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.

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Of Blogging, and First Dates

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I wasn’t going to write today. I don’t typically write every day. I had a few thoughts rolling around my brain of what I wanted to write about next; they’re an eclectic and somewhat schizophrenic collection of ideas that have little to do with one another.

Todd and I worked on one of them together, several arctic nights ago. It began by the fire and ended in bed. We slid our bodies between silken sheets and soft blankets, he picked up his toy and I picked up mine and….

He continued his Angry Birds game and I pulled up the Notes icon on my own mobile device.

I took down notes on my phone about one of my creative thoughts (coming soon), because if I got up again the animals of the house would have expectations.

So yesterday I posted about blogging vs. reality and I didn’t expect the reactions I received. Hell – I didn’t expect any at all. The most I ever see is a “like” here and there; otherwise the readers are really just ghosts that come and go, silently.

So. Now I’m wondering if this will affect my output and content. To be relevant, and not just a “whatever” poster. I guess. Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe I just say thank you and keep moving forward.

I really want Todd to guest post. He seems reluctant. And while he shares my ridiculous and often bizarre sense of humor, he has a preference for privacy that rivals my salacious Gemini nature of the shock factor. He is amused by my naughty jokes amongst friends, my improper remarks about our sex life to him in intentional earshot of others; however, to write about what really goes on behind our bedroom door, or when the kids are away and the cat is sleeping at the foot of the bed … is that-which-shall-remain-sacred.

I once made a remark to a gay friend that had everything to do with my mom’s shop vac – I said, Todd’s is much bigger. It truly wasn’t spoken out of turn, but when I saw his reaction, I winked. Todd, however, laughed it off and really – who in their right mind would be angry with that implication? Besides, on the heels of yesterday’s post and in the interest of honesty, Todd really does have a big… shop vac.

Anyway. As we careen toward another shiny object… on a different arctic night (we’ve had several here in our region of the world)… Todd remembered! At least we think he remembered, and since I’ve rendered what facts he presented to support this memory as highly likely… I think he uncovered the mystery of When Our First Date was.

A number of times I had admitted to not remembering our first date, and Todd was equally perplexed though perhaps it was irrelevant anyway because, today. I said before that while I don’t remember our first date, I do remember spending New Year’s Eve together.

Well, the mystery has been solved. I think. Through a series of what should have been the most obvious deductions… Wait! Back up.

Todd and I met in the fall of 1984. But, as my mom taught me that girls don’t call boys (or wear black, whatever the hell that meant in the 80s) and I was shy anyway and would never have flat out told a boy I was interested (which really deserves a separate post), and therefore he had no idea that I was because he’s also oblivious – and yes, that’s in the present tense because he IS and shamelessly admits to it – we never went out.

There was an awful lot of “let’s insert myself near this person so they can’t miss me” behavior, but it wasn’t until the fall of 1985 that we danced around each other again. And it wasn’t until another young man named Tom told Todd he’d better ask me out before someone else did, though I have no idea what insight he could possibly have had since I never spoke two words to him. Sometime thereafter, the timeline of which remains a mystery, Todd did ask me out.

However, the following deductions have led to the conclusion that the actual real First Date was, in fact New Year’s Eve. (Which would also explain why we can’t remember another first date – because there wasn’t one.)

#1 – Todd’s birthday is in mid-December, and we didn’t spend that day together, nor was it acknowledged.

#2 – Wrestling was ongoing, so there were meets and tournaments going on on Saturdays, which meant we likely wouldn’t have gone out then either. Except for maybe a rendezvous or two in our cars, though I can assure you I was Not That Kind of Girl. Yet.

#3 – We both had jobs. He worked for KFC after school and weekends, and I worked in my family’s restaurant which was over 45 minutes away.

#4 – We didn’t exchange gifts or acknowledge Christmas.

Therefore, my Murdoch man determined that New Year’s Eve had to be the night. Not that night. Just the first date night.

I’m so excited by this revelation, if only because I’m sick of forgetting and/or not remembering shit. It’s embarrassing. And annoying.

And to think these memories were triggered by someone else’s first date. Yes, there was a first date around here recently. And that’s all I’m going to say about that, because, privacy.

New Year’s Eve 1985/86 was spent on the floor in my bedroom, two floors away from my parents who I am still shocked allowed this first boy into my bedroom on our first date and trusted us. I had a stereo system on which we played my collection of Prince vinyl and talked for hours about lord knows what. I’m certain that his lips found mine somewhere during that long conversation. I’m certain that I melted in the glow of this intensity I’d only written about in journals before.

I had no idea where that night would end. Living in the moment and flying by the seat of my pants is an earmark of Gemini existence. I’m sure I’m a young soul, still learning the lessons old souls like Todd have known for centuries. It still thrills me to kiss him and smell the very same smell of his 17-year-old skin. It stirs something in me I’m afraid I’d need another blog to specialize in. Nevertheless, I remain blown away that that night was over 30 years, and several relationships and a marriage ago, and that we ended up here anyway in spite of it all.

Blogging vs. Reality

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Photo copyright Taraka & The Tara Chronicles, 2018.

