Boulevard of Broken Dreams

There’s a new circus in town. It starts at 3 a.m. Whether you want it to, or not. Where the big top is the oversized t-shirt I sleep in – and we don’t have a clown. I hate clowns. Really. I was ruined for life, not by a childhood excursion to the circus, but by the stuffed clown in Poltergeist. That and large, dark, twisty trees too close to the house on stormy nights. Which is why I had them all cut down. Just kidding. I’m not completely batshit crazy. We don’t have any trees near windows.

But we do have poodles! Our poodles do tricks, like strutting the hallway runway in the dark, tap-dancing tapping their fancy nails on the hardwood floor, jumping through imaginary hoops to go outside and pretending to do their business for the coveted Pupperoni reward*. The water-guzzling contest is by far the most exciting.

We also have a cat. Do they even have cats in the circus? Our cat, weighing in at an impressive 16 pounds, performs a desperately hungry falsetto the minute my feet hit the floor for what I thought was the intermission bathroom break.

It all started last night with a blood sugar check that warranted a complete insulin pump set change. At 3 a.m. This always sucks – one, because I will end up fully awake and two, because Veruca will end up fully awake. But it was necessary and the pay-off three hours later was a near-perfect blood sugar. Yet, I found myself wide awake for over an hour, trolling Facebook and pretending not to notice that our senior dog was once again roaming the hallways in search of…. food? Water? The light? There’s a sort of domino effect that occurs on these nights: blood sugar check, cat hears me and thinks it’s chow time, senior dog hears the cat and assumes it’s catfood time! and she’s gonna get some, and younger dog jumps up so she doesn’t miss anything.

So, my island of f*cked up dreams becomes disjointed and nearly nightmarish as I slip in and out of bizarre scenarios where I’m working in the restaurant and there’s never enough staff (this is known as a waitress’s nightmare, and it’s REAL) or someone else is stepping on my toes behind my bar (which, IRL, everyone knows I hate). Or – I ordered a birthday cake for Veruca from Pizza Hut, which I paid for in advance, and they totally screwed it up and the frosting was smeared and sloppy and they actually thought I’d accept it that way. I demanded a refund, after yelling about how shitty their bakery is, and the manager told me I’d have to go online to apply for the refund, but here’s a bottle of Asti Spumante for your trouble. That was a nightmare, because I actually drank it.

And then there was… being Donald’s daughter. Okay, I wasn’t really his daughter, but I was part of “the family” and so he said he was buying a house for me and my kids (no clue where Todd was in all this, which is always disturbing) to live in and I kept telling him no –that I couldn’t accept such a gift from him – because in my mind it’s wrong to accept if I completely wish he’d be wiped from the planet. But he was insistent – no, no, this is gonna be great (you can hear him saying it, can’t you?) – since we will need protection from the masses of reporters, the public, and … assassins (surely). Apparently my mom was his “other” wife and THAT’S how we’re connected… and he needs to keep us all safely tucked away. And all I could think was I don’t want to be associated with him, and what happens when the world finds out? Thankfully, I didn’t have to live through that, since my overactive bladder had better ideas.

I know. Mind – Blown. There are others, too, though much less hallucinatory, that – were I to write about them – would invite psychological analysis from some of my more discerning friends who think I might need an afternoon of introspection with a professional. I’m thinking perhaps no more nachos before bed.

 *No, I do NOT give out Pupperoni rewards in the middle of the night.

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Balloon Boy

I decided to share this story on the heels of the last post, since I hinted that there was a story to tell that was connected to the hot air balloon ride.

Way back in 1997, when I was working full time in the restaurant, this guy started coming in with his parents, who were regulars, and then a date or two occasionally. I’ll call him Dan. He was charming and friendly. He loved my kamikazes.

At some point he came in alone one night, sat at the bar, and chatted with me. We got on famously. His family owned a hot air balloon company, and he was one of the pilots. We talked about his job and the fact that I’d never been on one before. He asked me out to dinner before he left.

