Personal Space

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Two posts ago I mentioned that minor thing called Personal Space. We all need it. We are occasionally violated. We sometimes never get it. Sometimes we get too much.

In college this weird thing happened where people started hugging each other. Not that we didn’t do that before, but it seemed like a matter of greeting that became habit. I surmised in a writing assignment once that we, as a collective whole, needed that platonic expression of inclusion and even love because we were missing it from home.

A memory sticks out for me, of sitting on the bleachers at a football game surrounded by friends, leaning back into a guy friend seated behind me. It was easy and comfortable, and secure. I felt that sense of affection for him and his for me, though it would never blossom beyond friendship. Whether his intention was different from mine we’ll never know, but I valued his friendship more than the desire to have a boyfriend.

I think we all know the prevalence of the hookup and plenty of other shenanigans. I shied away from those situations because I always preferred a real relationship. I think I gave off the vibe too, because it was a rare occasion when a guy would cross the boundaries of my personal space without invitation.

Friendships are different. I was always open to hugs and today now more than ever, everybody hugs. It’s a standard that appears to be here to stay, so ya’ll best get on board. Unless you’re not a hugger, which is perfectly fine. I have a few friends who aren’t, and I get the need for boundaries. Intuition is also a powerful tool – if one pays attention to others’ cues. I don’t like hugs, or – we hardly know each other, or – my head only reaches your belly button and that’s just plain awkward.

In relationships, as I mentioned – too much affection was the kiss of death. Even my ex, who wrapped his arms around me at a bar the first time we went out – which, by the way, should have been a great big red flag – I felt like he was claiming me and it pissed me off.

What is between Todd and me is a perfect balance of love and affection, personal space, and PDA. We still hold hands in public, walking into the store or out to a restaurant. While our lives seem to have become busier and we have less down time together, perhaps there is a greater need right now to close the gap between us. Personal space is so abundant now as to require a little more violation. And no, I’m not talking about sex, you dirty-minded little trolls.

Meanwhile, Veruca is a master of violation. She has always been the child who couldn’t get enough of me, and at this age I find myself tensing up the more she invades my space. She will hug and squeeze me – I swear, bruising my face – she talks to me like I’m her child. I’ve been told this is a form of possession, or manipulation, or both. So, we continue to work on the boundaries, even as she is maturing and beginning to pull away.

And then her very own personal lesson came along this year. A new girl – we’ll call her Missy – latched on to her on the first day, called V her BFF, and won’t leave her alone. She is in every. Single. One. Of her classes. AND lunch. V has only gym class with her bestie since 3rd grade, so lunch is the prime time to catch up. Unfortunately, Missy is dominating V’s time and conversation and she is pissed. Missy also has this other endearing habit of poking V.

My solicited advice was to establish physical boundaries first. Tell Missy not to poke you. Tell her she’s welcome to sit with you and Bestie at lunch, but explain that this is also important time that you both look forward to catching up. V tells me that even Bestie is annoyed, which is kinda funny because I can’t picture sweet little demure Bestie getting pissed off. What little I know…

For what it’s worth, I think it’s gotten a bit better. I did try to encourage V to see behind Missy’s motivations – that she’s the new girl and needed to feel like she belonged, and that she saw V as a kind face. That perhaps V’s job was to help her get acclimated and meet other friends to smother hang out with too. It’s a testament to V’s [public] character that a stranger saw her as an ally.

All in all, karma for V became a teaching moment for me. And the revelation that perhaps the apple doesn’t fall that far from the tree.

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Todd and I Do It Again

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The truth is, we do it every year. Sometimes several times a year.

We went on vacation, and returned to Ocean City, Maryland a couple of weeks ago. We rolled in late afternoon on a Monday, checked into our 7th floor room (remember this detail – it figures in later) at last year’s hotel which – by the way – is nothing special but the rooms are upgraded and clean and affordable. We got the last parking spot under cover and left the car there until the day we checked out.

We met my longtime friend Holly and her husband for dinner on the boardwalk. Afterward we walked the boardwalk a short distance to the Old Time Photo place, where Holly and I recreated the Flashback photo we had done in Wildwood several decades ago.

Holly and I giggled through the entire thing, from breath-stealing corsets to our middle-aged climb up to the top of the bar (we were saloon girls), to the stiff posture we had to hold while they snapped photos. It was a LOT easier when we were 15. The staff was terrific, referring to the original often to get it exactly right, and never missed a beat with helping us old broads up and down from the bar top.