There is something that has been bothering me for a while. Like anything you read on social media, unless you truly know someone – know them personally – you can’t believe everything you read.

As bloggers we present ourselves the way we want to be seen – all our faults hanging out on the washline, or all our triumphs, adventures, and happy lives waving like a flag on a blustery day. The relative anonymity of the Internet allows us the freedom to be who we want to be. Our words influence your perception of who we are.

When I started a blog nearly 8 years ago, it was intended to be a creative expression of my life as it really was – and shared on my Facebook page with friends and family. I was honest. No names were changed at the time, though there were some that were left out for privacy. My readers were all people I knew personally.

Until there was one. I don’t know how she found me, I have to assume through a mutual friend, and our mutual friend reached out to me to tell me that her friend enjoyed my blog and that it inspired her. That bowled me over. I had no idea that anyone really cared that much about what I wrote, since I really was writing for me – albeit on a platform that could be readily viewed by others.

And then my life turned upside down and sideways. I wrote about it and suddenly, before long, there were friends pm-ing me to commiserate, and/or admit to feeling the same way about a marriage gone terribly wrong. It was an enlightening time, and also a time of personal growth for me – that I chose to share – and bare – for all the world to see, were they reading.

I started it for accountability. Because I needed desperately not to fall back into that trap of least resistance, where my stagnant and abusive life would continue indefinitely out of fear of the unknown. But then it became larger than me, and I realized that my words were reaching others who needed their own motivation to make their lives better too.

And I continued forward. I write what inspires me, I write my mind – so that I can free my brain weasels and not go comfortably numb, or just batshit crazy. I don’t think about what you want to hear, yet it is still a whisper in the back of my mind that it has to be somewhat interesting or I become just another self-serving jerk writing garage nobody cares about.

To that end, I started reading a blogger several years ago because he was funny and his content was relatable and incited some level of compassion for him because of his circumstances. He had published a book. I was envious – that 1) he had done it and 2) I had no idea WHAT I could write at such length that anyone would actually want to read it. But beyond that, his posts began to read more and more self-centered – more me, me, me and less how can I help/affect others? That’s how I saw it, and I stopped following.

I am careful who I follow – mostly because, Time. I don’t have the time to read every blog out there that interests me, and I think many of us feel the same way. And so – before I get too far ahead of myself – I just want to thank those of you who do follow and read me. I appreciate you more than you know. You keep me inspired to keep writing. Whatever it is.

I follow, literally, a handful of bloggers out there, all very different in tone than my own. That’s IT. I found Jenny Lawson by happy accident some years ago, and if you know her, there’s no need to explain why she’s still on my list. I NEED her humor. She is like a relative you look forward to seeing every holiday – a sentiment I’m sure is shared with the thousands of others who follow her. On her site I found another intriguing blog – and haven’t looked back.

It’s rated M for mature audiences for every reason why and I never miss a post. While she writes under an alias to protect her identity and those around her, due to the content, there’s an undercurrent of honesty and real-ness to her posts that is poignant and riveting. Like the book you can’t put down. She’s also very open to comments about her experiences and intelligent, successful in her own right. I’ve recently realized I’ve been following for 4 years! I talk to her like a friend, though I am keenly aware that she is only the person writing the blog and I don’t truly know her.

Through her blog I found two others – one that is truly unique and worthy of its own television series and I wish to God I could help him get this off the ground myself. And I like him. He’s like an old friend in a faraway place, we share occasional comments to each other’s posts and appreciation for one another – though we’ve never met.

The other, equally as entertaining but a bit more journalistic, is another blogger who also goes by his real name and has published books that I have on my ever-growing list of reads. He is a community servant nowadays so we see less blog posting and more – because we are Facebook friends – daily life stuff. I especially love his story about connecting with his wife – another epic second chance love story that rivals my own and it’s heartening to know there are others like us in the world who are that blessed. His face makes me smile. Especially when hers is next to his.

I also started following a “girl” via Ann’s blog (mentioned above) and once I started reading I couldn’t stop. She self-described as a woman in an abusive relationship from which she was trying to extricate herself. Her feelings and experiences were palpable to me, and I commented often with my thoughts of what she should do. Some of her content disturbed me. I won’t say I’m clairvoyant by any means, but rather that experience has taught me well and I can read a situation. She seemed to know what to do about it, but it seemed also to be taking longer than I would’ve allowed. And then – just as suddenly – she disappeared. She blogged all this shit about her abusive ex who threatened her very life, and then she ….disappeared. I allowed myself to get sucked into this stranger’s “life” and now have no way to know if she’s okay, or dead. Had to let that one go.

And, so it goes – I learned a valuable lesson in getting caught up in strangers’ lives. Who’s to say she was who she said she was? Or that any of her story was real? Could this be true of Ann, too? Or the other women I loosely follow? Or those two men I mentioned above? What if they aren’t who they say they are, but just truly creative and fictional writers? **

So, in a way, this might be considered a public service announcement about the world wide web and the social media contained within: nothing is as it seems. Don’t believe everything you read. Double check your facts, especially in cases of news reports. And take those bloggers with a grain of salt.

