during the day, too, just a few feet away from where I’m sitting, you know, so I can enjoy it too. Have you noticed that yelling stop it! doesn’t really work with him?

For what it’s worth, however, he is by far the happiest animal in the house to see me when I get home. Even if I’ve only gone as far as the bus stop to drop the kids. That’s refreshing. We just have to do something about his body slamming “hugs” and leg-bruising head butts.

You may notice that I brushed him a little. I used the furminator that you included in his overnight bag, and let me tell you I think a vacuum cleaner would be far more effective. I brushed one side of him while he was lying down, and could’ve knitted a rug with the excess that the brush couldn’t contain. Obviously I thought better of completing this endeavor indoors, but the winds were still high and so outside wasn’t an option.

The kids are well. Opac is complaining about needing the driver’s ed class so he can get his license, but when I offer to let him drive home from workouts he says it’s leg day and his legs really hurt. I don’t know how he’s going to get his hours in, if there’s always a reason not to practice, but hey – I’m in no hurry.

V is already planning her birthday party, and asking when and where we’re going to the beach this summer. I told her to talk to you.

Hope your trip home is less eventful than the one out. You’ll be pleased to know that Mother Nature has conjured a winter event to commemorate your return from the tropics.







Of Bullies

giphy-downsized (12)

Warning: Far-stretching, rambling rant ahead, and real life bullies exposed.

Veruca got a cell phone in 5th grade, in order to attend a birthday party. If it weren’t for diabetes, she still wouldn’t have one. It was an enormous leap of faith and I made sure she knew it. Two years later she still doesn’t use any social media apps and the only people she talks to, or texts, are family members. Mostly.

In September, there was a new girl. She latched onto V and called her her best friend, dominating her time at school, poking her to get her attention when she was talking to other friends during lunch, and the most concerning part – calling and texting her all day and night (once calling at 2 a.m.). She would text her and ask her why she wasn’t answering her, please call me back, can you call me, call me NOW, where are you? what are you doing?

At first, V was annoyed and would come to me and complain. We suggested she establish boundaries and tell her friend to stop calling/texting so much. The girl ignored her wishes. We told V to block her, but she was afraid to because then this girl would be “mad at” her.

When it got to the point where the girl texted her, “I guess I should just kill myself, then,” I called the assistant principal and let him know we had a problem. But mostly because no child should say that to another and have it go unreported. She may have been saying it for attention, but what if she wasn’t? Not on my watch.

The whole thing culminated in meetings with the guidance counselor, moving lockers (their lockers were right next to each other), seat changes in the classrooms they shared, and V completely cutting her off. And then this girl was telling people it was because of V that she “got beat” by her parents.

This girl later physically “handled” another girl, which didn’t last long because – as the victim told me herself – the next time she came around “I gave her a look and she walked away.” That look, let me tell you, even coming from a 4’10 little pistol, made me uncomfortable.

Worse stuff is circulating around middle schools everywhere, like social media posts with pictures of the victims, telling them they’re fat and should just “kill” themselves. This is happening right here in our school.

I was a victim of bullying in school, and I can’t begin to imagine how much worse it could’ve been were there cell phones and social media. Three girls in 7th grade – Laurie, Farrah, and Jean – decided one day that I was their mortal enemy, or at least a worthy butt of all their jokes. Laurie, the ringleader, would make fun of me in class, make fun of my small breasts (because really, WHO has small breasts when they’re 12?), and – on one occasion, one of them followed me down the hall poking me with a pin.

When I was in 9th grade, a 10th grade girl on my bus loudly announced me as Tarabitch every time I got on, and threw a sandwich at my head once. Lori, and her friend Julie, must’ve had a lot of fun at my expense. I had exactly zero interaction with either of them before this, and roughly zero after the fact. I never quite understood what I’d done to garner her attention.

Later on in 9th grade, on a class field trip, I was walking with a group of friends when I was confronted by a pair of twins – whom I had known and never had any trouble with before. Apparently I had offended one twin in some way (probably by just existing) and the other, loudmouthed twin Denise confronted me and warned me to “watch [my] step or [I] wouldn’t have a step to watch.” Kinda funny now, but really, WTF?

