This is Not About PMS

Blogged while finishing off the coffee Todd made. (Sorry babe.)

At the risk of scaring away any male readers, PMS sucks. It was not in my plan to make this an opener today. I had other plans for this post. But today’s post isn’t going to be about the original plan, and it’s not going to be about PMS either. However, PMS has driven the direction of my thoughts today, and so there you have it.

I just want to preface this by stating that being in my 40s has given me a sort of Superwoman ability to recognize when PMS is coming. Okay, so maybe it’s really just a side effect of maturity… but still…this, my friends, is a –UGE milestone. Where in my  20s I’d hit that week where everyone and everything pissed me off and I barreled through all of it like a freight train bent on destruction, I can now see myself getting stabby and am able to sort of reel it in before everyone in my orbit feels like they’ve been tased. There are far fewer victims in my wake now.

Todd can talk me down off the wall, but I still have to make him understand why I feel this way and he has to acknowledge it before I can let it go. Like yesterday in the garage. I was putting stuff away from the community yard sale and sweating my balls off, and complaining wildly about it. The sweating, not the putting away of stuff. And before someone tells me I don’t have balls I will tell you I have plenty, and I’m not afraid to use them, but I was sweating so hard [sweating my balls off] that I sweat them right off! So in which case, you’re right – I have no balls now.

And, while we’re on the subject of balls, a few weeks ago my mom was over and we were all standing out on the deck enjoying a relaxing Sunday when she suddenly looked at Opac and said, don’t scratch your balls in front of your Nannie. Veruca’s face registered an amusing struggle to simultaneously control shock and hysteria. Opac stopped scratching/adjusting/ whatever-you-boys-do and fired back matter-of-factly – why were you looking there?

Anyway, back to not talking about PMS. It makes me stabby, and occasionally weepy. But we’re not going to talk about that. Except for the fact that I am almost never feeling that way, except for that one week every month, and even then it’s almost always never weepy. Except for this time.

I’m trying not to feel weepy about Pi, who’s 15 and falling down a little more often every day and sometimes when she does she loses her bladder. I have a post started along the My Life Is Shit series, meant to be funny, but today it’s anything but funny.

Todd and I were simultaneously cleaning up kitchen surfaces this morning – him, the pile of papers on the island and me, the pile of stuff on the kitchen table. I bought these “Calming” chews for Sabra and I held up the bag to show him and he wondered aloud if someone makes something all-natural like this for humans, which surely someone does, and I said as much while remembering some Chinese herbs someone had “prescribed” me years ago for my anxiety. So of course he asked, who? Someone I dated on and off over a 6-year period, who moved to California to study Chinese medicine and acupuncture. He said, why don’t you call him and find out what it was? I would never, because he would never speak to me – I’d walked away from him three times. I’m not so callous to think he has even thought of me in the last 18 years, but if he did, it was with hate.

Todd’s on this plane right now that is equally matter-of-fact and at times quite harsh. His response to this? That guy had no business being with me. You were never his, he said. That may be true, but for the record – I was never about breaking hearts.

The conversation segued into how series of events lead us to the places we end up in… like for me, had I never gone to a small college in PA I would never have met a guy who introduced me to my big sister (sorority), and with whom we would not have visited a fraternity brother in a hospital in North Jersey, and ended up spending a whirlwind day in New York City whereby I discovered a certain University whose purple flags hung all over the village and intrigued me to the point I would never forget them.

Todd pointed out that had we not broken up, he would not have left town for Baltimore. Or, that I might have moved down there with him, and gone to college there. He mentioned that night I came to his work to return some things of his, and how difficult it was for him. Tears filled my eyes as he told me how he flipped out on someone and walked out. I can still remember that night like it was yesterday, or at least the emotions I felt. Erikah drove me over there. I remember the anxiety, and the awkwardness between us. And how I cried as we drove away.

I swiped at the tears while we talked this morning. I don’t remember what I was returning to him that night – because we’d had another day when he’d come to my house and I gave him his jacket and his ring, and we’d ended up on the floor, loving each other like it would never be over.