Even me – though I hereby solemnly do declare that my real name IS Tara and everything I write herein is as true as I can accurately write it based on my failing 48-year-old brain. I like to write with a younger voice, because I feel like a kid sometimes, but I am 48. Some names are still changed for privacy.

I write what moves me, what motivates me, what makes me laugh, love, and cry… and I do write to those I think are reading me.

What do you want to see more of, here?

Addendum: I do want to clarify that I’m not suggesting that the bloggers I follow aren’t authentic. They ARE. I am simply pointing out that “anyone” can start a blog and write what appear to be real stories about their lives which may, or may not, be true. I even called myself out – just to make the point that – if you don’t know me, how can you be sure I am who I say I am? Or that Todd exists? Just food for thought, that’s all. Don’t avoid the blog world – there’s so much good stuff out there. You’ll know when you’ve found a bard, or when you’ve hit gold.

 

Words of Wisdom This Holiday Season

When your phone rings at 8 a.m. on Christmas Eve, don’t answer it.

When your cell phone rings 10 minutes later and you can see it’s your mom calling from her restaurant, answer it anyway, because you can run but you can’t hide.

Some dogs don’t like jingle bell elf slippers. (Seriously, as of this writing, she’s still hiding in her bed.)

Jingle bell elf slippers, all four pairs going at once, recreate the magic of Santa’s sleigh landing on your lawn. Okay, not really, but it does wonders for tinnitus.

When your cell phone service pisses you off for the last time, switch providers and get new phones for everyone! Still wish I had video footage of Veruca’s face when she opened up that iPhone 8. First hug she gave Todd in 5 years.

Best way to keep the cat off the dining room table? Put up a Christmas tree.

Make sure there’s a tree skirt for him to lie on under the twinkling lights, you know, because that’s the real reason it’s there. And for the love of St. Nicholas, don’t you dare put presents over the cat’s new sleeping quarters.

If you buy a cut tree the weekend after Thanksgiving, fully expect all the branches to be petrified by Christmas day. Ornaments found on the floor at this point are no one’s fault but your own.

When returning to alcohol to celebrate the season, do remember to drink lots of water and pace yourself.

Beware of bourbon-loving party guests who bring gifts of bourbon. One full bottle of Knob Creek kicked in less than 4 hours. (FYI: Knob Creek Smoked Maple smells like French toast. Too sweet for me.)

There’s no such thing as too much food at your holiday gathering. And, adding lasagna to the brunch buffet will ensure you’ll have sustenance later to offset the alcohol.

Be grateful for free rental cars, even if they resemble an army tank. There’s nothing more reassuring to drive in foul weather, even if your feet don’t touch the floor.

When your prescription glasses disappear for three hours at the restaurant while you’re working, don’t send everyone else into panic mode. Remember the St. Anthony’s prayer. Even when you can’t.

The most important thing to have ready at a holiday gathering when time is short: clean toilets and some hors d’oeuvres. Nobody will notice anything else.

Also, turn the light and fan on in your kids’ filthy bathroom and shut the door, to scare off potential users from entering. (P.S. this only works when guests are sober.) Caution tape works well too.

While we’re on the subject, teach your 12-year-old how to use a plunger properly, so that she doesn’t turn her toilet into a mountain of soiled toilet paper.

Don’t try to drag a 70lb box of punching bag from your front steps to the garage by yourself. Remember last year’s weight-bench-in-four-parts debacle.

Set up auto-pay on bills, at least for the duration of the holiday season.

Movie-goers? Buy your tickets ahead of time for the epic movie release of the season. Even if you’re attending the 9 a.m. showing on a church day.

Gifts do not have to be wrapped until Christmas Eve. Unless of course, you don’t enjoy stress and nosy children.

If you suspect your child is getting sick, don’t wait until Saturday before Christmas, thirty minutes before closing, to call your pediatrician. Also, if you are told by the triage nurse to go to urgent care the night before and you choose not to, do not be upset when there are no appointments left on Saturday morning.

When your kid’s sleepover gets cancelled through no fault of her own, take advantage of mother-daughter time by slathering on charcoal face masks and sending selfies to grandma.

Xanax works wonders on nervous energy and anxiety, I’ve heard.

Repeat after me: I WILL NOT get it all done before Christmas, and no animals will be harmed and no one will die because of it.

 

 

 

3:38 a.m.

Bladder calling! My legs are trapped in a web of sheets and blankets, items deemed unnecessary for a sleeping Todd that get pushed to the bed’s center and somehow always end up twisted around me like a boa constrictor. To make matters worse, the cat is sleeping at my feet, further restricting movement. A handful of silent profanity later and I’m back in bed, trying to rearrange the bedding without waking Todd.

My feet are hot. I still have ¾ of the bedding on my side so I can’t get my legs out without considerable yanking and pulling the covers away from my body. Finally, I manage to get one leg cleanly out. Oliver decides to leave now, pulling the bedroom door open with his paw, and disappears down the hall. I rearrange my pillows, lay my head down and stare at the red numbers on my alarm clock. 3:52.

And now I’m awake. I take a deep breath and close my eyes, willing myself not to start thinking. Please don’t think. Nothing that can’t wait till morning.