We grabbed one of the last tables outside at Shenanigans for dinner. The evening weather was perfect. I had a margarita and then a Dogfish 60, which was all I needed. I’m not much for drinking these days. We were back in the room by 11, with me falling asleep on Todd’s shoulder as we watched Merlin on Netflix. So this is what middle-age looks like. Unencumbered by little children, we’re still asleep before midnight.

Tuesday

We decided to walk to breakfast at Dumser’s Dairyland, which was about a mile walk. The omelets are killer. I had my favorite, a spinach, mushroom, and feta omelet and Todd had a meat-filled omelet. Home fries were perfect and toast soaked in butter – a cardiac patient’s delight – and I’m not sorry. Dumser’s has been around since 1939 and still retains the charm of yesteryear.

We stopped at Sunsations – a chain-mecca of all things beachy – on the walk back to buy sunscreen and a hat for me, since all the errands and leisurely time spent before we drove down didn’t afford me a memory for necessities. I also forgot soap (which Todd had thankfully packed) and a razor, so I’m currently growing leg hair until I can get to a CVS.

Todd bought me a new gel seat for my bike and installed it before we came down, hoping it would ease the pain of sitting down after a long ride. Well, he was partially right. More on that later.

We took the bikes out and rode down to the boardwalk at 1st Street – our friend Jonathan told us to grab a slice and a beer at Tony’s Pizza for him. The humidity and the sun were tough on the ride, and we both wore the wrong shirts, and so arrived soaked to the skin in sweat. I don’t mind sweat when I’m working out, but it’s a whole ‘nother story when I’m sitting down on a vinyl seat in a restaurant.

The pizza slices were old (translation: not fresh) and neither of us wanted a beer at this point (sorry Jonathan). I had a birch beer instead – a childhood favorite – which was ice-cold and delicious, and we split a Caesar salad. I’ve never had a Caesar salad that was covered in bacon bits and onions, but it was good, so whatever. Our waitress, who was pretty much par for the course in this overcrowded beach town, disappeared for long periods of time and at the end we waited and waited for her to return just so we could ask for a check. It seems unfortunate somehow, but every experience we have either rules out a repeat visit, or gets added to the favorites list.

We walked the boards and stopped in a shop to buy a couple of dry shirts. Todd bought a tank and changed on the boardwalk, because he’s a guy and can do that. I chose not to change – a) because there was nowhere to change and I’m not getting arrested at 48 and b) I knew I’d just soak through that one too.

On the ride back we stopped at Bull on the Beach for a beer. It was early enough that there were several open seats at the rectangular bar. The a/c felt divine and I made my way to the restroom intending to change my shirt. I peeled it off and then realized, duh, my bra was soaked too. And then it dawned on me that the bra would just make wet circles on the dry t-shirt, which is way worse than just sitting in a wet t-shirt, and I couldn’t exactly take my bra off because no one wants to see that. Well, maybe the group of middle-aged men doing shots on the other side of the bar, but my husband isn’t so far gone from his tough guy days so – bad idea. So I had to put that wet shirt back on. I looked around for one of those air dryers, because I was seriously going to try to dry myself somewhat (hey – Madonna did it), but this place doesn’t have those.

Back at the bar I ordered an IPA – it seems you’re not getting too many craft choices anywhere and so I had a pint of Dogfish to Todd’s Guinness – and Todd ordered wings, which were really good. The bartenders were really friendly – which was a big plus because many of the patrons seemed like regulars and we weren’t treated any differently.

Dinner was planned later for Mackey’s, strategically around sunset, and I insisted we wait for an outside, on the water, table and we weren’t disappointed. We got a front row table to the sunset which, although cloudy and not as spectacular as sunsets past, was still beautiful and tranquil even with children playing in the water nearby.

They always play God Bless America at sunset, and this year it seemed more poignant than ever.

 

Cabo San Lucas – The End

Chapter 3

January 19, 1991  Sábado

My baja California trip is over. I’m sitting now in the Phoenix airport, sometime around 5 p.m. Only SEVEN hours until I board my next flight – to Philadelphia. Customs went okay – not quite as bad as Greece was. I thought I’d found the perfect spot to plant myself – game room, snack bar, lounge, Haagan Daas, gift shop – until the snack bar closed. At five o’clock. Mom would stow her bags and venture out into Phoenix. I thought about it for a split second, but I’m way too hungover.