He suggested I pick the place, so I chose a trendy place down near the city. Conversation seemed awkward at first, but we soon relaxed into our table and then it all just flowed. I had a good time and thought he was a really nice guy. For someone else. There were no sparks, no touching or kissing at all. Something about him reminded me of someone else – he seemed familiar in some way. We spoke by phone a couple times after, including one time when he asked when I was going to go on a ride with him. I joked around a little, but ultimately said I had a fear of heights and a hot air balloon wasn’t likely.

Fast forward three years. I was now married and had been working as an administrative assistant before giving birth to my son. Dan’s parents came into the restaurant one night. My mom chatted with them, as they hadn’t been in for a long while. Dan’s mom asked how I was. My mom beamed and said she’d recently become a grandmother and gushed about her little grandson. Dan’s mom was thrilled of course, and asked when he was born.

Mom told her the date and watched the color drain out of Dan’s mother’s face. As it happened, Dan was killed in a car accident the very day my son was born.

 

A 20-something’s “Bucket List”

I’ve saved college papers, creative writing, bits of prose, writing prompts… and recently stumbled across a list of things I wanted to do, written during my years at NYU – at the tender age of 20. I didn’t know this was officially called a bucket list. It’s silly.

Cruise around Manhattan (Booze cruise). There were a number of these going on at the time, not a few of them NYU-related events.

Empire State Building. Never been, unless I was there when my dad to took me to New York when I was 6. I’ll have to ask him.

Statue of Liberty. I was there when I was 6. I have no memory of it, only the memory of the plastic statue souvenir I had for years afterward.

Go to Italy – Florence, Rome, Venice. I spent the night in Rome when I was 11, on a lay-over to Greece. Doesn’t count.

Soho. I’m not sure what I meant by this. Soho isn’t far from where I lived and we did some serious shopping there.

Balloon Ride. Must’ve sounded appealing, though by the time I was 27 I had absolutely no desire to do this. Specifically – I had a friend who operated them and I flat out turned him down on a ride. *I’ve got an interesting story about this I will share in another post.

Weekend in New England (Bed & Breakfast). I spent a few weekends in New England visiting friends… does that count?

Waterskiing. I had a friend in my mid-20s who owned a boat and waterskied. I’m sure my neuroses kept me securely in the boat by this time.

Go to an antiques auction. We had a close family friend who was a world famous antiques dealer, so I guess he inspired me.

Rollerblading. This was a new craze, everybody was doing it, and it was a fast way to get around the city. I wanted to do it too. I did buy a pair and tried to teach myself. Embarrassing.

California. A short and boring trip to Laguna Beach with my parents when I was 16 wasn’t enough. Years later… and several trips to San Diego and Santa Barbara… it was wonderful and reinforced my desire to live there, though I haven’t been back in 19(!) years.

Study abroad program. I really, really wanted to go to England, though I never pursued it. If I had a do-over – I would go for sure.

Ballroom dancing. Two of my roommates were on the NYU team, and I really wanted to learn. I’m still thinking Todd and I should learn together. And I’m sure he’s laughing right now.

Acting. I really wanted to try acting, and fantasized about being on a soap. It sounds laughable now; however, there really was a summer course in acting at NYU that was taught by people in the biz, including soaps, so this wasn’t so far-fetched an idea. At over $3,000, it was costly for its time. I didn’t take it, but did take an impactful acting class at my college.

Picnic in the Park (with champagne). I emphasized champagne on this list, like it was mandatory. I did do this once, on a meaningless date, so I guess I “could” check the box. However, there was no champagne involved and I have a confession to make. I don’t really like champagne. I really REALLY want to do this with my husband. With wine instead.

Buy a wig. This one is just bizarre. I will write it off as a Gemini thing – the chameleon tendencies we have.

Work in retail. Now this one is a real stretch. Hasn’t everyone worked in retail at some point in their lives? In my 3rd year at NYU, I got a job working mid-town at Express. It was a blast, and I met a handful of soap actors who shopped our store because it was around the corner from the studios. Retail beckoned again in my mid-twenties when I went to work at Macy’s. There might be money in retail, but not at an hourly rate or when it’s commission-based.