Hey – I survived. But today kids are mocking and bullying others on social media – posting pictures of them and calling them “fat,” and “ugly,” and “why don’t you just kill yourself?” (This was reported at my daughter’s school, but we know it happens everywhere.) Before the internet, social media, and cell phones, your bullying ended when you left the school. At least until the next day.

Well, here’s a question: Why in hell do these children have cell phones and social media access? These are 11/12 year olds doing this. If our children have unlimited and unsupervised access, then the problem lies with US.

Some of them have had cell phones since elementary school. WHY? What reason is justified in giving your 4th grader a cell phone?? Why aren’t parents monitoring how these phones are used?

Parents need to step up and take the responsibility back. The bullies are able to reach their victims in a wider spectrum because they have access to social media. The victims are being further victimized because they have access to social media. And before I’m misunderstood – I am in no way suggesting that the victims are in any way responsible – because, in truth, they don’t need to have social media to feel the burn. Because if everyone else in school can see what’s being posted about them, even if they can’t, they will surely hear about it.

Parents also need to take responsibility for their ROLE in bullying. Because you know what? Even grownups are guilty of this BS. Case in point: A night out with friends from high school revealed ill-feelings expressed toward them by other people – even NOW – 30 YEARS after we graduated high school. What the actual f*ck??!

Are we really so petty that we are still shunning people we disliked in high school? And, for the record the woman who experienced this was not a friend in high school but I came to know her in these later years and she is one of the kindest, most caring people I have ever met. I’m proud to know her today and call her a friend. I also realized, through our conversation that night, that those persons who still “dislike” her actually “unfriended” me, presumably because of my friendship with her?

I say again, WT actual F? 40+ years old and still acting like a juvenile? I guess this is a great illustration of how some folks have not matured, and why the bullying issue has to be addressed at the parents’ level, don’t you think?

Full disclosure: I wouldn’t talk to any of those aforementioned girls/women if my life depended on it. I’m not bitter. Forgiveness is not mine to withhold. But self-preservation IS. And I hold absolutely no ill-will when I say I’d be happy to tell them where to go, if we were ever face to face. They owe me an apology, which I’m sure I’ll never get. However, I sincerely hope that their children aren’t bullies, or worse – children who have been bullied.

Yet – where does bullying begin and end? How do we as parents address it? How do we as adults set the right examples for being good humans who accept all people?


The Island of F*cked Up Dreams


I’d rather be here.

Copyright by proxy, The Tara Chronicles, 2018

Now that Todd is home from an enviable 4-day business trip to Nashville in an amazing hotel, I am sleeping like a log again. It was the longest we’ve been apart in over seven years. Technically we didn’t lay eyes on each other for two days, but had three nights in an empty bed. I don’t sleep when he’s not home. And when he is home, I fall asleep like lightning. I tell him that it’s a compliment because it means I’m totally relaxed and at peace when he’s home.

Sleeping like a log is just a state of the body, for the mind conjures up some real whoppers. Since I hardly slept while he was away, I fell into a deep sleep Saturday night and into a rabbit hole of drama and intrigue that took me through locations and conditions I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

In our house, which looked nothing like our house, there was a kitten that looked identical to Oliver and Veruca was pleading with me to keep it. There was also a baby raccoon in our living room, which I found adorable and had more interest in keeping than the kitten, though I thought I should ask Andy if he wanted it first. (Andy and raccoons: true, long story.)

Anyway, the kitten wasn’t housetrained and it started pooping on the carpet. Veruca ran over to it, saying it was okay, she’d take care of it, and I watched in horror as she pinched off the poop as it was coming out and picked up the kitten. (Which is crazy, right? V is a germaphobe who washes her hands and arms to sandpaper like a surgeon, and worries about a speck of poop on Oliver that doesn’t exist.)

On another note, I keep having these recurring dreams of living in a house that is infested with stray cats. They’re confined to one room that no one lives in and they get in there through a cubby hole that connects to a long tunnel leading out of the house. I followed this tunnel in one dream and it lead to the outside, to a long gulley that in turn lead to a stone springhouse with an old wooden door. These cats scattered like mice when I’d enter the room. I wasn’t afraid of them, but wanted to get rid of them. I asked Todd in one dream if there are “exterminators but not exterminators” who handle cat infestations.