I was awakened this morning at the ungodly hour of 7:30, from another bizarre dream, by the ever crowing rooster, a pesky mosquito that tried to fly up my nose, and a need for the bathroom. A couple of old Mexican women came by later, selling Bibles door to door. I don’t know if the Bibles are in English though.

Yesterday Mom and I went shopping and I bought a silver bracelet and a pair of earrings. We ate lunch afterward at the Giggling Marlin, which is probably my favorite place. Mom ordered a Mexican coffee, and when I took a sip something flew up the straw and into my mouth. A fucking fly!! She said I went white, and both she and the waitress had a big laugh at my expense for swallowing a “mosca!” It was NOT funny.

We walked around town a bit and stopped at the Rio Grill. We were having a good time, drinking cerveza (lots of cerveza), a live band started to play, and we ended up making new friends. Kelly, about my age, was a tall, model-like blonde who was super nice.  John was a 40-ish retired boatman from Southern Cal who really liked mom a lot. He introduced me to Eric, 24 and very very cute, who he himself had just met that day. Eric told me he was from Montreal, traveling around.

The four of us decided to go to Squid Roe to party some more. John was a trip! Eric and I danced forever, cervezas in hand. John said he’d introduce me to Tico Torres, who was there, though it never happened. Finally left there sometime around 3 and, suddenly hungry, mom and I bought these killer hamburgers from a food vendor right outside the bar. I tallied my drinks and it amounted to about a half-case of beer.

Which is why I’m sitting in the Phoenix airport now, horribly hung over and trembling from dehydration, sporting shorts, a minor tan, and my motorcycle jacket and wishing I didn’t have over 6 hours left until I can board some plane that will only take me as far as Philly. Then I have to figure out how to get to 30th Street Station before dawn to catch the train that will take me home to New York. I’ll finally be home, just 18 hours from now.

It was a great trip though. Anything but a tourist trap, it was charming in its simplicity and the lack of obnoxious crowds. Cabo is the antithesis of Cancun, the only other Mexico destination I have to compare it with. It’s like night and day. They’re building this enormous luxury hotel on Boulevard Marina (the main street running through town), currently just a shell, and it makes me wonder how these high rise hotels will change this sleepy little town.

Cabo San Lucas – Chapter 3

Chapter 2

January 14, 1991 Lunes

Sitting here at Squid Roe – excellent margaritas!! No buzz, but feeling like a headache is brewing. It’s from being in the sunshine too long. The Americans that come to Cabo are a strange crew. This sleepy little town seems like a magnet for peculiar people who are both friendly and also seem like they’re running away from real life. The pretty waitress here is primping herself openly at the mirror on the wall.

*****

Another sunny Mexico day slips into chilly darkness. It’s so peaceful here in Cabo, day and night, with the exception of the infamous barking perros. Don’t they ever get tired? The roosters don’t bother me. The mosquitos have become utter annoyance; they are everywhere in flight and twice the size as the breed at home. I’ve killed dozens already tonight while reading Savage Ecstasy, a book from the house’s library.

This book is so poorly written; however, the plot is fascinating and has stolen my attention for several hours. The love scenes are pathetic. I’m know I’ve dreamt up steamier scenes than these. I hate romance novels. Won’t be caught dead with one back in New York.

*****

January 15, 1991 Martes

At Las Palmas restaurant, on Playa Médano. 70s music here. I like the music at Squid Roe better. There’s no one interesting enough to watch. I have to be one of the whitest gringos in this place. Mom is a week ahead of me with her tan, having come a full week before I got here.

We just had lunch and I’m feeling very content sitting here with my trashy novel and my Corona. Such a cliché, I am.

This is definitely a bad place to come if you’re single. Night Fever is playing now and I keep half expecting some John Travolta lookalike to come out of nowhere and hit the floor. The locals really love their American music. Vogue is on regular rotation just about everywhere.

We are waiting for the car – it seems Gloria (the caretaker of the house) spoke to el mecánico, Hector, who said he’d retrieve the car from San José del Cabo and also offered to drop us here at the beach for a few hours. We thought he mumbled something about coming back in three hours with the Datsun. Who knows – in a place where everything is mañana?? I suggested we have been here longer, seeing as we had lunch after baking in the sun and, noting its position over Cabo now, I would venture that it must be almost four and way longer than three hours. We settled for another seat on the patio at the restaurant, ordered dos lemonellas and pondered our predicament. We decided to call it a day and headed home in a taxi – Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Mexico-style.