Dog show. What in the -? I have no idea why or what even made that enter my mind.

There was a lot of New York-based stuff I never did: A helicopter ride, Strawberry Fields, Central Park Zoo, American Museum of Natural History, Chinatown’s Mott & Canal Streets, Mulberry Street between Grand & Canal, Feast of San Gennaro, Battery Park, Wall Street and the NYSE.

I passed through Chinatown a handful of times, though I ate in this really fabulous noodle house on the fringe once. I walked on Wall Street, does that count? I spent a bit of time in Central Park, sunning myself on the hill next to the Met while I studied, but I never visited the zoo. I listed the Guggenheim, which for some reason I never went to; I did go to the Frick, MOMA, and Met many times.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral. My roommate and I stopped in there during the holidays and it was breathtakingly beautiful and, not surprisingly, filled with people.

Tavern on the Green. I got my wish on graduation day with my mom and my dad. We had lunch there with a bottle of Dom Perignon and I don’t remember what any of us ate except the exquisite lobster bisque. (The Dom was not my idea, by the way).

Comedy clubs – Caroline’s, Boston Comedy Club, Comic Strip, Dangerfields. I frequented the Boston Comedy Club for its proximity to where I lived. One trip to Dangerfield’s was an unfortunate blind double date. The comedy was great. The date was not.

Top of the World Trade Center. This is bittersweet. I never did go to the top, though I passed through the WTC on the subway to downtown many times.

Tony & Tina’s Wedding. This show had only been running for a few years by the time I got to New York, but it sounded like so much fun I wanted to go too. Never went.

Carriage ride around Central Park. I saved this for last, because it was quite an elaborate fantasy I had created. I imagined myself in this beautiful forest-green gown, riding in the carriage with my man. There was no man at the time, but the dress was real – I found it completely by accident while I was shopping with my friend at Bloomie’s. Silly as it sounds – I imagined this event in more detail than my own wedding. And I never forgot it. Perhaps I will one day live it out?

This find inspired me to write a new one. I wonder what will be on it?

 

 

 

 

 

What? or, I Didn’t Hear That?

Another blessing of being middle-aged – hearing loss. I’m simultaneously being sarcastic, and serious. Most of the time I find it annoying, since people who inherently speak in lower tones will be speaking to the deaf if they’re talking to me. Here’s how you can tell when I’m not hearing you: I lean in slowly and I smile and nod a lot. Those I’m familiar with I’m happy to say, what? Those I don’t know well, I take the road silently traveled and pretend to hear every word. This is bad. I know it’s bad, the same way retrospect reminds me how bad it was to ignore what I didn’t understand in 9th grade algebra and never asked any questions.

At home, it’s become a growing problem that ultimately pisses me off. My kids will say something to me, and I’ll respond with a hmmm? or a what?  And then they say – nevermind. This is a problem, because they’re frustrated that I can’t hear them, and I’m frustrated because I’m afraid I’ll miss something important they’re sharing with me like, the house is on fire or …that I’m on fire. I don’t want to stop the dialogue, especially when my 15-year-old son is sharing with me. It’s the crumb I will jump at like a squirrel on a birdfeeder.

This morning Todd was working on programming and so I settled into my chair with my laptop and a cup of coffee, content to read Facebook and emails quietly and not interrupt him. But he got up and wandered into the kitchen, presumably to refill his own coffee, and then he started talking. I listened intently, as often I’m trying to determine whether he’s texting someone, thinking aloud, or actually talking to me. It’s anybody’s guess. This time, he was talking to me. But then he’s wandering around the kitchen, and ultimately into the dining room where he mutters something unintelligible.

I said, what?

Nevermind, he said, sighing heavily with what I interpreted as frustration.

Now it’s my turn to be frustrated. I can’t help that I can’t hear, and everyone in this house just gets mad at me when I ask them, ‘what?’!

Apparently if I say, “I didn’t hear that,” it instantly translates to, I didn’t hear that. Which, apparently, is less offensive than saying, “what?” because apparently “what” translates as, I wasn’t listening. Which apparently IS offensive.