So anyway, back to Saturday night. I lived in a small city – and there was a lot of walking and moving things from place to place. And then suddenly I’m in labor. I’m in labor, but I know that I’m not progressed enough to be admitted so I’m hanging out at home in my apartment and I have no idea where Todd is. I’m breathing through the contractions, and it’s mostly dull pressure through my pelvis, and I’m just walking around stooped over and rubbing my lower back.

And then I woke up. And the discomfort I was feeling in my dream was real. OMG, I had to go to the bathroom. Seriously. The pressure in my bladder translated to labor pain in a dream. I’ve had the labor dream before, where again I couldn’t be admitted yet so I was walking around the lobby until I could. (Don’t remember if that one ended in the bathroom though.)

Next up: Work. I was at work. It was very busy, and this woman with a thick Russian accent walks in. She asks me if she can make an appointment for herself. Her car broke down and she’s stuck here, and just thought she’d find something to do. I explain to her that we are a pediatric office and she would need to go to an adult provider. She asks where one is. Downstairs I tell her, and then she asks for directions.

The next thing I know I’m walking down there while she waits in my office, giving her directions from my cell phone as I go. But her husband has taken over the call, and I’m giving directions to him. He thanks me and, as I’m walking back up to my office, he asks me if Dr. So-and-So is there. I tell him I’m sorry I don’t know which providers are there, that I’d have to google that information which he could just as easily do, and I really have to get back to the patients in my office.

When I get back, I’m sent to wait in the back exam rooms to direct patients – which really means I’m just standing around in an area with no windows and it’s terribly boring and I just want to get back to the front desk. I figure it’s because I’m the newest, and thus relegated to the least desirable tasks first.

Eventually I leave there and walk down the outside hall, and pass a grandmother who mutters something nasty under her breath. I turn back and ask her if there’s something I can help her with. She complains about how long she’s been waiting for her granddaughter to be seen and then, actually there’s FIVE children with her who are scheduled. I offer apologies and tell her I’ll go check the schedule and see what I can do to expedite matters. She apologizes to me for being so nasty and gives me a hug. I go back to the front desk and sit down at my computer, staring at the day’s schedule and not seeing any names. ANY names.

Mildly panicked, I tell Barb I can’t see any names. She is busy and can’t help me; in fact, she’s not even listening to me. I try other workstations and those screens are black and I can’t seem to log in to any of them. And then I notice that it’s getting dark in the office and no one has turned the lights on. I ask Barb where the light switches are, and she just says, “over there. Right there,” as if I have to be stupid not to know where they are. And I’m still asking her about the grandmother who’s waiting in the hall, and she finally tells me that their appointment isn’t until 5:30 and they’re an hour early.

By the time I go to tell grandmom this fact, they’re already being led back to an exam room and I’m off the hook. I go back to the front desk and there’s a handful of moms standing there, and suddenly there’s my DAD – telling a joke and everyone is completely enthralled. And I’m all like, Dad! What are you doing here?! And everyone looks at me like, ssssh!!!

And suddenly, it’s morning.


My Left Foot, His Left Ear, & Other Things

Every morning I drive my two up to the bus stop, and every morning they find something stupid to piss each other off with. Usually it’s Opac pushing V’s buttons at 6:57 a.m. and she – being an already moody child who is also in the ugly grip of adolescence – gets instantly pissy with him, telling him to SHUT UP, loudly. And he, grand-instigator-of-instigating who never misses a beat, says something equally biting back that he knows will set her teapot whistling. And then there’s me, stuck in the ever-shrinking space of the car’s interior rubbing my eyes and envisioning how peaceful it’s going to be when I get back inside the house. EVERY morning.

This morning, though, was peaceful enough… Veruca pointed out that she heard me snoring last night. You did? I said. To which O pointed out that my door was open. I asked if it was loud, and she said no, and then demonstrated.

Yes – I snore. I have sinus issues. And currently on antibiotics for a sinus infection. (More on that later.)