*****

Miércoles

The days are slipping by so quickly, and yet so slowly. Everything is in slow motion here and you find yourself getting sucked into it before you even realize it happened. Mom just asked me if I’m sure I don’t want to go to the beach today, and to tell the truth I don’t really care one way or the other. I just find myself answering, well… whatever, sighing heavily as if even the effort of a response is too much. I just dropped two postcards on the floor and I don’t even feel like picking them up.

Gloria came in this morning to tell us that Pago Pago is aquí. Pago Pago, the lean, mean, white piece-of-shit machine is back. One of the many guests of our villa named the car Pago Pago, which is auditorily hilarious but not so much in translation. I wonder if we’ll still need to carry several jugs of water with us whenever we take the car out?

*****

Jueves

Saddam Hussein’s deadline came and went, and of course he’s doing his own thing and the U.S. has begun minor fire. We watched the President’s address yesterday on the TV at Señor Sushi. Great drinks! Yummy Piña Coladas and 2-for-1 cervezas at Happy Hour.

We had dinner last night at El Coral – lobster for $12 but the food wasn’t very good and there were billions of moscas on the table, thus ruining my appetite. Everywhere are open air establishments, and flies just come with the territory.

We got an early start today – mailed our postcards, had lunch at the Giggling Marlin. Always good, but lethal margaritas. My non-alcoholic drink of choice here is lemonella. Gotta keep my wits about me during the daylight hours, I think.

Now we’re back on la playa by Las Palmas, a little windy today and a bit overcast. The sun is warm on the skin. I have my Walkman on – the only tape I brought with me is Madonna. This is where I long to be, la isla bonita…

Piña coladas, contrary to their sweetness, inspired a lovely violent dream last night. I was with José and his very large family and we left without him – he was running after us so we drove slowly and then lost him around a corner. When he came into view again, I saw two men beating him with pipes, so I’m screaming for us to go back for him. I got out of the car and he’s unconscious and I was afraid he was dead, but then he came to.

This really friendly dog decided to make me his number one amiga on the beach – he’d just come out of the ocean, ran over and rolled around on my towel, much to my surprise and horror. Mom laughed like a loon and suddenly I got hysterical and the commotion attracted a crowd of onlookers – mostly the Mexican salesmen who troll the beach selling shit that’s “almost free.”

Later…

We had dinner tonight at Señor Sushi – and consumed way too much. Strawberry daiquiris, cerveza, Caesar salad, Teriyaki chicken, Lobster, Mexican coffee, Kahlua flan, Kahlua and cream, brandy, …. TOO much. We were serenaded by a man with a guitar, who looked very much like José. (Yes, being in Mexico is like being in a constant state of deja vú.) He had no idea how funny it was, and there was just no way to explain my amusement. The waiter asked me to go dancing after 11:30 tonight. What is it with me and waiters?

 

 

 

The Weekend, Dreams, and Butthurt

I woke this morning from a terrible dream that involved the kids and my ex and Todd was in there somewhere too but incongruously juxtaposed with the ex, and there was this weird camp/event/gathering with strangers (who were friends in the dream but who I’ve never seen before in my life). We were having dinner at the friends’ apartment and there was this keg of red champagne that exploded like dynamite and somehow I was to blame because I’d partially opened it by mistake and then everyone there was angry with me. I tried to wipe everything down and suddenly was fighting with my ex, or maybe it was Todd, and crying about the fact that I was trying my best to clean up the blood-like spatter of this red champagne that made the house look like a crime scene. And then I left there for some marketplace filled with outdoor shops and flea markets,  there was a flood and I was floating along the rapids with my shopping cart, worried about losing the ibuprofen I’d just purchased for Opac.

I know what you’re thinking. I don’t do drugs.

Why me? Why do I have to have these fucked up catastrophic dreams where I’m either crying or running away from a serial killer? Too much binge-watching of Murdock Mysteries??

Why can’t I have dreams about swashbuckling pirates like my friend – who, incidentally, is a very physical dreamer and has frightened more people awake with her very loud vocals and thrashing about? It seems infinitely more fun than being chased by a whackjob who wants to kill me.

Sleep is overrated, apparently. The dog decided that she absolutely could not wait until morning to go out on the last night I could actually sleep through the night before V came home, and woke me up at 1:40 a.m. When I actually want to sleep – I can’t. Otherwise, I’m falling asleep on the couch at 8:30-9:00 every night because my eyes just can’t take it anymore. Poor Todd. I wasn’t much fun on Saturday night.