4:03. I’m uncomfortable. The bad elbow is aching, so I roll over to my left side, except that this means my legs are back under the quicksand. Another deep breath. I can do this.

A few minutes later 16 pounds lands behind me on the bed. Oh good, Oliver is back. Except that he is now kneading the covers. Lie the fuck down! I want to hiss at him, but by this time I’m sure Todd must be awake and if we start talking to each other that’ll be it. Finally he is sufficiently satisfied with his work, and lies down right up against my legs, effectively immobilizing them. RIGHT back where I started. Dammit.

He weighs sixteen pounds. That’s more than the turkeys I bought for Thanksgiving. He weighs more than a Thanksgiving turkey. I really wonder if he should be on some sort of diet. The vet seemed unconcerned at his last appointment. He’s so sweet. He’s been exceptionally close to me of late. Probably because it’s cold out now. Selfish little bastard.

But I love him more than he’ll ever love me, and I don’t quite care. I’ll keep loving him, and cleaning his box, and thanklessly feeding him at the crack of dawn. And pray he lives forever. Because I just can’t say goodbye to another animal. Oh lord, why am I thinking about the cat’s mortality at 4 o’clock in the morning?

V and I saw a cat at Petco that looked just like him. Wouldn’t it be cool to have two identical cats? No. No, I will not adopt another cat.

I think maybe I should write something about Thanksgiving and our trip to Costco. Nah, maybe not. What’s new about an angry old lady pushing her monster-sized shopping cart against the flow of traffic, giving the death stare to everyone in her path? Nothing terribly interesting happened on Thanksgiving either, other than me accidentally dumping roughly a quarter cup of garlic powder on turkey #2. You know Todd actually asked me if I at least washed some of it off? No, I did NOT. What’s wrong with a little extra garlic?

I really, really need to go back to sleep. In two hours I’ll be up for work. We have no appointments scheduled, but that will change at 8:01. All the stockings for our Secret Santa are up in the break room. What the heck am I going to put in mine? Still being the new kid, I was hoping to at least get someone I knew a little bit better than I did six months ago. Well, that kinda worked out, in both a strange and daunting twist of fate. I’m both glad I got her, and a little intimidated too.

I have reports to work on today. I wonder how many things I can check off my list this morning?

I can’t believe Christmas is coming. What am I going to get for Opac this year? I’ve already got V’s handwritten list. She’s thinking ahead for once. I hardly spent any time with her on Thanksgiving. Ah well, she hardly seemed to notice since my mom was there. I love how the kids love my mom. It reminds me of  Nana, all the time I spent with her.

When are we going to get our tree? I’m not ready to put up a tree yet. Todd’s birthday is coming up. I’ve got to start planning that. Haven’t planned an open house. Probably not going to do it this year. People are always too busy. Not feeling it this year.

Damn, my elbow hurts. I’ve got to go see the chiropractor on Monday. He told me to take ibuprofen at bedtime and again in the morning, but I think I forgot last night. He also told me to ice it. I hope he doesn’t ask if I did.

Is this what aging really means? That everything hurts all the time? Bed is supposed to be a sanctuary, but at some point the body can’t take another minute of lying down. WTF is that? And my knee still hurts. Of course it does. I have mild degenerative joint disease in it. If this is what mild feels like, please just take me out behind the barn when I reach level 3. I don’t know how people with chronic pain do it.

Everyone I’ve seen in my doctor’s office just keeps prescribing me drugs. I don’t DO drugs. I don’t want to take pain pills to cover it up, I want it GONE. At least my chiro and I are on the same page. He’s a healer, not a cover-upper.

Maybe I should start doing yoga. I need to get that mat I bought 8 months ago out of the corner of my bedroom and blow the dust off of it. And speaking of dust, I need to clean the blades of the ceiling fan.

Why am I doing this at 4:30 in the morning? Why can’t I just go to sleep?

 

 

Skipping Out, While Silverfox Takes Chicago

I took my medication on an empty stomach earlier this week and slept for two hours. Some days it’s a gamble, between high anxiety and being comatose. Really, all I probably need to do is stop drinking coffee. The gamble for the rest of the week was to skip the pills and challenge anxiety to make a comeback. Definitely the better option, for productivity.

The best time to be out in public? First thing in the morning. This is not typically my MO, since I usually spend half a day on the internet before finally getting motivated to jump on the treadmill, do laundry, make the bed, take a shower, do anything. And by then it’s damn near witching hour, when V’s bus is coming and suddenly I realize I’ve done nothing all day. Cue frantic clean up and an ornery mood, because my peace is about to be broken by all the drama of the middle school female species.

I refuse to make excuses now because I actually have a job when I’m not at home. V forgot her gym sneakers the other day and I had to take a shower and get dressed earlier than I’d planned, just to walk into the front office, because I haven’t yet fully embraced the culture of pajamas and slippers. Which, for what’s it’s worth, is so NOT going to happen if it aint happened yet.

The ladies in the front office know me on sight, which I wondered aloud whether that was a good thing or a bad thing. At least I’m never there to bail her out of the slammer.