I need a rule book on communicating with hearing loss. Perhaps I should write it.

The first rule is to tell everyone – I don’t hear well. Which I already do, most of the time, especially when I’m having to ask someone to repeat something – like how they want their filet prepared (this is life and death, people!) – or when I’m getting instructions on writing a specific grant application. Details! Details! Very critical.

The family already knows I don’t hear well, but apparently they have memory problems. Which creates one big angry circle of words lost in the Bermuda triangle between my ears and their lips. Perhaps a sign? I could wear a sign around my neck.

The silver lining to the hearing loss is not hearing the bitching that accompanies growing adolescents. A whining voice (which I can decipher) I can meet with a “what?” and when they choose to not repeat it? WIN.

The Other Shoe

These thoughts have been circulating around my brain like flies on shit, and – like most things unpleasant – I chose to ignore them and/or pretend they aren’t there.

Those who know my back story will remember that I ended a rather toxic marriage and subsequently survived a very nasty custody battle started by my ex. I absolutely hate hate hate dealing with him on anything unpleasant or anything with even the remotest chance of disagreement. I literally get physically sick.

Above and beyond that – we mostly keep away from each other, other than periodic conversations that, for the purpose of efficiency, occur outside of texting because there’s just too much to cover.

Most of the time we get along just fine this way. So much so, that I tend to forget the damages he inflicted. Not to my detriment but rather to my inner peace and happiness. I’ve found my happy place and I don’t have to look back, nor do I want to. However, forgetting about the history usually leads to my letting my guard down. Comparatively, I used to do this during peaceful periods when we were married and then … WHAM! He’d go on the rampage again and attack me for some perceived wrong I’d committed.

I’d chronicle these days in my journals, once referring to him as Jekyll and Hyde. There was a line from a book I read that jumped right off the page. It was like the author, who was sharing her own story, had seen inside my front door. I don’t remember the title, or the author, or the exact quote… but it was something about walking through your house on any given day and suddenly he steps out of a doorway and sucker-punches you, and you never saw it coming. This epitomized the state of my daily life with him. I was always, always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

So we are more than 5 years apart now. Sometimes we can have a conversation and laugh about something. And that feels good, even though deep down I know it shouldn’t. Because soon enough, something happens and the tension is back and he’s on the attack. He’s so quick to attack. So quick to mistrust me, or accuse me. This is the hard part, the part where I see that the other shoe has dropped once again, and I let my guard down and allowed myself to get hit.

I get physically ill. My heart races, my nerve endings are on high alert, and my breathing comes faster. I imagine all the ways that I can defend my position. Thank God for Todd – he grounds me and reminds me that the fight is over, that our goal is to work together now. He’s incredibly sane about these matters, all things considered. Which is what makes me love him all the more – this boy I’ve loved so long, the boy who once drove loud fast cars, who wore an earring and held no loyalty to any high school clique, with the temper of teenaged angst just always simmering below the surface – now a mellowed out and responsible adult, with a cool head on his shoulders.

Without sharing details of a recent exchange, a request I made was met with essentially a how-dare-you attitude. The language and the manner in which it was used… those old familiar fight or flight feelings returned like lightning. I chose flight. How many years are left with this? I don’t want to deal with it. And that, folks, is why we have lawyers and judges and court orders and domestic relations.

Coincidentally, I got a letter yesterday from my lawyer, with a notice of the court’s intention to close the case due to inactivity for over two years. He requests me to advise him of my position. I am, by the way, ONE payment away from paying off all of my legal fees. One payment. One payment terminates my relationship with my lawyer, and with it – a nail closing that chapter in my life. Does anyone have any idea what that feels like? Nearly five years and thousands of dollars later and I still have primary custody of my kids, and I can’t get him to take them for more than a weekend over the summer.

Does anyone know what that feels like?

Never Date Somebody You’ve Never Noticed

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Imagine that you one day meet someone who has been admiring you from afar that you didn’t even know existed before they mustered up the courage to enter your orbit. Imagine that you’ve been pining away for someone else entirely. Now imagine that this secret admirer asks you out. You are either flattered or horrified. Let’s assume it’s the former, and you figure – what the hell? (Except maybe when you’re really young, you don’t use that kind of language yet.)