And speaking of sleep, the cat continues to sleep on the dining room table such that I’ve taken the tablecloth off, leaving the ugly vinyl padding exposed and I don’t give a shit. I’m so over de-fuzzing the tablecloth every night so we can eat dinner there. He knows he’s not supposed to be there, and how do I know this? Because he knows the sound of me picking up the water gun, and also because the minute he hears me down the hall he’s jumping off. I guess he thinks he’s fooled me, but it hasn’t occurred to him that I can hear the sound of elephant paws hitting the floor.

I noticed that he no longer sleeps with us when the kids are away, and he no longer sleeps with V either. I thought maybe something was amiss, especially since he doesn’t jump up on the couch next to me much lately either. But this morning it occurred to me that it’s too hot, and then it occurred to me that he only sleeps with us when it’s cold and NOT because he loves any of us, so in reality he is selfish and only out for himself. Which is why he doesn’t give a f@#% about the rules. YET, I continue to love him.

But not as much as I love Todd and IPA, which is why I woke up Sunday morning prepared for butthurt and to make it up to him for falling asleep so early the night before. We got up and cycled a 13.6-mile circle around our town which was exhilarating and satisfying and only momentarily embarrassing when our two lumps on bicycles were passed by a cycling club of about 8 sleekly-clad riders who knew the proper alerts to give me as they approached from behind. At least they were kind and asked, how are you this morning, though it should’ve been painfully obvious.

We got home and Todd took to mowing the lawn, and then I took over the push mower for the first time ever which I know must come as shock. I’ve never mowed a lawn in my life. I once rode a tractor in my old life, but only for about 2 minutes because I panicked when I let go the brake and the damn thing took off like a train. (Well, not really, but it was really scary when I forgot how to make it stop.) So, I can now check off another item from my bucket list. Not that it was on there. I find that it’s easier to add things to the bucket list after I’ve done them.

We ended up checking out a local place on the water we hadn’t been to yet, which turned out to be the very same vacant, for-sale property we’d checked out four years ago and talked to my mom about opening a restaurant in. Obviously that never happened, and – excuse my French – this place is now a fucking gold mine. And loud. But we enjoyed sitting outside on the covered deck, enjoying IPA and Crabby Mac n Cheese and loaded nachos, all of which I think were well-earned after the morning we had.

Lessons learned – don’t ever hesitate on a reasonably good idea. Although, I wouldn’t want the headache of a place like that, between the hell of staffing and security, not to mention the liability associated with its proximity to the water. I’m so over the restaurant business anyway, even as Todd keeps returning with these fantasies of owning a very lucrative, if not seasonal, one. Personally, I love the idea of a Monday through Friday, 9 to 5 situation, where somebody else is the boss and I only have to show up and do my job right. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with lower expectations. Well, except when you just want to sit down without pain.

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.

 

Life After Midnight

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Home from work at 1:36 a.m. and enjoying a little leftover Ferrari-Carano Siena Red, which is delicious by the way, while the kitty snores behind me and everyone else sleeps. It sucks working Saturday nights, if only because I come home and Todd is sound asleep at 1 a.m. because he rises so early.

Veruca is with her dad this weekend, as she is most weekends, since we changed our custody agreement. Meanwhile, Opac chooses whether he stays home on “my weekends” or goes to his dad’s. This weekend he’s home. Because he has a football day planned with his pack tomorrow.

Anyway, I checked in on him when I got home, and woke him up by accident. Oh well. Todd barely moved when I entered our bedroom, so I figured I’d sit out in my space and have some wine and write nonsense. We’re having breakfast with mom-and-dad-Todd, at what amounts to the crack of dawn after a work night for me but not for the rest of the world, tomorrow morning.

The pets are SO excited when I get home from work, they follow me into the darkened bedroom where Todd slumbers and where I try to peacefully unzip my boots, and I wonder if anyone remembered to feed them tonight while I was gone. Which is anybody’s guess, since Todd is really good about that and yet the pets will lend me the impression that Oh My God no one has fed us since you left 16 hours ago! And then of course I have to hand out the treats and fill up their bowls and they gratefully accept it all like they have been waiting forever.

The remnants of tonight’s dinner appear to be a crockpot full of vegetarian chili (Todd’s), and two cold slices of pepperoni pizza. By the way, cold pepperoni pizza goes well with the aforementioned wine.