Anyway. V continued to demonstrate the sound I made which, for what it’s worth, wasn’t that bad. Opac, in the back seat, ordered her to stop it – it was making his head hurt worse, because he’s congested. She fired back at him something about being stupid, or who cares, or something like that, and now he’s the pissy one.

I might have said something to him like calm down and, as he was exiting the car, he bitched about how he can’t calm down because she was “snoring at me.” He stalked away from the car toward his bus and then suddenly turned back, because in his pissy-ness he’d picked up the tissue box I keep in the car (which is bright pink, btw)… stalked back to the car, opened the back door, threw the box in, and took off.

Meanwhile, back in paradise, we had a snow day after my last post. V’s friend, the Boss, came over again and the two of them shook the roof down. If I ever had my doubts about who makes more noise – girls or boys – I’m sure now. They wanted to play Xbox, which Opac will not share because he doesn’t trust them not to use up all his data or delete something important. I suggested they play on a different system, and of course there were no AA batteries in this house. I sent out a desperate plea to my neighbors, and was soon walking down the street to retrieve 4 AAs so these girls didn’t make me go completely insane.  Opac left the house to go to his friend’s up the street, and I told him it wasn’t fair that he was leaving me alone with these two. He was hardly sympathetic.

Todd had a bowling tournament on the 10th. I worked in the morning and came home to shower and change. I lost my footing in the shower and slipped, doing the Scooby shuffle before my left leg went completely out and my toes broke my fall on the frame of the sliding doors. I was sure I’d broken a toe and I was in this weird juxtaposition of hysterical laughter and pain. I couldn’t wear the shoes I’d planned to wear because now 3 of my toes were swollen and turning black and blue, and I couldn’t walk on them.

Then I burnt the back of my neck with the curling iron. I sat down on the couch to avoid further injury to myself, and texted my bestie to tell her I almost died and I wanted her to know, in case it happened again and I didn’t make it, that I loved her. I sent a similar text to my dad, who was hundreds of miles away in Kentucky (another post for another day) and he called me immediately and made me feel bad for worrying him as I laughed myself silly. I reminded him that if it were true, I certainly wouldn’t text him so casually.

And before you judge me harshly for fooling with my dad that way – when I told him what really happened, he laughed at me. Laughed. Obviously my sense of humor came from somewhere.

So two days later I was back at work because one of my coworkers got The Sick. Hers was the stomach variety and I briefly worried, since we’d worked together on Saturday, if it was coming for me too.

Well, dodged that bullet, but by the end of the day my head was swimming in congestion. I’ve had so many sinus infections I know one before it’s fully arrived, so I called for a doctor’s appointment. I waited for an hour and ten minutes before being called. The front desk people never acknowledged my wait and when I asked if I’d been forgotten, the lady said, oh – they must be running behind. I’d love to try that line on for size at my job, and see how long it takes a parent to spontaneously combust.

So the NP I saw checked me out with the door never fully closed… which I thought was odd and not private, but I hardly cared. I just wanted to go home. She left the room to call in my prescriptions and then I was on my way. Four hours later the pharmacy still had no record of my prescriptions, so I called the office. I was on hold, and then suddenly someone picked up and started talking really fast about Medicaid and so on. I had to interrupt to let her know I wasn’t who she thought I was, and then she asked me if I wasn’t calling about Mr. Peterson – hello! Huge HIPAA violation. This isn’t my first rodeo with this practice and this is just another in a long list of mistakes.

I was supposed to work at the restaurant on Valentine’s Day but was too sick to do it, and I had to work the next day so I needed the rest. Opac woke up that morning with a 102 fever and sore throat, so I gave him Motrin and care instructions and went to work. I checked in on him frequently and he mostly slept. When I got home I fixed a fast dinner, and then he and I drove to urgent care. His symptoms were different from mine, but he felt equally as awful.

