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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

Honoring Friends

With all the negativity circulating social media and most often in my morning news feed, I made a couple of self-preservation decisions. One was to start my morning with coffee and my journal. In other words, I don’t start my day reading the stuff that gets my blood pumping. I’m journaling “almost” regularly now, like I used to, since 1987. The current journal’s (numbered #38) opening date is August 23, 2013. That’s over three years ago! Which at one time would  have been unheard of.

I’ve also begun writing what I’ll call a “long piece,” because I’m not ready to call it a novel yet. So far, I have 15 pages and 7500 words. Which doesn’t sound like much, but it’s an accomplishment for me to actually DO it. I have so many ideas that I bounce back and forth between this one and that – which do I want to write? So I can now say I’m committed to writing this one.

I met the sweetest woman at the restaurant about a month ago who told me she keeps a Gratitude journal. Every day she writes in this journal, about something she is grateful for. I thought, what a wonderful idea! So positive, so enlightening, so powerful. We ALL need more of this, especially now. I decided that I wanted to keep one too, but couldn’t decide whether to include it in my current journal or keep a separate one just for gratitude, and then I thought that perhaps there would be times they’d overlap and then it would be like writing twice, and who has time for that? Plus, I could be in danger of creating my own version of the Golden Notebook and I already have enough anxiety.

Anyway, back to social media. I started what I’m calling an Honoring Friends Initiative. Every day I choose a friend to honor. So, in essence, it’s very much a gratitude-type of journal, only it’s public.

I’m 8 days into what I limited to a 30-day initiative. It’s been easy so far, with the exception of locating a suitable photo with both of us in it. I clarified that it was random, so that the order in which I introduced each of them wasn’t a declaration of their order of importance to me – which I suspected could easily be misinterpreted.

What I’ve noticed so far, on this eighth day, is that if I had to get married all over again, traditional wedding and all – I would want every one of them to stand up with me.

These eight women are comprised of a friend who traveled with my family to Greece when we were 14, another dear friend I met at the bus stop who 30 years later is still one of my closest, my oldest friend I’ve known for all (but 5 months) of my 47 years, a best friend with whom I shared all the ups and downs of adolescence, my pledge sister from my first college, another long-time friend and maid-of-honor (the first time around), my roommate at NYU, and still another long-time friend who’s been there since the 6th grade.

They are all special in their own ways, they have all been “best friends” with whom I have collectively shared laughter and tears, sarcasm, arguments, hugs, secrets, sleepovers and concerts, late nights, hangovers, vacations and silly adventures, broken hearts and weddings, and most of all – unwavering friendship in spite of our absences.

What is life without friendships? They are all valuable, for they are all different. I want to thank those eight ladies for their friendship and love, in spite of me.

My friends have made the story of my life…. turned my limitations into beautiful privileges, and enabled me to walk serene and happy. ~ Helen Keller

 

 

 

 

Three Times I’ve Felt Blessed

When I really, really knew. I’m talking profound, existential moments.

The first time it hit me, really hit me, I was on a flight home from Santa Barbara. I’d been in California visiting a long-time, on again-off again boyfriend. What was different about this trip, as opposed to a handful of others to San Diego and Laguna, was that this time I fell in love with California. Santa Barbara – its intimately small airport, State Street with its farmer’s market full of vibrant locally grown produce, the little Greek deli’s spanakopita, the flea market/mall filled with old treasures, the Mission and the beautiful rose garden, the State Street Theater, Earthling bookstore, the magnificent cliffs overlooking the Pacific, two old men painting landscapes on the beach. I spent a great deal of time driving and exploring by myself, and the independence I felt brought me back to those solitary New York days where I was discovering who I was.

I got on the plane that last day and felt not melancholy, but … at peace. I’ve never been afraid to fly. I’ve always loved the rush of the jet lifting off, and again when the wheels skidded to a halt on the runway. And, as the plane lifted off and the California landscape grew smaller and smaller, I thought to myself, how wonderful. If this plane never lands again, if I don’t survive this flight, it will be okay, because I. Am. Blessed. I am happy.