I’m not tired yet. I should be, but I’m not tired. It’s customary to have A drink after work – years ago we’d all sit around the bar after closing and drink together. Those days are long past. I can’t drink because I have an hour’s drive home. I fixed the last-girl-standing a martini, and Stevie B got a Long Island Iced Tea that was too wicked even for him. I might’ve been offended, but I accidentally poured tequila in my friend’s martini (she wanted vodka) and so… I thought, hey! Let’s make Stevie B a LIIT. Still, it had just enough too much tequila to burn the hair off his chest, if he had any. Not that I’d know if he has hair on his chest, just sayin’.

Anyway, I drove myself home in the Mustang – which is always a joy late at night because it’s stick and there’s no one on the highway that late so I can really fly – and it helps keep me awake. I look forward to having a drink when I get home, which would be a lot more fun if someone else was awake with me (well, except for Opac, which would be completely inappropriate). And before someone says it’s bad to drink alone, I say it’s actually better, since no one is there to tell you you’ve had enough, or witness the tomfoolery that follows half a bottle of wine… except two cats and a dog you’re talking to. Which, technically, means I’m not drinking alone. Or alone drinking. And they listen really well, always agree with me, and never argue about politics. Best drinking companions, ever.

 

 

 

Melancholy

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I went to Walmart yesterday with Opac. He was adamant about stocking up on his favorite hair glue, so much so that he was spazzing out because I didn’t want to go since my brother was over and Veruca is overdue for a haircut and I wanted to kill two birds with one stone (hairdresser is in the same shopping center). And Veruca wanted to stay home with her frizzled hair with Uncle Matt and play video games.

Side note: this is an interesting stage – this age 11-going-on-12 stage. She’s obsessed with the clothes she’s wearing, and little else. She ransacks her room for clothes every morning, and right now every drawer is open on her dresser, and clothes are spilling out of them onto the floor. The ones that have escaped the dresser are covering the floor like measles on a sick kid. She obsesses over the leggings and t-shirts/sweatshirts she wears every single day – nevermind all the nice stuff I got her from Justice – but never remembers to brush her teeth. And her hair? Her hair makes me nuts. It’s tough keeping quiet, yet I know there are bigger problems worth arguing over, like the snacking without bolusing that continues like a blister on my heel. And I do know, thank you very much, that this will all shift in some blindsided way and suddenly the raging hormones will render her certifiably irrational.

Meanwhile, back to Opac. It’s always nice when we get one-on-one time, even if it’s simple like going out to eat or a trip to the store. He will always say he’s glad when it’s just the two of us. We shopped together. It was nice. He shares things with me. Although initially I was reluctant to go, I later realized it was something he needed. An old friend of his from middle school, whom he hadn’t seen in over 2 years, was killed in a car accident yesterday morning. The news spread through the high school like fire; he told me there were people crying everywhere. One of his good friends, was this kid’s best friend. He said it was weird. He feels weird, not sure how to feel at all. We talked about it. About my own experiences with this – how it’s difficult to understand why something like this happens, and what I believe is at work spiritually, behind it. He swiped at his eyes once or twice.

I’ve fallen into that delicate place, the “life is a tragedy for those who feel” part of Shakespeare’s prolific words, and I was already feeling emotional, as I always do, on my Nana’s birthday. I can’t explain what I feel, though I often speak of her with love and honor. My kids know who she is, even if they don’t remember anymore. I’d give almost anything to talk to her today. If even just one more time.

The news of this young kid dying struck me senseless, left me weeping in the car this morning after I dropped V off at school, as I literally felt the physical pain those parents are feeling. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare. For a moment I felt the inside of their hearts, and I felt sick. I don’t know how one goes on living after such a loss. I don’t know that I could. I call myself strong, I think many people see me that way, but on the inside is a weakness, a compassion or emotion for tragedy that I must consciously block out sometimes, for nothing less than mental survival. Please Father, don’t take my children. I will die.

I was also reminded of another friend of his, when he mentioned that even “John” had tears in his eyes, because about a year ago “John’s” mother died a horrific and tragic death that left me crying for days. She suffered from some form of mental illness, and believed to not be getting the proper care and support she needed. She told John one night where all the important documents were kept in the house, and told him to go upstairs to bed and not to come back down, no matter what. What followed is a police account of what happened. They were called to the darkened home with reports of an intruder, only to break in and find her seated in a chair in the dark holding what appeared to be a gun. She ignored repeated requests to put down the weapon, and when she raised it, they fired on her, killing her. The sorrow I felt for John was overwhelming. How does a 15-year-old boy recover from that?