What the hell, you say? Don’t Do It. It won’t end well. At least it doesn’t when you’re an incurable flirt, immature, and … me. It didn’t end well because it wasn’t meant to be, was a waste of time, and took me away from my destiny. (Cue Soap Opera organ music.)

I stumbled on one of three journals I kept in my teen years, this small, navy-blue-with-white-flowers-on-it cloth-covered book. It was filled with song lyrics of the day (ahem <cough> 80s) and some really lame prose I’d written about love and longing, peppered with a little bit of lust I had yet to experience. My memory isn’t terrible, and so I can remember meeting Todd when I was 15 and what that was like. I’ve written about it before. We saw, we met, we … didn’t date. But I was definitely into him. What I didn’t know was that he was too. I mean, I thought he was, but he never even asked me out. If “WTF” existed then, I’d have posted multiple pics of my crush from a safe distance, on Instagram, captioned with it.

What was really cool about finding this journal is reading the words my 15-year-old self said about him that I’d never read in 30 years. Some senior I barely knew asked me out and I wrote that I was going on my first date – and that “Todd waited too long…” as if he were to blame for it.

I ended up dating this other guy in college who I never even knew existed. Eleven months later – was it a mistake? I don’t know, I’m truly not one to say I regret something. There are lessons, sometimes. But it was one hell of a painful lesson I didn’t think I needed. I got dumped and rebounded into another thing with yet another guy I never knew existed. And guess who came back in the middle of my rebound? Todd.

I wasn’t ready for that. As I revisit old journals to tell my tales of New York, I see just how not ready I was. New friends, new experiences… new guys… oh there were plenty of them for my incurably flirtatious self to distract myself with. It’s almost embarrassing, and why I won’t be retelling those tales if I can help it.

We spoke a handful of times that summer I moved to New York. We wrote letters. I held onto the last one he sent me – where he had hand-drawn a rose at the bottom – for more than 10 years. I regret that I allowed it to be taken from me by jealousy.

We talked about this recently. I told him I was writing this post. This all sounds like I obsess over “what if” … and I’m focused on the past I cannot change. I know someone who’s going to say so, and will also tell me that I should be focused on the blessings that we have today (you will be wrong, and I do, and I love you for caring). Anyway, what came of our conversation was this: I was literally flying by the seat of my pants back then and that I wasn’t ready for anything. I knew it, too. I wrote about it constantly.

The other thing that came of it was this: I was immature and wasn’t self-aware enough to know better. Todd said, you took what you could get. It wasn’t what I was looking for, but I took what I could get.

You go through life and you’re looking for something… and it’s just not there… or you think you’ll never find it. But others are there and it seems okay, so …. Take what you can get.

And now I think I’ve talked myself into a circle, or is it a corner? Am I advising against dating someone you never noticed? No, cause that would be stupid. Do I really obsess over this? Nah…I just enjoy dissecting things sometimes. It’s fun to imagine where we’d be without those “intermissions.”

One thing I know for sure – the route may have been different, but the destination would still be the same.

 

 

I’m Moving

Yes, it’s true. I am moving. I have an insatiable thirst for new experiences and I like changing things up.

So this time, instead of rearranging the furniture or changing my hair color, I’m changing my blog. It’s time. New name, new place.

I’d love for you to come with me. You can do it here.

Welcome to New York, Baby Girl

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September 2, 1989

I’m sitting on my bed now in Third Avenue North. I can’t believe I’m finally here. I’m feeling really nervous and anxious, mostly because there’s really nothing I can do… which sounds incredibly stupid since I’m now living in the city that never sleeps.

Mom drove me up here with all my stuff packed tightly into her little BMW, and I directed her to my dorm. She says she’s not familiar with New York like she is Philly, and she’s afraid of getting lost. I tell her that’s ridiculous, since New York is a grid of numbered streets and avenues and if one street goes one way, the other will go the opposite. I don’t know how the hell she doesn’t get lost in Philly with all the streets named after trees. Where’s the logic in that??