I was worried about flu, like so many people are, but he had nothing going on in the chest. His left ear was inflamed and so the PA prescribed him antibiotics. We were there for 2 hours. The waiting room, when we arrived, was three-quarters full of sickly people, and the mask box was empty. When someone restocked, I grabbed two for us. Someone in triage was vomiting violently and the sound was echoing through the entire clinic, and my own stomach filled with dread. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

In other news, Todd lost his glasses on an airplane and they were not found, both pets are spring-cleaning their digestive tracts, I’m drowning in dirty laundry and sleep deprived, there’s a missing drone in the neighborhood, and the car hasn’t been washed since November.

This week, things are on the upswing… the temps reached 78 yesterday and the Bible thumpers took advantage of the sunshine by dropping by my house. I got a hug from my mom and got some major scrapbooking done while bingeing Gran Hotel. There’s also the promise of some Walmart footage from Kentucky by way of Silverfox, who’s taking Bourbon County as we speak.

Where I’ve Been – Early February Edition

Blogged while stuck at home with the HVAC guy. I could’ve been working today….

We had a weather event on Sunday that bled into Monday morning, and schools did not have a delay… but they should have. But we’ll get to that in a minute because THE EAGLES WON THE SUPERBOWL.

It was quite a show, er – game – there was suspense, drama, no penalties called on the Patriots (because they never do anything wrong), some funny commercials, and some halftime show that had all the feeling of sex leading up to an orgasm that is never achieved, BUT… there was Prince. And I so did not expect that tribute because I live in oblivion most of the time even though the game was in Minneapolis, and while I’d like to point out that my hormones have been very stable of late – I sat there on the couch with tears running down my face. Even after the third quarter started. It was pathetic. And I wasn’t even drunk.

My brother went into the city because he’s still young and stupid and 6 feet and smart enough to want to be in the center of it all as it’s going down. A couple of friends said they wished they were there, and I reminded them of Baltimore’s win a few years ago when Todd and I thought we’d “just drive into the city and join the celebration.” It felt like we were extras in Apocalypse Now. People were getting kicked by police horses and helicopters were circling overhead. Crossed that one off my bucket list.

The restaurant-staff Christmas party was brunch on Sunday. We did the Pollyanna thing – which Todd kept pronouncing “polly-ahna” and which I kept telling him was not correct. This year wasn’t as cut-throat as years past, though I still think it was unfair to steal the 16-year-old’s lava lamp and give him wax burners (not naming names). I had two mimosas on an empty stomach. That was fun. And then Andy – who was sitting next to me –dropped a name on me to watch my facial expression change (my mom’s idea). Mom, rapidly approaching her 70s, seems to think she can get away with naughty shit and blame it on her age. If I had a dime for every time she said, “well, I’m old now.”

So anyway. Back to Monday morning, when V and I waited at the bus stop for FIFTY MINUTES. Opac rode to school with a friend, so he got to school on time. The high school bus, which usually comes before the middle school bus, came 40 minutes late. At the 50 mark I called the middle school and inquired about the bus and was informed that yes – it just arrived. Arrived? I said. How is that possible when we’re STILL waiting for it?

Obviously some of the roads were icy and some buses had difficulty. All I wanted to know was WHO’s in charge of communicating that the school bus has cut out part of the route? I still don’t know the answer to that one, but it was suggested to me for future reference – when I called to ask them why Veruca was marked absent yesterday – that I can call the transportation office. Oh, and if V has a cell phone, she could call me from her bus stop if she’s ever waiting too long. Um, WHAT?

The days have been filled with frustration lately. Opac was frustrated because he couldn’t find his deodorant this morning, which should come as no surprise if you could see his room, and V was pissed off about I-don’t-know-what and was generally slamming stuff around. Probably because she “can’t find anything to wear,” and didn’t like my suggestion that perhaps “something to wear” was among the mountains of clothing strewn about her room.

Me, I’m still irritated that our insurance sent me a letter of denial for V’s test strips. I called, ready to rip someone a new asshole, and turns out all that was needed was a prior auth from our provider. (Beginning of the “new year” insurances do this – FYI, for the unbaptized.) But the icing on the cake: later, a second letter came that said, “I am pleased to inform you that I have approved your request… blah blah blah.” Well, thank you and Fuck You.