The second, profound, time, on a day I can’t exactly recall, I realized again. Blessed to have extricated myself from a painful situation and I knew that God stood beside me as I walked in the light again. My friends stood beside me, they offered prayers and encouraging words, and I was blessed. And I was blessed to have Todd back. I was blessed during this time that he loved me still, and he stood beside me during the worst of the battles I needed to walk through. The revelation and remembrance that I was blessed is what got me through my darkest days.

This morning. After waking up on the couch at 4 o’clock in the morning, alone, with the cat sleeping on top of me and the dog nearby in her bed and the candles still burning on the coffee table… I crawled back to the bedroom where my husband lay sleeping. I woke again 3 hours later, and snuggled up beside him, his hand massaging the pain out of my arm and we spoke the silent language of long-time lovers and friends and I stroked his brown and gray-stubbled cheek, admiring the curve of his nose and the softness of the lips I’ve known for a lifetime. And I felt Blessed.

For I am and have always been blessed. Not more than anyone else deserves to be, but I recognize it – and inside the walls of my soul, no one and nothing can take that away.

I Met Elvis at the Grocery Store

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This is me.

Saturday Todd and I ventured out to the Happiest Place on Earth – Home Depot. We needed spackling paste and I wanted to buy paint for the guest room, which I ended up not being able to decide on because there’s 50 shades of the color I like. I stood in front of the paint chips display feeling dizzy, and just started grabbing cards like a 3-year-old. And I was giddy as a 3-year-old too.

The place was crawling with orange-aproned people who were so damn happy to see us I was beginning to wonder if we’d fallen through a worm hole and this was Disney in disguise. I swallowed the pill that morning that slows my internal world down from rabbit to the Zootopia sloth, and I was strolling the aisles clutching Todd’s arm while he commandeered the shopping cart – because we can’t go anywhere without pushing a giant shopping cart – and smiling like a bride on her wedding day.

Every single Home Depot employee greeted us at every turn with a huge smile and a hello and a how-are-you? Which began to feel enormously funny to me and then suddenly I was smiling stupidly at everyone and everything. It was like the whole place was infused with laughing gas and they let me, and only me, in on the secret. Because Todd wasn’t laughing. His mind works at a mind-numbing pace so that he is constantly thinking about this thing and that, what he’s doing later, or on Tuesday, or next weekend, or what programming changes need to be made, or home projects, or whether to buy a new Mustang or a pickup truck because he’s sick to death of being without something to lug big stuff around. If I had to live one second inside his brain, I’d probably spontaneously combust.

Anyway. We strolled the aisles together and then I’d wander off to see something or other. We have many plans for the house so much of the tour is about pricing and planning. And as I wandered slowly alone, another employee would smile and say Hello! Some of them greeted me twice, which was really funny. One of them was pushing a giant I-don’t-know-what-you-call-it full of merchandise and miscalculated the turn and slammed into a pole in the aisle next to us, and he started laughing then so I was enormously grateful that I didn’t have to suppress my own laughter. I was sniggling to myself for over an hour in this place.

Finally, Todd took me out of there clutching my handful of paint chips and a package of Reese’s peanut butter cups – and we continued on our journey. We stopped at the liquor store to shop for wine and he loves me. He bought me a new bottle of my favorite vodka, which I’m not going to name so you don’t try to take it when you come to my house, and I was so excited because it came with two crystal skull glasses.

Last stop on the most awesome Date Day ever was the grocery store. Because, food. We just had a few staples to pick up, but Todd grabbed the big cart because, I guess, he’s a man. I don’t get to push the cart, and I’m glad because it lets me be the free spirit I am and wander aimlessly away from him while he “shops.” Seriously, this man can shop. He will stop and look at everything. All you ladies out there whose husbands hate to shop – eat your heart out. You will never see mine sitting alone on one of those plush chairs in department stores trying to blend in with the scenery.