We checked me into my dorm and they give you these big-ass commercial laundry-like carts to throw all your stuff in so you don’t have to make 300 trips up and down the elevator and out to your car. Afterward, we took a walk together down the block to one of the corner delis and mom bought me some groceries and other supplies for apartment living. We passed a resale shop with antiques and instruments in the window and mom said I should learn to play an instrument while I’m here. Like the flute. Um, yeah. Like that’s gonna happen.

She’s filled with advice for practical and impractical living, and made sure to ask me if I knew how to tell a man was gay. Which, by the way, is the most fucked up thing she’s ever asked me. Growing up in the restaurant business has exposed me to countless people of all persuasions, not to mention that several of her close friends are gay. I’m guessing she’s afraid I’ll fall in love with someone who won’t like me that way. And now I’m wondering if this happened to her?? At the time, I didn’t think to ask.

Saying goodbye was tough. More for her than for me, I think. I was anxious to just “get to it”… stop dragging out my former life and embrace the city. She hugged me tightly and (teary-eyed) told me she loved me and I need to call and, “don’t hide yourself away here.” I think she meant don’t hide in your dorm room, which I am predisposed to do when I’m feeling overwhelmed.

I’m living in apartment-style housing, so there are two bedrooms shared between four roommates, a kitchen and common living area. There’s only one girl here right now – Jane – a senior who’s been here since her sophomore year. My roommate isn’t here yet and I have no idea when she’s coming, since I never spoke to her. I only know that she’s Greek, which is comforting since I’ve grown up half my life with a Greek stepfather.

I’m almost completely unpacked, except for a few small things. My room, on the fourth floor, overlooks the courtyard, which is incredibly noisy with the sound of those rolling carts going back and forth and voices floating skyward past my window like they’re on amplifiers. I cleaned the bathroom, which was really disgusting with all these little hairs scattered everywhere, and I’m amazed that Jane didn’t feel the need to do any cleaning last week when she moved in. She said her roommate, “A,” doesn’t come until Monday. Jane’s a bit strange, but really she’s just very outspoken and doesn’t mind being so. She doesn’t know Roxanne either, so hopefully she’s a transfer like me who’s starting over.

The next day felt a little better. My anxiety has abated, if only a little. I got up and decided to venture out, took a cab halfway uptown and wandered the rest of the way. I walked all the way back home. I’m so tired now.

Jane invited me up to her friend Linda’s room to watch movies tonight, which was really nice and I decided to go cause I knew I wouldn’t be doing anything better. They told me not to take anything A says personally, she just has a strange way about her. Great. I can’t WAIT to meet her.

The news lately has been all about racial divide and disputes, which admittedly I casually paid attention to but it got real today. While I was walking home, I passed 3 black men dressed in white and standing on the sidewalk facing a gathering crowd. Holding a microphone, one was talking about the white man and his indifference just as I was passing through. I have never felt more conspicuous in my life, not even on that bus in the Bahamas.

On Labor Day Jane and I pondered again where my roommate is, and wondered if she was even coming. If she doesn’t show up, I’ll end up with a single – at least for a little while. The anxiety hasn’t fully abated yet. This is going to be very hard, much harder than I anticipated. I have these fleeting feelings of going home, not staying here, and working full time. But I have to give it a chance.

A” seems alright – a little strange – but I like her. She’s quiet in some ways, but then she’ll drop some judgmental statement like a casual fart. Not sure how to take it yet.

I hung out tonight with both her and Jane and met some of their friends who seemed nice. It’s really nice of them to include me and I appreciated the gesture. And Jane gave me a tape. I’ll have to listen to it soon.

September 7, 1989

Today was the first day of classes. I had The Family at 9:55 and Literary Interpretation at 2:50. My roommate finally came yesterday! She’s really cool. Her sister is staying here too because she’s on the waiting list for housing. So apparently she’ll be staying with us for at least two weeks. I’m not sure how this is going to work, but whatever. I’m not the one who has to share a twin bed with her.