Last week I missed two funerals because V got The Sick and was home for 3 days. Not that I actually look forward to attending these things, but I really wanted to be there for the two families. One was sudden and unexpected – a bacterial infection that shut down her organs and 10 days later she passed. A potent reminder of the fragility of life, and the importance of valuing every minute and loving your VIPs.

One of my resolutions is coming along nicely this year: I recently finished reading my fourth book since New Year’s… The Glass Castle. Which was every bit as good as everyone said it was, even if I wanted to strangle the parents several times over. I was thinking that both kids should read it since neither of them have any appreciation for all that they have or the fact that they have food on the table that they sometimes dislike. Todd said* it wouldn’t have the impact on them that it had on me.

Opac slept over at a friend’s house Friday night and I was sick with the doom-and-gloom anxiety until well after I got home from work. This was the first time ever that he slept at a friend’s house. Can you believe that? And not because of me. Kids these days just don’t DO things the way we did. Nevertheless, I need to find a way to not envision the worst when it comes to my kids.

Miscellaneous revelations:

You can’t please everyone. Not everyone has the same taste in food, or appreciation for what is considered quality, or understands that healthcare facilities have rules and protocol.

Perianal strep. This is real. Never heard of it? Neither had I. And, NO – before you start thinking it, no one in my household has it. I don’t know how you get it either. Hypochondriacs better get googling.

If you park near the beach with a clear glass sunroof, you can hold French fries up to the glass and watch the seagulls lose their shit. And NO – we didn’t do this, before you animal rights people lose your shit.

Hit men don’t drive red corvettes. Obviously.

If I hold the hairdryer at just the right angle, I can look like Medusa.

*Todd says a lot of things. A friend replied to my comment [“that’s what Todd said”] by asking if that’s like saying “that’s what she said.” I like it. Maybe I’ll create a subseries called That’s What Todd Said.

What Happens At Our House… Ends Up On My Blog


Copyright Taraka  & Tara Chronicles, 2018

When you put a group of boys in a room together…

It doesn’t matter how old they are.


We had a poker party last weekend. Technically, it was Todd’s poker party, but I’m the wife and therefore hostess and so it became our party that included food and pool and video games and other things.

I had to leave to pick up Veruca around 3:30, who had been at her dad’s, and it’s a stupid story that defies even my own logic and I don’t want to talk about what happened or why.

Of course I ran out of time to get ready and so when I got back I wasn’t dressed and my hair was a mess, and there were already 3 cars in my driveway. Todd and the three guys were sitting around my dining room table with no beverages and immersed in a discussion about immigration. I said a quick hi bye and ran off to my room to change.

I am very good at pulling off a quick change. Probably an old habit from my former life, where my needs were forced to find a way or forget it. But – we’re not going to talk about that either. Anyway, I was back in 15 minutes – a freaking miracle even by my own standards – and properly greeted the guys. Chris stroked my ego and told me I was getting younger. Jonathan didn’t mention this time that there was less of me than the last time, and I’m pretty sure it’s because he’d be lying.

Jason showed up shortly thereafter, and soon Todd was suggesting they grab some food and prepare for poker, as the others appeared to be running late. So here’s the scenario: The five of them circling the island and chattering about the college, because they all work there and share this knowledge of its inner workings not unlike brothers of some fraternity.

Todd was putting hot sauces on the table for the pulled pork. Jonathan – an innocent-looking man who is the instigator of mischievous shenanigans (recall the vibrator bribe of San Francisco) – throws down a fiver for the first one to do a shot of hot sauce. A SHOT OF HOT SAUCE.

THIS is what happens when grown men are left alone, people. I was invisible at this point. That is, until Todd picked up the glass and looked it over, and I jumped in to inform him I was not going to the ER tonight for anyone. Bunch of middle-aged men acting like frat boys.

So, they moved on to the buffet and the shot sat on the counter with the five dollar bill under it. I told them my brother would do it, because I know him and he’ll do anything for a challenge. This is the same child who spent summers by the pool naked until he legitimately hit puberty. Who can drink virtually anyone under the table and still maintain the appearance of sobriety. Who brought a $150 bottle of Don Julio 1942 to our summer party a few years back and handed out shots to our whole family.  The bottle was empty in twenty minutes. Not a Gemini, but he flies by the seat of his pants, like me. Except that I would never do a shot of hot sauce. Not for FIVE bucks. FIFTY, maybe.