I utilized this premature entry into the outside world to drop off dry cleaning and pick up milk and detergent at the store. The grocery store is sublime at 8 a.m. No crowds, easy parking. Oh – and fresh donuts. However, the fucking post office doesn’t open until 9 and I got there at 8:45 and had to stand in the vestibule clutching two huge bags for 18 minutes, making small talk with two other women who also didn’t know it wasn’t open yet. Sublime only goes as far as enough coffee and small talk isn’t in my repertoire before 9 on my day off. And then the postal guy didn’t unlock the door until 9:03. Bastard. He knew we were out there and, giddy with power, took his time getting to the door.

This morning, I dropped the dog off at the groomer and stopped at Walmart. While Walmart and sublime do not belong in the same sentence together, I must admit it was quite pleasant. There was no cart rage, and holy shit! No lines. I found 3 of the four items I went in for, but not before I’d sauntered casually through the store like I was on the beach at sunrise.

It’s the end of September and the weather has rivaled that of August, and frankly – this is bullshit. Warm is nice; oppressive with a nuclear mosquito population is a new form of hell. Myself being mosquito bait, the only picnic is the one featuring me as the main course. WTF is up with this venom? I’m still scratching the bites I got over a week ago.

Seriously, the plants don’t even know what to do. Some are still green, and some have just given up. I think the trees have finally just unanimously said fuck it, because they’re dropping leaves like rain today. And – just in case the advent of Fall is ever a question – the stink bugs have suddenly made a very Hitchcockian appearance around the windows and doors of the house.

I hear the weather is cooling down in Chicago, which bodes well for us, I think. Although the weather this morning was cool, breezy, and pleasant. I informed Todd last night that I’m working on indoor projects until conditions improve outside – as if he even cares what I do and don’t do around the house when he’s away. As long as he has clean underwear and gas in the car, he’s a happy boy.

Speaking of Chicago, my dad is there on business and I have barely heard from him, yet he sends pictures that call into question what he’s really doing. He sent me a pic of himself on some stage seated between the Blues Brothers, captioned, “just auditioned.” The next day he sent me a pic of the Iron Throne in an AT&T store on the Magnificent Mile. He took a wrong turn one afternoon and ended up in a LGBTQ neighborhood where he was propositioned twice (hey – they don’t call him Silverfox for nothing). Two days later he’s got a Cubs World Championship ring on the tip of his finger – apparently he met some woman who works for the organization. She was probably trying to pick up Silverfox, but sorry folks – he’s a happily married – and straight – man.

Then, he was tailgating on the lake on Tuesday. If I was a millionaire, I’d fly out there and hang with him for a few days. Then my next blog post I’d call, The Silverfox Chronicles, and people would eat that shit up. Because my dad is funny.

Today is Nephtoo’s birthday and I still haven’t completed his first care package. I’m going with themed packages, and pissed myself off this morning when I realized I should have sent one already, themed, the birthday box. I’ve been doing pretty well at avoiding any Mom-fails, so I guess I was ripe for an Aunt-fail. (I so can hear SOL chastising me at this very moment.) (SOL=Sister Out Law.) (And, if you have to ask, you’re obviously not in the inner circle –which I realize sounds contradictory given the “out law” reference, but shut up already – and therefore are on a need-to-know basis.)

Anyhoo, if I say any more about the care package, it’s likely to ruin the surprise since he occasionally reads this garbage. So with that – I will close with this, from my latest Netflix discovery:

Their devotion showed me there were no versions of love, there was only… Love. That it had no equal and that it was worth searching for, even if that search took a lifetime. ~ Call the Midwife

**Disclaimer: SOL is not an outlaw. She is a law-abiding citizen with terrific offspring and killer bathroom design skills.

Random Thoughts For September

We went shopping at Lowe’s last weekend which was shocking because it was Todd’s idea. Todd had boycotted the store after a debacle there about a year ago. However, Lowe-gate couldn’t hold a candle to an entirely different debacle involving kitchen rugs from Big Lots. Todd’s busy brain took a short detour to kitchen rug replacement on a beautiful Sunday afternoon when we could otherwise have been frolicking in the sunflower fields, but…there we were.

All the Halloween inflatables are set up, so I entertained myself by walking through an inflatable house a few times while Todd looked at snowblowers. There were a couple of little kids looking at me, which made me giggle, and I briefly considered calling boooooo from inside, which took me back to that time at Crystal Cave when my then-stepmom went inside this giant teepee with me and made the Indian war cry before stepping back outside, where she totally deadpan-told these wide-eyed kids that there were real Indians inside.

I have to admit, I’d never considered putting inflatables in my front yard, but the inflatable giant ghost is kinda cool. That is, until I saw the dragon. Dragons are all the rage now, ya’ll. Big Lots had a dragon skeleton that had to be nearly life-sized but was still in the box for $139. If I’d have had the money to blow…. Instead, I’ve got the skeleton cat for $22 on my wish list. I’m hoping it will scare away the stray cats who keep shitting in my gardens.

At least they’re not shitting on my front steps like they did to my neighbor across the street. Although Todd told me that one of them shit on the front tire inside the well on the pickup truck. On the wheel well? How does that happen? That’s gotta require some skill.