The sadness was overwhelming, not because I knew them, but because his was a familiar face and I just wanted to reach out to him. And because I remember seeing him and his mother in the grocery store, weeks before, and I attempted to smile at her to be friendly but she never once looked at me. And in retrospect, I can’t help but wonder if she had – would it have made a difference in her day? In the future?

Of course I’m not that powerful. But the takeaway is, it’s always better to offer a friendly smile to anyone – because we’re all fighting battles that are sometimes less obvious than a grumpy face. If you can turn one person’s day around with a simple gesture, would you do it?

Meanwhile, my other grandmother, a life-long smoker and drinker, is approaching her 92nd birthday. She has type 2 diabetes, and now takes insulin to manage her blood sugar levels. She told my mom the other day, she doesn’t know why she’s still here. She has body failings, that upset her and add to her overall depression. My mom reminded me that the body as it ages is only going in one direction… that improvements, while small, will ultimately only hold up until they don’t. The body, at 92, is slowly deteriorating, and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it. That revelation made me sad too. What must it feel like to be where she is? Will I approach it with today’s half of Shakespeare’s quote, as my mommom does, or will I approach it with Tara’s usual MO – the other half that says, that “life is a comedy for those who think”??

 

 

 

My Other Kids

The dog and cat are standing in the kitchen staring at me as I cook. They do this now. They stand side by side waiting for me, depending on where I am and the time of day. On weekends it’s by my side of the bed. Or outside the bathroom door. My kids are grown enough, so now I have pets who follow me to the bathroom and make messes with their food or refuse to eat it at all, and beg for treats 24/7.

Sabra will ask to go outside and will literally turn back to the door, waiting to be let back in and when you do, she has the audacity to wait for a treat. And when she gets one – because, spoiled – the cat comes over and waits for one too. I kid you not.

Oliver is very vocal about breakfast. He wants it NOW. The minute my feet hit the floor at 6 a.m. he’s standing there in the doorway like the ghost of breakfast past. He runs just an inch in front of my feet, so that I step on him in my early morning before-coffee clumsiness, and so I feel guilty for stepping on him. He will meow at me loudly until I feed him, no matter that I am holding the Fancy Feast in my hand with a fork already, and then when I crouch down to put it in the bowl he comes up under me and blocks my view. And meows. Loudly.

But that’s not all. He not only gets a small serving of canned food, he also gets a small serving of dry food too. And he will walk over to the pantry door where it is stored and sit down, alternately staring at the door and looking over his shoulder at me. I get it. He’s hungry.

Sabra will stand in the hall around the corner trying to be inconspicuous. She stands just behind the wall, so that she appears to be spying on me. Other times she’s more obvious, like just inside the kitchen, or by her bed in the living room, or looking out from under the dining room table. She just stands there, and stares at me.

It’s kinda creepy, actually. I can feel their eyes on me. Always watching. Sometimes Oliver follows me to the rec room, like a prison guard assuring that I won’t escape these walls unnoticed. He rarely openly monitors the litter box maintenance, but I know for a fact that he’s watching from somewhere because I no sooner leave the vicinity and he’s in that box, adding his own special brand of air freshener to the atmosphere.

It’s almost funny how much more demanding he is, than the dog, and yet – is the epitome of feline. Demanding, selfish, indifferent, seasoned with an occasional cuddle on the couch… on HIS terms, of course.

Now that the fire place is officially working, he maintains a circle of space in front of it. It’s not on right now, and he just stood on the edge of the hearth and pawed at the screen. Because, yes – the fire is for him.

We are contemplating a new addition to the household, but timing is everything and I keep having second thoughts; however, Todd and I made a deal whereby I get what I want, when he gets what he wants. So far, the score is Todd: 1, Tara: 0.

Stay tuned.

giphy-12

Hello?! Over here!

 

A Day in PA

It was a great bookend to a very bizarre weekend that involved a new car and a fire, both of which I am not authorized to discuss publicly. Not to mention a shocking Superbowl win for the Patriots.

My mom had oral surgery yesterday morning and everyone knows you need a driver for that kind of stuff and as the daughter it’s my job to get her there. And take pictures.

So after a series of extremely fucked up dreams I fell into after each blood sugar check, all of which clearly indicate a very disturbed subconscious – including being detained at the airport because I was carrying pump supplies which weren’t authorized and another dream about being summoned by a mean spirit who lives in the restaurant who meant to harm me – I got two kids off to school without missing any busses and twenty minutes later I was on my way to PA.

