Inclement Weather, 49 hours later

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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…

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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…

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While You Were Away

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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

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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?