Our neighbor hates these strays with a passion normally reserved for ex-wives, and has set up traps around the yards including ours to catch and, he insists, relocate them. He’s gotten so sophisticated he has cameras connected to them that send to his cell so he’ll know instantly what he’s got (in case it’s a family of raccoons – which does happen round here more than you think). It’s been a month and he hasn’t caught one damn cat. I told him they’re smarter than he is which, thankfully, he laughed off, since he is a cop and could potentially arrest me for disrespecting an officer.

Needless to say we didn’t find any rugs, but did find new curtains for the sliders. And I wandered off toward something shiny in the lighting department and suddenly we were buying new lamps for the living room. And then a really happy guy in an electric wheelchair stopped next to us to remind Todd what a beautiful wife he had while I blushed eight shades of red as he sat smiling at us both. Later, I admired the mums outside and some other fall planters. I may go back and buy them but, like anything green that requires water for survival, their fate in my hands is pretty much already predetermined.

OMG, I found a giant metal chicken! I nearly ran off the road looking at it to be sure I wasn’t hallucinating, but it was real and I need this chicken. The Bloggess acquired one several years ago, which was the subject of one of the most hilarious posts I’ve ever read, and I never thought I’d ever want one until I saw it in person. Now I’m on a mission to get it, but I’m making Todd go with me because it’s really big and I might not be able to get it into my car by myself. He said I could buy it. You are all my witnesses. Though he wants to know how much it’s going to cost. Silly man. What could be better than pulling into your driveway and being greeted by this source of enormous joy – the inspiration for knock knock, motherfucker?

I’m addicted to Amazon and Zullily. I think Amazon requires no explanation. Zullily is a dangerous website that sends you daily deals by email, and I’ve already acquired a pair of shoes, a bikini top, and some flip flops. Don’t tell Todd. He already knows about ThredUp and StitchFix.

V asks me every other day to order take-out. I have no idea where she got the impression that this was a thing, but I’m charged with reminding that it aint happening. If it’s not pizza, it’s McDonald’s, or it’s Chinese food – which, by the way, isn’t close. We can order seven – count them, seven – different pizzas just in our own small town, but can’t get a decent piece of sushi without driving a half hour. Sigh. Life in the country.

“We love to eat,” one of the first things I heard on my shadowing day six months ago, and my coworkers have not disappointed. One of them regularly brings in boxes of Tastykakes, someone else deposited exquisite M&M’s ice cream cookie treats in the freezer, and there’s always someone’s birthday to celebrate with loads of potluck items for the pickin. We have parents drop off treats too – like a box of Starbucks coffee and pumpkin cream cheese coffee cakes, and a dad dropped off a giant bag of hot pretzels when he picked up a prescription. The struggle between will power and total abandon is real.

A high school friend posted a link to a 5k happening in less than a month not far from me, and I have seriously considered training for it, just in case my knee holds out. I still have time to register. Like I said, my brain says yes yes, but my knee says, no no!

Meanwhile, back in the hot tub, where we work tediously to perfect the chemicals of a chlorine-free system. Well guess what? Tara wants chlorine. Tara needs chlorine. Certain things in life just require chlorine. I do not want to go about smelling like a musty cellar, and there’s something about this system that’s leaving that impression all over me. I want to smell like chlorine. Trust me, I’ll sleep better at night.

And while we’re on the subject of hot tubbing… don’t ever, EVER try to reenact Sylvester’s Looney Toons’ geyser ride. You’ve been warned, people.

Todd had the audacity to ask me why there was a towel in the spider sanctuary. The spider sanctuary is actually our oversized bathtub in the master bath, which rarely gets used and I guess he was hinting that it’s a bit dusty/cobwebby in there.

I haven’t mentioned to him recently the plague of Lifesavers wrappers I keep finding – in the car, in the driveway, on the floor, on the bedside table, on the bathroom counter… shall I go on? This, while he tells me how dirty my car is, AS IF I have no idea how dirty it is. Really.

To use a recently overheard weirdest expression ever uddered, some days I feel angrier than a mad cow on a bad Monday. That might be an Amish expression, I’m not sure. But, I’ve left Facebook again for self-preservation. It’s faster, and less time consuming, to just remove myself, rather than “hide” every person (on both sides of the political divide, FYI) whose posts are currently bothering me. Recent revelations have taken me to a place inside that is wholly better for me and everyone around me. Let’s hope it lasts.

Miscellaneous tidbits:

There are 206 bones in the adult human body. Opac will say he has 207, because of a broken collar bone, though I believe this to be inaccurate as the break has fused back together.

To stop bleeding on the lip from a razor cut: besides applying pressure, apply ice to constrict blood vessels and slow bleeding. Also, apply chapstick or vaseline. Other pieces of advice include mouthwash (which has gotta burn like hell), or applying deodorant, in which the aluminum chloride can also constrict blood vessels. Add eye drops to that list of blood vessel contricting agents.

The Holiday Living 10.5 ft x 6.6 ft haunted house is $250. Conversely, the 9ft x 11ft dragon is $179. No word yet on the price of the giant metal chicken. I’ll get back to you. The price of my joy = priceless.