If he saw the tears rimming my eyes as we talked, it didn’t stop his train of thought as he pointed out how, when something is that difficult to let go of, you’re not supposed to let go of it. And – our breakup was very, very hard to do. It wasn’t a breakup where one of us said to the other – I don’t want you. I just want and/or need something else too.

It was me. The child, the Gemini in me, had something more she wanted to do, something more she wanted to know, experience, live…  He said this morning, he would never have broken up with me. Maybe not, but we will never know. We took a different path. He chose not to fight me. He didn’t want to hold me back – a display of love and maturity that defied his 17 years. I stood before him conflicted and heartbroken, and cried a thousand times over him as I moved on. It’s amazing how easy it is to remember and feel them in the same way, in all of my extremities and my heart and the pit of my stomach.

I’m so glad he took me back. I’m so glad he loved me. I’m so blessed to share the rest of our lives together, as it was written long ago.

And equally blessed because this man who knows me better than I know myself, just walked quietly past me and dropped a handful of M&Ms on my desk.

 

 

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Happily ever after…

Copyright The Tara Chronicles.

Destination Pittsburgh – Day 2

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Photo Copyright TMA & The Tara Chronicles, 2106

Bowling alley #2 was only twenty minutes from our hotel and we didn’t have to leave as early as the day before. I heard Todd in the shower a little after 7 and I snuggled down in the sheets, still wrapped up in the warmth of sleep. At 7:30 he burst out of the bathroom with an urgency reserved only for oversleeping and told me Dick just texted him. Apparently, all four of us were under the impression that the tournament started at 9 like yesterday – and Jane just re-read the paper and it said 8:30. Under the best circumstances, we should arrive 30 minutes early to register and blah, blah, blah (whatever the bowlers do).

Let me just tell you how amazing I am. I leapt out of bed like the room was on fire and jumped in the shower. Twenty minutes later I was showered, dressed, made-up, hair dried….and packed up to leave. Todd kept telling me to slow down and relax, but I have this nervous energy that gets going like a freight train and there’s no stopping it. We collected an armful of breakfast from the hotel lobby, and that same young man appeared beside me at just the right time holding an open bag. I poured two cups of coffee in to-go cups and off we went.

Bowling alley #2 was in a town called New Versailles, a place you’d need an acid trip to experience anything close to the extravagance its name implies. The 20-minute drive took us through what looked like a town even the devil forgot, full of decrepit old buildings and homes with weeds climbing over fences and creeping up cracked sidewalks and broken windows. There was nothing fearful about it, only a sense of empty sadness and hopelessness. Did anybody actually live here?

And of course this is where the bowling alley would be. Well, not quite. The abandoned, graffiti-ed, and boarded up buildings gave way to … a pawn shop. I TOLD you so. The bowling alley was at the top of the hill from this, and just beyond was the light of McDonalds and the promise of real businesses with real people in them. I begged Todd to go toward the light, but he turned off in a crumbled parking lot filled incongruously with shiny, newer model cars.

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I TOLD you so.

This bowling alley was a stark contrast from yesterday’s and, knowing what to expect in any case, I was hardly surprised. The lanes our team started on had a breakdown just as they got started, but officials got it fixed. The water fountain was broken, one toilet in the ladies room was out of order, another stall was out of toilet paper (at 8:30 in the morning!), and there was no decaf. The bathrooms smelled like old people’s poop, and the scent infiltrating the entire bowling alley (I kid you not) was a very unwelcome assault on the nostrils so soon after waking. The snack bar was between the table where I was sitting and the restrooms, and I wondered what would make someone want to order anything with the noxious fumes of a sewer so close by. To add insult to injury? The sign on the front doors forbidding outside food and drink. Not many were deterred, especially me with my big Holiday Inn Express bag of goodies. I don’t know if the smell ever abated. I imagine I became immune to it, much like farmers do to manure.