So we’re in the grocery store planning dinner when my appetite was ruined by two girls walking past us, one of whom took her hand away from her mouth just in time for the vomit to escape to the floor in the seafood department. While I was grateful of the reminder that I’m not cut out to be a nurse, I was appalled that they kept going and told no one. So, of course I told someone, and continued through the store feeling nauseated, which is a good thing because that made me think of soda and so I turned the corner of the soda aisle and walked right into Elvis.

Which, if you don’t know by now, was THE highlight of my day. And I know what you’re thinking and NO, I was not hallucinating. He was in disguise though, in regular street clothes, but the sideburns gave him away. I stopped dead (no pun intended, really), not really sure what to do, and Todd goes and says hello to him! And he says hello back and says something totally un-Elvis, like hey man, how ya doin’? And then Todd asks him when he’s appearing again and he doesn’t know, man, since the casino is renovating the bar/restaurant and it’s not supposed to be done til March and it’s under new management and he’s not even sure IF they’ll have him back. I’m like, WHAT?! That’s just wrong. Elvis has a huge following, and the casino will have a riot on their hands if they don’t have him back. I’ll start the petition.

And all this totally happened, because WE have Elvis in OUR town. He lives here. Except he goes by an alias, so we kept it on the downlow when we parted – Todd, Tara, and Ted.

6 Things They Say We Gotta Do, Todd!

Well, Todd, here we go again. It must be couples awareness month, because the articles are trickling in on how to be better at it. (Not that I think we need to be better at it, ‘cause I think we’re rocking the heart stuff, but … play along.)

This one came from a site called Warm Fuzzies, and it’s titled 6 Things You and Your Spouse Should Try This Year!

Create a Marriage Vision Board. What the hell is that, you ask? Well, think collage, but here couples glue shit they want to do and shit they want out of their marriage together, so they can visualize their dreams and make them reality. Who has time for that?! How about pay the bills, keep the kids alive, and maybe retire before we die? Are there pics for that in magazines? Seriously though, I have a good feeling ours would feature two more Mustangs, another cat, a pool, Scotland, a router saw, a child-free vacation to Disney, and a million dollars.

Try out a new hotel in your city. What city are we talking about here? Cause in our town, we’re talking about the truck stop/hotel off of I-95. There IS something romantic and sexy about staying in a hotel, I agree, but not if it includes bed bugs and hookers. For the record, we have considered a night out and overnight in Baltimore, but it seems impractical when we could drive home in 40 minutes or stay at my in-laws. And believe me – there’s nothing romantic and sexy about sleeping in your in-laws’ guest room.

Take an exercise class together. Ha! Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Like THAT’S going to happen. They said that “there’s probably one of you who likes to exercise more than the other.” Um, which one of us would that be? Nevertheless, we biked together over the summer a few times and it was wonderful, so I’d have to say it’s highly recommended. Meanwhile, we have added a treadmill to our newly established weight room and it’s getting plenty of use, albeit at differing times. I guess we still have accountability, though.

Go someplace you’ve never been to before. Yes! Always on my radar, but not always able to. I’d like to say we just get in the car and go, but we’ve had some weekend trips for state bowling tourneys that took us to Erie and Pittsburgh that were reasonably fun and places that wouldn’t be first pick for a destination. But we made the most out of them that we could. The article suggests making a list of 5-7 places to go, and creating a savings to make that happen. I’d say that’s good advice. I wonder if they’re also supposed to be pictured on that Vision Board?

Get more creative in the bedroom. I suppose there’s a lot I could say here, like perhaps we should revisit the back wall of Spencer’s, but Todd is very private and plus my dad reads my blog and so do my in-laws. I prefer to keep my blog PG-14.

Reenact your first date. I really like this idea. That is, if either one of us could remember the actual first date 30 years ago. I suppose we could pretend. Or, reenact any of those dates that followed. But then I couldn’t write about them because they may cross the limits of PG-14 (sorry moms and dads). So, that leaves us with our first meeting as grownups reunited – which was pretty exciting – or perhaps the second time when you grabbed me and kissed me full on. Or maybe the birthday date, with a wonderful dinner and the most thoughtful gifts a man ever gave me. Yeah – let’s do THAT one again.