The aforementioned Looney Toons episode can be seen here : Sylvester, Tweety and the Geyser.

Current book I’m reading – is still Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins. I took a break from it to read 10 Days in a Madhouse by Nelly Bly, a fast and fascinating read (though surprisingly a lot less thrilling than Asylum) about the real conditions of institutions in the early 20th century, brought to life by the journalist who posed as a patient to get the real skinny on the inside. It was considered a game-changer for mental institutions, yet we all know that the horrors continued for decades and across the country.

Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough

People have asked me why I’m not writing much… this is [one reason] why. Life is busier than I expected it would be these last three months. And now that school has let out – and Veruca’s softball season has ended – summer workouts for football have begun.

The title of this post is kinda random, since I was listening to the radio when I picked Opac up from summer workouts and this was on. I love this song, I love to belt it out and had it turned up until he got into the car. I watched him walking out from the building, looking like somebody had dragged him across the field on his head. He got into the car and reached over to turn down the volume saying “I gotta turn this shit down, it’s not my victory song” as he did so.

And so it goes. The kids are full of it these days – wit and wisdom. Two days ago he went to practice early so he could watch and “help” with the freshmen workouts, because “freshman make a lot of mistakes (they can’t help it).”

Meanwhile back in Veruca-land, where the world has to be just so or hellfire will burn your house down, a conversation about Opac being a junior now and my melancholy at this revelation that he’ll be graduating in two years prompted V to comfort me with a whispered, “don’t worry, he’s not going to be able to support himself, so he’ll come back home.” Who ARE these children??

Unfortunately, the frequency with which they make me laugh since school let out 36 hours ago is not surpassing the frequency with which the urge to kill is rising. V is testing every limit I have established for my nerves and sanity. She’s pissed that she can’t leave for vacation with her dad until Friday; she’s pissed that Opac is threatening not to go on said vacation; she’s pissed that I won’t buy tater tots; she’s pissed I won’t get her another manicure before her vacation; she’s pissed that Opac won’t play Call of Duty with her; she’s pissed that she can’t go to work with me. Seriously.

Today was the first day of summer vacation. I took V for a repeat blood test she needed (and, for the first time ever, she went back without me), picked up my new glasses again (long story, that one), spent $17 on lunch at Wawa, and then drove O to Dick’s Sporting Goods for some crazy-ass device you wear on your face to basically add more stress to your heart and lungs so you can build endurance. I talked him out of it, by the way. Seriously.

And then we stopped at Macy’s because I still have credit and a small shred of dignity and thought I’d see if there were any decent swimsuits to be had. As usual, I was wrong. The selection was abysmal, because hello! June. And everything this year has this new trend called “cutouts,” which are not really for real women but for meth addicts and size 0 bulimic models. We literally circled the store and the department in less than 10 minutes and were back in the car.

Wait. Back up. Opac was in the car, with V screaming at him that he promised she would get the front seat and she’s freaking out because “my stuff” is in the front seat. And guess what – he threw her “stuff” over his shoulder into the backseat, which only incensed her more. He threw her stuff! Good lord, what is the world coming to?

This, on the first day of summer vacation.

And of course the pets are following suit. Sabra has finally been spayed, and she’s doing great, except for the running and jumping she’s not supposed to be doing. She’s managed to slip under the fence into the neighbor’s yard, and yesterday she chased the  squirrel who buried his nuts in my potted plants last fall, from one tree to another.

Oliver has been more vocal than ever, running into the kitchen during my 3 a.m. blood sugar checks for Veruca, meowing at me like he hasn’t eaten in 39 days. This morning, at least, he waited until I woke up for the day… I sat up and saw he had stuffed his Biggie Smalls body into an empty Eminem shoebox I’d left near the foot of the bed. I need a picture of this.

So meanwhile, we’re all on pins and needles while Opac decides whether he’s going on vaca with his dad. I feel compelled to protect his feelings and his privacy, so I can’t explain his reasoning behind it all. But I am surprisingly surprised that some things (or people) just never change. Seriously.

 

Random Thoughts – March 10th

It snowed this morning. First snowfall that actually laid, this year. It was 41 degrees and misty at 7 a.m., and twenty-five minutes later it was 37 degrees as I drove Veruca to school and chunks of wet snow started falling. There were 200 black birds in the tree next to the driveway, all shouting at each other in an agitated way, like a crowd queued outside the mall on Black Friday.

Todd has been on the phone for the last 2 ½ hours, shouting at some poor soul 8,000 miles away who isn’t very good at customer service. It seems somebody screwed up our account update and we can’t listen to Sirius XM on the Mac anymore. This was an accidental discovery occurring like a series of dominoes falling, after I tried to log on to continue listening to Howard interviewing Ed Sheeran when I got home from errands yesterday.

By the way, Ed’s girlfriend is an old classmate of his. Which is really cool. I love stories like that. He seems pretty secure and I enjoy the self-deprecating commentary. Makes him seem more accessible and down to earth.