We’re going out tonight! First time clubbing in New York.

 

 

New York, Early Spring 1991

 
Another generally irritating day, where I had a list of things to do and only accomplished half of them. I’m carrying this annoying bag filled with the work of the day, and it’s so heavy that when it swings it nearly knocks me over. I had to stop at the store to pick up a few things, so now I’ve got another bag. It’s pouring down rain out, and the wind is threatening to invert my umbrella. So there I am, struggling with these three things and dropping my mail on the wet floor at the guard’s station as I struggle to locate my ID and at the same time keep the soaked umbrella away from my pants.
I stumble into my apartment, violently thrust forward by the weight of my bag as it slips off my shoulder. I sigh heavily with an air of annoyance, and I feel the tears burning behind my eyes. All I want to do is sit in my bed in the dark, with the covers pulled up to my chin, clutching my lifelong friend Teddy. And cry. What an incredibly frustrating day! Nothing went right.
Instead I find my roommate stretched out on her bed with the blinds up, listening to music. She’s doing absolutely nothing. Most of the time she does nothing. She’s been sleeping all day. I am instantly pissed to find her there, invading my right to privacy again.
“Hi!” she sings cheerily. She’s only a sophomore, and already she has her life planned out as far as graduation from Harvard Law. She’ll probably do it. The only thing she seems to worry about is not getting into Harvard because she only has a 3.7 GPA. It really irritates me to hear her complain about this.
Last semester I was contemplating law school – I even have a dusty white box in the back of my closet with about twenty bulletins. Criminal justice is fascinating, and I’ve always been interested in helping people (and the money doesn’t look too bad either). But then I changed my mind because I knew I wasn’t ready to handle the workload, and I sure don’t have a 3.7.
It really bothers me that she worries over such a tiny little thing, when she already has planned out everything else. This summer she’s studying in Korea. Next year she wants to do the Washington semester.  She’s already got an internship for next fall. I don’t even have that – I haven’t even begun the search for one. That’s just another thing on my long list of “Things to Do.” It bothers me that she already knows what she wants to do after only two years in college and I’m still playing the guessing game after four. I want to know too! When I talk about the uncertainty of my future and worry about graduation and finding a job, she looks at me blankly like I’m a lunatic.
So I stumble into my room. I can’t even look at her. If I open my mouth I’ll say things I’ll regret.  I want her to get out. I swear she hasn’t left that spot since she crawled into it last night. I toss my bag on the floor, rip off my jacket, kick off my shoes, and fall into bed.  I pull the covers up over my head, and lie still. I wait. The tears are stinging my eyes. I slip one hand out from under the covers, groping for Teddy’s leg somewhere behind my head.
She either gets the hint or is getting hungry. She turns off the radio, closes the blinds, and leaves me in the empty darkness of our room. I close my eyes and try to envision something peaceful – a warm, sandy beach, blue ocean, me, and nothing but the sound of seagulls soaring overhead. But, as usual, it doesn’t work. Something is gnawing at the pit of my stomach, and I just want to cry and cry.
I want someone to come along, take my hand, and show me the way. I’m on some rollercoaster ride to nowhere and I just want to get off. I wish the end of this road wasn’t so dark and scary. I wish I had some answers.
©taraversus2016

 