It didn’t rain on day 2 – the sun was shining, although it was 39 degrees. We stopped for gas in an adjacent town my dad told me was a nice place to have breakfast or lunch, though I have serious doubts he wasn’t pulling my leg. The gas stations out there are called Get-Go. I bravely ordered a turkey sub (because we’re not in Philly anymore and you can’t get a hoagie in Pittsburgh*) and gave no thought to ordering a fourteen-inch. Todd and I shared HALF of it. But it was delicious. Three points for Get-Go. Channeling my youth, I chased it with a Dr. Pepper and spent the next two hours belching onions and hot peppers while Todd and I sang our hearts out to old 80s tunes and one-hit wonders. (Sirius rocks.)

We were pumped about the sunshine and clear road conditions on the drive home, that is, until a warning came up on the GPS that the road was closed ahead. A last minute choice kept us on the turnpike, and we paid for it when traffic came to a complete stop for thirty minutes. There’d been an accident in one of the tunnels. We saw some wicked tire marks running like a clothes-line across the two lanes when we finally passed through.

We sat at mile marker 114 and talked to Dick and Jane, who were 11 miles ahead of us, and Ted – who was about 2 miles behind us. I joked about jogging back to him and then back to Todd – at least I’d get my run in that day. It started snowing – little snowflakes blowing on the sunny wind – snow, in mid-May! But at least it wasn’t raining.

When the road reopened we were cruising again at a cool 80 m.p.h., and more than made up for the time lost. We picked up the kids a full hour and a half earlier than I’d predicted, and they were surprisingly upbeat and grateful to be going home. My favorite thing.

 

Destination Pittsburgh – Day 1 Continued

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Photo Copyright The Tara Chronicles, 2016

After the bowling tournament, we drove through fairly steady rainfall back to the city. A weekend away together, alone, was a luxury we weren’t going to ignore and so planned to explore a bit and get some food. Dick and Jane decided to join us. The drive to the bowling alley was exciting because we literally skirted around the city and there were bridges crossing the three rivers and many parts of the borough. Now I know why they call it the City of Bridges. There are 446 bridges in and around Pittsburgh, the most bridges anywhere – eclipsed only by Venice. Think about that for a moment. And they were everywhere. I’m really glad I’m not one of those people who freaks out over bridges. Obviously those people don’t live in Pittsburgh.

I had googled places to eat while in Pittsburgh and had my mind settled on a pub called the Gandy Dancer Saloon, which is located in Station Square. It is attached to the Grand Concourse, a breathtakingly beautiful fine-dining restaurant in what was once the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad Station. It has a vaulted cathedral stained glass ceiling (pictured above), and a grand staircase that would rival any red-carpet entrance. I considered it for dinner, but thought we’d enjoy the Gandy Dancer more for its variety of appetizers and (what I thought would be) small plates. As it was lunchtime and the four of us were starving, I suggested we go there now instead of at dinner. And it’s a really good thing I made this call, because the entire establishment was to be closed for a wedding reception that evening.

Station Square, across the river from the city proper, is a cute little niche for shopping and restaurants (and a Sheraton hotel – which I would’ve chosen, had I done more research, for its proximity to the city). It was here that I took the photo that appeared in the previous post. I imagine it would be bustling like bees in a hive, were it not for the torrential rainfall we were experiencing. We hustled ourselves through the cold rain to the restaurant and seated ourselves at a large round wooden table surrounded by bar stools and next to what appeared to be an old safe.

Our waiter, a dapper young man with impeccable manners, approached our table warmly and welcomed us. He called me Miss. I looked at Todd. Did you hear that? He called me MISS. I was sure it was genuine, though I teased him for ass-kissing. (NO I did NOT use those words.)

Todd ordered a scotch and I decided to try Pittsburgh’s East End IPA on draft (yummy). We were delivered a basket of hot rolls with butter and a smoked salmon spread. We ate way too much bread. I ordered the Portobello fries with honey jalapeño mayo – it was an enormous appetizer and our waiter apologized because the “fries” were huge. I love mushrooms and these were delicious. There were so many choices on the menu it was really tough to decide. I went with the rather tame Chicken Caprese on focaccia with mozzarella and balsamic vinaigrette (don’t judge) – it was mouthwatering. Todd chose the IPA beer-battered Fish and Chips, which were also good. I would have liked to try the Yucatan Fish Tacos too, but we were already stuffed halfway through our main course. Dick and Jane ordered different foods, so we were able to taste.