While we’re talking romance, a friend who is a very big, extremely huge, incredibly lucky fan of Pat Monahan and Train, recently became engaged while on the cruise that Pat was singing on. He sang Marry Me and then broke from lyrics to introduce his friend – her fiancé – who had a very important question for her. Un-effing believable. And she SO did not know this was coming, and she got the proposal of a lifetime in front of a hundred people. I saw the video, which I’ve now watched exactly four times, and cried right along with her every. single. time. And I’m gonna do it again.

Veruca went to her first school dance yesterday. A boy asked her to go, and she turned him down. She was excited to go with her bestie, and didn’t want to be pinned down to some boy she doesn’t even like. That’s my girl! Of course, I felt a little pang at the thought of this poor kid who got up enough guts to ask and then to get turned down. L

Opac changed deodorants and now he’s fumigating us with Old Spice… Swagger. Which is really funny, because he comes into the kitchen the first morning and asked me how I like the smell of swagger. Actually, it’s quite nice. I’m a sucker for nice smelling men’s products, I will admit.

Speaking of scents, my mother-in-law asked me a while back if I like candles. Sure I like candles. She wanted to give me one she got somewhere that she didn’t care for. I asked her what it smelled like, and she said – I don’t know, what does Celebration smell like?

The things parents say. They’re getting sillier as they age. My dad was telling me a story about dining out with friends when he was suddenly hit with a wave of nausea and had to exit the table quickly. The details are unimportant. What matters is that he was trying to explain what he did with his napkin, which he called a … are you ready for this? … a lap towel.

I hate cat diarrhea. Yeah, I’ll just throw that in, right here. It wasn’t the best segue. And neither is this…

I’ve been going to McDonald’s too much. That’s what Todd told me, when I mentioned some recent observations. First, the cashier in the drive-thru had a giant hickey on her neck. On the drive-thru window side. You’d think she’d plan better and have him aim for the side furthest from the window. Then, I noticed the regular lady that hands you the food bags was sporting a very raw looking open wound on her face. I wondered who decided not to suggest a bandaid. Which we all know looks ridiculous, but what would you rather look at when you’re picking up your Large #7?

At this time tomorrow, I’ll be on the West Coast for the first time in 22 years. There will many tales I expect to gather on this excursion, if by no other means than pure observation of humans doing their thing. I can’t wait.

Call Me Honey

I don’t know how it happened. Somewhere along the way after I moved south, I became Honey. Everywhere I go, somebody calls me honey. Every time I’d enter the elementary school, which was often thanks to a T1 kid, the girls behind the desk would call me honey. Hi honey. What can I do for you, honey? Bye hon.

At first I was a bit offended, if only because – though I may not always look my age – I am at least as old as they are. After the third or fourth time, I realized it wasn’t that big a deal and felt familiar in a way I could appreciate. Like becoming part of a tribe.

But the tribe spread to other places. The doctor’s office. The pharmacy. The liquor store. (Not that I go there that often to be recognized as a regular or anything.) And then – the Asian-owned nail salon – hi honey, when I walk in the door. Honey, pick your color. Even the men who work there call me honey. Which, under any other circumstances, might be considered weird and/or offensive in our currently heated feminist world.

No biggie. I find it amusing. They don’t even know my name, I’m SURE of it. But I thought it was kinda nice and familiar, welcoming. Until I realized that everyone is Honey and, well, I kinda felt a little less special. Which might indict any of the above people for laziness since by calling everyone honey, they never have to remember any names. Brilliant!

Even Todd calls me Honey. Shocking, I know. But I’ve never been a big fan of such an old-fashioned endearment between married folks. Not wanting to crush his affectionate gestures, I just let it flow. And now, much to my dismay, I find myself calling him Honey.

And what’s worse? I caught myself calling my co-workers Honey and thought, Good God how did this happen to Me?? But we are a tribe at the restaurant. A motley mismatched tribe, but a tribe, nonetheless.

There’s something in that old-fashioned endearment. I shied away from it because it felt unnatural to use it. Perhaps I didn’t consider myself old enough to use it without it sounding false and condescending. I don’t consider myself old, like the original Honey who graced my life for only a short time.

The summer of 1989, I took a job as an ancillary aide at a nursing home. Among the many colorful characters who graced those halls (which could comprise a whole other post), was a woman in her 80s we called Honey. We all called her Honey, because it’s what she called all of us. Constantly. I didn’t know then that she was in the early stages of dementia, though it should’ve been obvious after she told me one afternoon that she was a having a baby. Honey was having a baby!

So, now I’m in my late 40s, thinking about how I was Tara, and somebody’s babe, baby girl (I’d kill to hear that again), Miss Tara, and then Mommy, which evolved to Mom, to Todd’s Honey, and now to the public at large – just, Honey. No one calls me Mrs. anything. Most likely because hardly anyone can pronounce it correctly anyway. There are also a handful of nicknames that I won’t mention here. Even Veruca calls me Honey, which is incredibly annoying and sort of unintentionally condescending.

I briefly considered renaming the blog The Honey Chronicles. But that seems to imply a different genre of blogging, and would leave a trail of disappointed visitors in its wake. Nothing wrong with that genre, but it’s not where this Honey’s blog is going.