A friend and daughter arrived shortly thereafter; B – nicknamed The Boss by Todd during softball season – was having a sleepover with V. (Incidentally, Todd has renamed Veruca “Havoc.”) So, we had Boss and Havoc playing Xbox with my brother and Opac, and later using the Oculus Rift in the guest room, squealing to a little game called Face Your Fears – which I refuse to do since I don’t need to be crawling with spiders or being chased by clowns. The rollercoaster one might be fun, or I thought so until both Todd and V said it made them want to hurl when it was over.

The poker game commenced, and Melissa and I picked at the 7-layer dip and veggies and deviled eggs and buffalo chicken dip upstairs for a while, sharing relationship horror stories because isn’t that what women do?

My brother, another bloodhound like Veruca, made his way upstairs to the food table and immediately noticed the shot glass with the 5 dollar bill under it. And like a true 20-something, knew exactly what was going on. He asked what was in the glass and –I told you so – he picked it up, threw it back, and pocketed the bill.

Chris#2 and Brenda arrived shortly after and so we all went down to the poker area together. I asked them if anyone said goodbye to them the last time we were here, because these were the folks I passed out on at our last soiree. Brenda laughed it off and I felt a bit better that Todd had walked them out.

Pool commenced with Melissa and I both proclaiming “it’s been a while,” and then neither of us played too badly except that Jamie – who doesn’t play poker but loves a good game of pool – was whispering under his breath and bugging his eyes the entire time like a coach biting his tongue.

I drank more Dogfish than I had planned, but had the good sense to filter it with water in between bottles so I remained buzzed, but lucid. Two more guests arrived, and I led them to the food and beverages, and Dan dropped his non-alcoholic beer where it exploded on the floor – just like at frat parties! – except we adults immediately cleaned it up. I suggested it was a sign that he was supposed to start with a nice scotch.

Back downstairs….Jamie jumped into the pool games and otherwise sat on the sidelines next to me, speaking in the low tones of a golf announcer, calling the play by play of the action on the table that had us all in stitches. Todd and Fred played a game I recorded nearly all of, with commentary from Jamie and myself about blue balls in pockets and scratching balls, and I thought we’d all pee ourselves over our cleverness and humor.

Brenda sat with us for a bit and shared relationship horror stories. What IS it about me? I have met more women in the last three years who have apparently seen a neon Open For Business sign on my forehead. I think I’ve chosen the wrong career path. And, before I sound snarky and insincere, I do often wish I had gone into social work and/or counseling. I might have done some good for others; I really do want to help.

Except for my one friend, whom I spoke to last night who would probably disagree since I had no new advice for her on her dilemma over her offspring. Raising kids is tough. Raising adult kids who appear lost is maddening. My conflict, too, is while I would suggest that tough love is the way to go, I am also a mother who loves her son beyond all reason and I know that I would feel exactly the same way that she does. I don’t want to sound like a hypocrite. She’s another of those whose ex sounds like a work of fiction – behavior so outrageous and narcissistic, he can’t be for real.

Oh wait —




The Delicate Balance

giphy-downsized (10)

I never think about how the dynamic of our household is laid out. How it affects the alkalinity and salinity and compatibility of all its elements like a saltwater fish tank.

The kids come and go from their dad’s house, which changes the dynamic, but it’s not unmanageable for me. At least not anymore. It is more so for Todd, who experiences his home in bursts of alternating quiet and chaos. I think I’d have a better appreciation of this sort of whiplash if he’d pick the kids up one Sunday and I waited in silence at home.

Houseguests change the dynamic, yet it’s temporary and joyful and also joyful when they leave. Don’t get me wrong, I – we – enjoy having people over. It’s one of the reasons we have an established guest bedroom.

Overnight guests don’t upset this balance. Weekend guests don’t really upset this balance. Permanent houseguests? Well, now there’s a whole blogpost.