The rain abated long enough for us to walk to the river and snap some more photos, and get a really good look at the Duquesne Incline. Regrettably, we didn’t go up, but we should have, even if it was raining. It’s a steep incline – 800 feet long, 400 feet high, at a 30-degree angle – that affords a view of Pittsburgh’s Golden Triangle. Wikipedia said it was finished in 1877 as a means to move cargo up and down Mt. Washington (now completely refurbished and moves only people), and – for all you old-timers – it was featured in Flashdance.

So the drizzle began anew and we decided to visit the casino (there’s certainly no shortage of casinos around bowling tournaments) – which was huge and pretty and crowded… and smoky. We had forgotten that smoking is permitted in designated areas in PA’s casinos. And no matter where you are, it follows you. I lost $30 in the slot machines, visited the bar for an aperitif, and made a pit stop in the restroom where I was blown away by the sharps disposal container on the wall. This really touched me – that a large public venue had made accommodations for diabetics who use needles. I wondered how many people made use of this.

Todd loves casinos, so it’s often a stop for us when time and economics allow. I have my favorite machines, and remain superstitious about them. He, on the other hand, has uncanny luck and usually wins consistently – though he plays for fun, not money, and he’s happy to break even by the time we leave. Dick and Jane, like me, don’t get the desire to essentially throw hard-earned cash into what is really just a fancy toilet with bells and whistles and flashing lights (though I hear these things do exist, I think, in Japan. Which also has bidets, which I really don’t get. I mean, I can’t not envision a cartoon character riding a geyser. It’s just weird.) (But maybe someday…)

Anyway, the casino is across the street from Heinz stadium – so I texted a few unexciting photos of it to my son, who I’ve been told I should be ashamed of for being such a huge Steelers fan. I fantasized briefly about running into Antonio Brown in the casino and how I would ask for a pic and how effing awesome that would be to text to Opac. He would SHIT HIS PANTS. But alas, another pipe dream.

We old folks then decided it was high time for a nap, and drove back to the hotel for some R & R and agreed on drinks later at the Applebee’s around the corner. Now, I have nothing against chain restaurants – and we do frequent a few of them from time to time – but when traveling I prefer the novelty and character of home-grown restaurants. It was an innocuous decision – we just wanted some drinks after 8, close to the hotel. It was great fun – and the bartender, who was our age, was friendly and easy to joke with. All in all, everyone we had so far encountered in the Steel City was warm and welcoming. And, despite the rain, our first day was lovely. What would day 2 bring?

 

 

Destination Pittsburgh

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Photo copyright The Tara Chronicles, 2016

Our road trip last weekend took us to Pittsburgh, PA for the state bowling tournament. Born and raised in southeastern Pennsylvania, I’ve only ever been to western PA once before and that was to Erie for the state tournament two years ago. When my family vacationed, we got the heck out of dodge. Way out.

Driving west is really kind of boring, particularly when you’re pressed for time and practicality wins out, and you’re left counting mile markers on the turnpike while gobbling up Middleswarth BBQ chips. I snapped a few photos before the sun disappeared, but they’re all mostly gradations of green landscape, some blurry trees, the occasional farm and some cows. Napping wasn’t an option. I feel guilty for snoozing while he drives since I accidently do it all the time late at night after a few drinks. (If there was a dislike button for this, Todd would have broken it by now.)

Friends who’d left ahead of us texted about the windy roads that twist around hills and mountains, and the overall landscape of the area we were staying in, sharing a pic of a Walmart perched so high on a hill you could only see the rooftop.

We stopped at a rest stop to refuel and to forestall a urinary emergency, and encountered a double-decker bus filled with teenagers. The ladies room was so loud I felt like my ears were bleeding. The toilet didn’t flush.