What’s New Under the Sun

As my youngest rapidly approaches the end of her elementary career, I am reminded of not only how young she is, but also how fast she’s growing up. And I’m not ready.
Several nights ago, Veruca got her first phone call from a boy. She was all cool and simultaneously silly – and he’s “just a friend” and he bet her $5 that if he called her, her mom would answer the phone. If that isn’t the biggest crock of bull to get a girl’s phone number… and she fell for it, hook, line and sinker. Whatever the exchange was, they kept getting cut off (you know, cell phone service being what it is) and he kept calling back, and eventually she turned her phone off so he couldn’t call again. Ha!
Last night at dinner she told us that he didn’t give her the five bucks he bet her, and she was pissed. Okay – not really. More like, not fair – that’s not how the game works. Todd told her to ask him for it – you know, a bet’s a bet and she won fair and square. She said, can you tell him? We joked about him calling on her behalf as her “attorney.” We had a good laugh before I looked at her and said, seriously – he likes you – why do you think he asked for your number? Which apparently hadn’t been considered.
There’s an awful lot of liking being circulated through the fifth grade. This one likes that one, that one wants to date this one… wait, date? Who dates in fifth grade?!
Annnndd… apparently the principal knows the answer. Yesterday Veruca told me Mrs. Fitz came to the classroom to talk about some big problems they’re having in school. In Veruca’s words, some kids are “having sex in school.” Cue screeching brakes. (We were in the car.) I said WHAT?! Just how is that even possible? I don’t know, she said, probably in the bathroom. This was her guess – and by now I’m wondering just exactly what Mrs. Fitz said. Did she actually use the word “sex”? She did. Still – I found myself thinking out loud… just how is that even possible? You know – mechanics, people! Meanwhile, in her usual way of ignoring and talking over me, Veruca speculated it could’ve been anyone from kindergarten through fifth grade, though probably 3rd or 4thor 5th graders. Huh.
Coincidentally, there was an incident about 10 days ago where Veruca heard a boy in art class tell her friend to “suck my —k” and she was upset about it. She said she told the teacher and she did nothing. This is where it pays to be a sleuth – because you absolutely cannot take anything a 10-year-old says at face value without some digging. (She only told the teacher that he said a bad word.) Needless to say, I told her that he cannot talk that way to a girl – or anyone. It’s wrong and in some parts of the grown up world it’s considered sexual harassment – which is a crime. So, the next day she took it to the assistant principal, who thanked her for coming forward.
So another big issue in school is profanity. Well, now there’s a surprise. Veruca tells me that the back of the bus is Grand Central for misdemeanors of the elementary kind. Meanwhile, back in school… Hunter dropped the f-bomb in the adjacent classroom and everybody’s talking about it.
My son, whom I will now refer to as Opac (OHpock), is learning how to fine tune his communication skills not only by texting me when he wants to stay after weight-training to play a little b-ball with his friends, but also by not spontaneously exclaiming the f-bomb at his sister. It’s a work in progress. The dollar in a jar isn’t working with him, primarily because he has no money. Next offense will result in grounding. And it won’t be pretty.
Veruca couldn’t wait to tell him what her principal said. She said, guess what my principal said to our class today? And then she looked at me and said, you tell him. Like it’s my story to tell. Opac shared that all kinds of stuff like that was happening in middle school last year, which really did nothing to ease my discomfort about the whole matter. Who remembers this stuff??
When I was in elementary school there was liking going on, though in nearly all circumstances it was one-sided, and mostly boys on the receiving end. I remember liking a boy in first grade who lived in my apartment complex. I wrote him love letters which he received and graciously tore up. Next boy was in third grade and surely unrequited, though I never told him.
Middle school was quite different. I found myself both the target and the huntress, but my first grade lesson had taught me to be more cool.  As in, act completely indifferent to anyone who shows interest. I was “going with” a boy in 6th grade for no other reason than that he asked me, and we never even held hands, let alone saw each other outside of school. There was that girl who was luxuriating in the rather obvious signs of puberty that made her an unfortunate and unintended reputation. I flew obliviously under the radar with my underdeveloped body. My first somewhat real date came years later, in 10th grade, again with a boy I had barely noticed until he’d asked. I was 15. Fifteen! My son is fifteen. He’s shown no signs of interest in anything not tied to a football. And for that – I am grateful.
Veruca, on the other hand, is acutely aware of the boys. A rumor circulated back to her that Steven likes her, and she was on a search and destroy mission to find out who started it. I suggested that she focus on her studies, and less on someone she’s not interested in. Probably fell on deaf ears, like almost everything else I tell her. And last night before she went to bed, she told me that cell-phone-boy is her boyfriend. Since when? I suppose it doesn’t matter, at least until he walks over from his development and knocks on the door.
I’ll let Opac answer it.
Keeping watch on the neighborhood.