If you have time, click on the link above – as I want to give full credit to the original article. And while you’re at it, scroll down to the exercise picture and I ask you to envision you and your spouse doing that. Because I want to try this with Todd, just for shits and giggles. If nothing less than a fart or two. Because THIS would be hilarious.

What are your plans with your spouse this year?

The Grilled Cheese Incident

Yesterday a man in Baltimore County got pissed off at his wife for taking a bite out of his grilled cheese sandwich, went into his basement where he kept 15 guns (four of them loaded), and began firing shots at her through the ceiling to the kitchen where she was standing. She fled the house with their three teenagers and no one was harmed. A three-hour standoff ended with him, wearing a holster loaded with ammunition, surrendering to police.

While it sounds funny – thanks to the media who trivialized the incident on Facebook as “The Grilled Cheese Standoff” and in the Baltimore Sun as a “grilled cheese dispute” – there is nothing funny about this. Someone, or several, could have died. The man wasn’t legally allowed to own guns due to previous assault convictions. There is no further information yet as to whether the man is mentally ill or, perhaps, a veteran suffering from PTSD.

We’ve all seen the news recently. Another deadly shooting, this time in the Ft. Lauderdale airport that left me weeping on my couch late Friday night and feeling fearful of ever setting foot in an airport again. The shootings that make the big news are always the ones that seem so random or, lately, those claimed by ISIS. Gun control is a huge issue in this divided country and it’s easy to see why. I believe we have the right to bear arms, but I also think it’s vital to screen individuals who seek gun ownership, particularly in an America that appears to be backsliding into Wild West mentality. I want the right to bear arms, but who in hell needs an AK-47?

Is the grilled cheese evidence of domestic violence, or does it point to a larger problem? Veterans aren’t often getting the help they need, after returning from service in war-torn countries. And even when they do reach out for help – are they getting it?? It seems our fellow in Florida did not. Is the grilled cheese a symbol of our community’s failure to help someone who is crying out for help?

Meanwhile, I contemplated writing this post with a bit of dark humor – that if I were even slightly mental I might have enacted a Dirty Sock Standoff in my own home, albeit with a Nerf gun, or a Supersoaker. Because I’m sick to death of seeing dirty socks lying around the house. Or, dirty clothes littering bedrooms and making it hazardous to enter. One more unmedicated day of tripping over a shoe and I might just have to blow the house up. But I do have a sense of humor that is just risky enough to go to the local pet store and adopt three kittens, because I can.

Lucky for everyone, I AM currently medicated and of sound mind (body notwithstanding) and so I just move through waves of pissed-offedness and get over it. Sometimes I will remind the offenders, other times I find myself thinking snarky things to myself. Still others, I just pick up the socks and forget about it. It’s my lot in life, I suppose.

However, another individual who is a few chicken nuggets short of a Happy Meal might one day decide to carpe diem all those dirty dishes no one could see fit to put in the dishwasher and the next thing you know, their house is on the evening news via helicopter and the whole neighborhood is wondering who lost their shit today. It sounds funny, doesn’t it?

But there’s nothing funny about mental illness. And we need to stop stigmatizing it and brushing it under the nearest rug because it makes us uncomfortable. It needs to be open, front and center. People need to be able to say, I have anxiety and it makes my heart race and I don’t know why, but it scares me. They need to be able to say, I can’t think straight and it scares me. They need to be able to say, I’m afraid to leave my house. They need to be able to say, I don’t want to live anymore. They need to be able to say, my children make me feel violent sometimes. They need to be able to say, I have dreams about the war and people dying in front of me. They need to be met with compassion and direction about how to get the help they deserve, without judgement. Imagine how many lives could be saved.

It’s not funny when post-partum mothers drive their cars into lakes with their children strapped inside. It’s not funny when a friend kills himself because he can’t cope with his chronic illness anymore. It’s not funny when a service member is traumatized by horrors in countries we only read about, and they return home to cope with it alone.

What can we do? What can YOU do?