I drove the last two hours or so thanks to Todd’s back pain. Some much of the turnpike out west wraps around mountains and has more curves than Kim Kardashian. I gradually grew irritated with a car from West Virginia that seemed determined to catch up and pass me, only to slow down and allow me to pass them. There were several tunnels.

We arrived at 11:25, after an exiting mishap whereby Todd told me to get off and it wasn’t actually where we were supposed to get off…and suddenly I was driving through an area I’m quite certain we were not supposed to be in late at night. Couples who have been driving together for hours and are also sleep deprived can be a little touchy with each other, particularly over directions and driving through neighborhoods with a disproportionate number of boarded dwellings.

A few minutes later, the gentleman at the hotel’s front desk cheerfully checked our weary selves in and said he was there till 7:30 a.m. if we needed anything. Todd asked if he could get us a bottle of scotch. It’s amazing how he can pull humor out of the air with bloodshot eyes. I was all like, cut the shit and get me to the room.

Great hotel – newly renovated and very clean….brand-new white fluffy towels that put ours to shame and a big comfortable king-size bed. I was in it in 10 minutes flat, naked and ready to…. sleep. Sorry to disappoint, folks, but we’re old. Though – there is something to be said about sex away from home and children. But I’m not saying it. Move along…nothing to see here.

Exactly 5 ½ hours later we were up and showered and went down to join our friends. We were the only four in there. That is, until someone who appeared to work there was chatting quite loudly with our front desk man and I swear to God I heard him drop the f-bomb. I glanced up at my compatriots and no one else seemed to notice, so I figured maybe I was hallucinating.

So I had this yellow stuff they said was scrambled eggs but had the texture of tapioca, but I’m not complaining because the turkey sausage was good and there was plenty of Chobani and milk and fresh fruit and a pancake-making station and cinnamon rolls. I’m not a big fan of carbs, or sugar, but that cinnamon roll. I grabbed an extra for the road and the young man who was attending to the buffet brought me a box to put it in.

The first day of the tournament was an hour away from our hotel, on the other side of the city. The location was surprisingly nice, given that the majority of bowling alleys I’ve been to always seem to be tucked away in some dark forgotten corner of town and next to pawn shops and hookers. I mentioned this to Todd, who wondered whether those pawn shops were a graveyard of bowling balls and broken dreams. (Okay – I’ve never really seen any hookers, but there could be.)

We arrived at 8:30 to a bustling alley, smell of coffee in the air, and announcements for the bar’s bloody mary’s. The team table next to ours was already lined up with empty beer bottles and four buckets of new ones, at 8:30 a.m. They were a group of (mostly) bald men uniformed in camo shorts and matching orange t-shirts – with their nicknames: Mic, Keff, Shooter, and…. Urinator. I can’t make this shit up. I put down my Prince edition of People Magazine. Something worthy of blog fodder has gotta happen. I tried unsuccessfully to discretely get a pic of all them together, from the back, during the Star-Spangled Banner when I was supposed to be reverent. Here’s the one I got later (sorry it’s blurry), before we rolled out:  (pun intended)20160514_120822-2-1

Unfortunately for me, and this blog, this group of aging frat boys were remarkably tame. Several times I found myself trying desperately to stay awake – a task that shouldn’t be that hard in a place louder than a 747 at takeoff. I contemplated joining the crowd and grabbing a basket of French fries and a beer, because, well – bowling. I thought about that beer during most of game 3, but knew that Todd would never speak to me again if I got drunk and stupid that early in the day. After all, we had a whole new city to explore.

 

Fun facts:

Middleswarth potato chips began in a 2-room building off the side of Bob Middleswarth’s Beavertown, PA home in 1942. I discovered the unique flavor of their BBQ potato chips during a two-year college stint in central PA and they’re the best I’ve ever had, and I am not being paid to promote this though I’d welcome weekly shipments as a thanks. Though currently only distributed to 11 locations in Pennsylvania, they can be ordered online and shipped anywhere.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike was designed in the 1930s and opened on October 1, 1940. It was the first long-distance, limited-access highway in the United States. It utilized seven tunnels originally built for the railroad in the 1880s, four of which cut through the Appalachian mountains. 