I’ve recognized and shamelessly admit that I enjoy – no, I REQUIRE – the dynamic of our house just the way it is. I don’t do well with change as it is, and when it occurs in my house in the form of another human living here indefinitely, it’s a recipe for a volcanic disturbance.

We had a friend in need who stayed with us for a few months. It wasn’t terrible, but at some point I started trembling at the very thought that there was no end in sight. I don’t recall how it ended, exactly, or how my tremors evolved. And I’m okay with forgetting.

And then couple of years ago we had Neph. Neph moved in and we welcomed him, because he’s family and not a friend and he was young and we had rules and he was going to follow them and it would be wonderful to have another “kid” in my house. And I do love him, truly, but he has a tendency – like all males his age – to Neanderthal his way through life, refrigerators, and bathrooms. He also has his own habits that had to fit into our dynamic. However, his habits occasionally bulldozed over ours (mine) and I learned valuable lessons about speaking up without bitching, reminding without snarling, and buying food in bulk.

Furbaby houseguests can also ramp things up a bit. When my mom goes away, she leaves her beloved furbaby – which is at this very moment funny to me because he’s no baby – he’s 140 pounds of white fluff – with us. Moses is sweet and wonderful, well-behaved and easygoing. Well, except for that one time he went after Oliver in an unprecedented move that both startled and impressed me.

He and Sabra used to be boyfriend and girlfriend, when our dogs were living with my mom and her dogs. They adored each other, followed each other around, and – early one morning on the deck outside – decided it would be fun to have sex and freak my mother out. (This was followed by a few days’ speculation about whether it was true that Moses was truly neutered, and whether Sabra was knocked up.)

Nowadays, like an old married couple, they greet each other with a sniff and a tail wag and then go lie down in their respective places. So, anyway, Moses came to stay with us a couple of weeks ago, and this time my mom brought his bed so he’d feel more at home and, hopefully, not sleep on my couch.

Sabra commandeered his bed the minute he arrived, and I spent an entire week chasing her off of it. She’d lay her 38-pound body down in this giant fluffy bed, leaving her half-the-size bed for Mo, who – do the math – is 100 pounds bigger than her. So, then of course, Mo would jump up on the couch, because – comfort – and I’d walk in and holler at both of them. Rules, people!

I thought I was bad at adapting to changes in the “force,” but Sabra becomes a spoiled brat who thinks her shit doesn’t stink. Literally. It’s really quite impressive, how far she’s come from Pi’s shadow and the follower mentality.

Moses is a good boy always eager to go outside. Sabra refuses to go outside with him. He’ll run out the door and she will circle just inside it, and then run back to her bed. And then I’ll make her go out because why should I monitor the dogs and the door twice? But you know what she does? She stands by the door and looks in. And then has the audacity to come back in with Moses and expect a cookie.

So the only way she’ll go out and do her business – is when Moses is not with her. Weird. But now, Moses took to urinating on our deck within view of the sliders, and then Sabra started doing it too. Meanwhile, I’m losing hair on the top of my head.

And Moses has long been home again, and she’s still doing it. I heard Todd scolding her yesterday morning and he was pissed. She did it again this morning, and when I scolded her she looked away, feigning shame, because if she really was sorry she wouldn’t be standing there staring at me after the fact like, well? where’s my cookie?

Meanwhile, Oliver lives life on the edge when Mo is here – which I feel terribly badly about, but I do accommodate him more then and so I’d say he wins in the end anyway. He gets more treats, more love, more attention, even more than normal. What could be better? He would tell you that better would be, how about that fucking white beast go home? Except he probably doesn’t use the f-bomb because he’s so angelic. But I can see it in his eyes when he looks at me. We share silent conversations, he and I, with our eyes.

He stares into my eyes for long moments, like he is telepathically telling me the secrets of the universe and eternity and I have no idea – and then after a moment he’ll break the connection and run over and rub up against me and act like a cat again.

Maybe that’s why he loves Todd so much. Equally frustrated with me for being so unaware. He lies next to us on the couch, and I can tell he loves Todd more in those moments, as if he’s like – it’s you and me, dad. This chick doesn’t know jack about existentialism.

But that’s also part of the delicate balance.