Anyway, the drive was mostly uneventful, at least until I got to a major intersection where my right turn lane had the green arrow and I was following the cars in front of me into that turn when all of a sudden, this car from the other side of the highway does a complete U-turn right into me. Slammed the brakes, she slammed the brakes, and I could literally see the whites of her eyes while I lost my shit through my closed window.

Fact: U-turns are ILLEGAL in Pennsylvania. I know this because – born and raised – and lived 44 years (minus 3 in New York) in Pennsylvania. Had I not been on a tight timetable, I might have let her hit me. Just because I’m crazy enough to teach the little bitch a lesson in driving safety and another little something called, The Law.

So Mom goes to the oral surgeon. Except I’m driving and she keeps telling me where to go like I haven’t grown up in this town and don’t know my way around, and then she doesn’t even know where his office is, except I do because I’ve already been there with Opac. She gets out of the car and notes the concrete steps she’ll have to navigate on the way out when she’s all loopy. I told her I’d move the damn car after she went in. No, it’s okay, she said. I give her a pass, since she’s been up for 3 hours and hasn’t had coffee yet and I know how that feels.

So the procedure took about an hour or so and then she was in recovery and they come get me. I know many people have been there with their parents and/or have lost parents, but I have been doubly blessed to have both of mine and they’re healthy, so my eyes watered when I saw her. She was still coming out of the anesthesia so she was sleepy-eyed and her right cheek was bulging with gauze. She looked over at me and I held up my phone and, say cheese! Her eyes narrowed and I told her I was just kidding, because I was.

She was lucid enough to talk, and she was saying stuff to me I couldn’t understand – one, because I’m hard of hearing, and two, because her mouth is stuffed with gauze and so all I hear is wuh wuh wuh wuh ah buh wuh unh huh. And I’m pissed, because she is still in recovery and maybe I’m missing some really good shit here. But eventually she told me to go ahead and take the pic, and she posed with the bulging gauzed-out cheek and her eyes shut and her tongue hanging out the side of her mouth. We sent it to a friend and I captioned it, they said it’ll be another 2o minutes or so until she can get her tongue back in her mouth. And I started laughing so hard I was crying, and then Mom started sniggling and it was hard because she couldn’t feel the right side of her face which was even funnier.

We eventually got the all-clear and she got her exit papers. We made a drug run to CVS where she made new friends as she waited with this giant ice pack pressed to her cheek, and I repressed my desire to blurt out that she was in a bar brawl, and then I took her home and made my way back to Maryland. But I can’t do this without passing through part of my old hometown, which is full of wonder and excitement that only the fully initiated can appreciate. I passed a woman standing on the side of the street in a camouflage bathrobe and flip flops, a winter hat with the ball on top that was bright blue with white snowflakes on it and a scarf wrapped around her face so only her eyes were visible. She was pacing back and forth. This is Pottstown at its finest, folks. I just can’t make this shit up.

I made it back home with 10 minutes to spare before the kids got there…by some miracle after being cut off, tailgated, and narrowly avoiding what should have been a 10-car pile-up on Route 100 in Lionville (for those who know) when this woman threw on her right turn signal and just merged without ever looking. Thank God for the car in front of me and their quick reflexes, because otherwise we were all going down.

Meanwhile, back in Maryland…

Ever have one of those days where you’re sure the universe is trying to tell you something? I think yesterday was that day. Besides the rainy day and the PA drivers living up to their stellar reputation for dangerous driving, I rushed home to find our garage door open – which has done so spontaneously now 3 times and so it’s been disconnected. I was gone all day, and I have no idea when it opened.

Then the kids descended on the house with their own level of chaos, ransacking the kitchen and scaring the dog and the cat, whose tail puffed out like a deployed airbag. And then they’re arguing with each other, which seems impossible when they’ve been apart for 8 hours. And then I get the news that the toilet is clogged again. And no one knows how it happened.

Rush hour here looks like: hurry up and make dinner, feed the pets, drag the kids out of their bedrooms where they’re both practically asleep, clean up dinner and dishes, process two loads of laundry, unclog a toilet and finish the vacuuming started by Veruca, who was ordered to clean up her mess under the counter. Fruity Pebbles are the annoying glitter of the cereal world.

How did it end? On the couch with V – watching old episodes of X-Files. Todd finally rolled in around 10 and I might have been awake for a whole 20 minutes after.