Each day’s tournament is roughly three hours long, but it will feel like six when you’re only a spectator. Outside food and beverage is discouraged by the bowling alleys; but in many cases I highly recommend ignoring this rule, especially when using the bathrooms as a gauge for the quality of the establishment.

 

 

 

Road Trip – Survival of the Fittest

It’s that time of year again – state bowling tournament and a road trip for Todd and me. I love road trips. I’ve had this idea of driving cross-country for over twenty years. I imagined driving across the southern states to California and then back east across the northern states. I guess you could say this is on the bucket list I have yet to write up. My dad has done the drive to Texas several times for my brother who attended university there and I’ve lived vicariously through their stories of the best steakhouse shack they ever stumbled across, the flat tire about 14 hours into the drive, and their multiple stops in New Orleans. I so wish I could’ve gone along at least once. (Maybe not for the flat tire trip.)

My dad told me that he once went on a road trip with a girl he was dating (obviously this was a century ago), and how by the time they got to their destination they wanted to kill each other. It ultimately ended the relationship before they even made it back. Now, I could’ve told him – had I not been 4 years old – that one should start with a short road trip, you know, to test the waters. Somehow being 18 hours away from home with a once-adored someone whose neck would look better with your hands around it, seems like a recipe for homicide – or, at the very least – a very bad case of constipation.

Todd and I are two peas in a pod. To say we travel well together is an understatement. We are an old married couple of newlyweds with a white-hot sex life. (C’mon – I had to throw that in there before ya’ll started yawning.) So – I am very excited to be on the next road trip with him. The bowling tournament, not so much.

Bowling is like sports’ lazy-eyed cousin. The sports world wants them hidden away … the alleys are almost always in seedy, run-down parts of town where no one would go after dark without an escort. It’s never been a sport where someone asks what you play and then says, “awesome!”

He went to a different tournament last weekend and I was grateful I had to work. This is because he went to Scranton (an old coal-mining town in northeastern PA) and every time I’m driving through desolate areas in parts of Pennsylvania I get angina. It’s difficult to explain – just consider it an old wound that’s healing about as fast as an ulcer. The only saving grace on that trip last year, and the state tournament to Erie two years ago – was Xanax Todd. (Really, I don’t even have Xanax.) (Though I’m beginning to think I should.) He kept me off the ledge.

Road trips are a true test of marriage and friendship, not to mention parenting – but for the sake of this conversation, there are no children on this road trip. (This is another whole post, for which I will need Xanax just to recount.) Being in a tight and enclosed space with that other person for hours on end …. The flow of conversation, the mutual enjoyment of silence or musical choices, compassion for bathroom breaks, and agreement on food and beverage options … is critical for maintaining serenity and suppressing the desire to jump out of a moving car. That and not getting drunk and being the one passed out in the passenger seat (true story). Or, sharing the driving duties – assuming your driving doesn’t make your passenger carsick (sadly, another true story).

The liberal use of brakes is forbidden, as is the waving of certain fingers and raising one’s voice at other drivers. Reckless driving is also frowned upon, though that’s more difficult on the open highway in east-Bumblefuck PA. (This is a real place. Look it up.) Swearing at the GPS is acceptable, as long as one finds his sense of humor soon after. Handholding is cool, but not so long that one of you loses sensation in that hand. Hanky panky is just plain dangerous when the car is in motion, but suggestion is a powerful aphrodisiac that may propel the car faster to its destination – and, if you have tinted windows, an impromptu truck stop detour may be reasonable so long as bathrooms are available and you don’t park near any other vehicles.

Departure is t-minus 6 hours. I can’t wait.

 

 

And a Comedy For Those Who Think

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Copyright Rob Radikal

Melancholy has gotten the best of me over the last few days. I knew, like a good fart, it would pass at just the right time.

Yesterday Todd called me on his way to work. Lately when the phone rings, it hasn’t been exactly the best phone call in the world. So, after my mom called me early that morning upset that she had to take her dog to the vet because he’d stopped eating and drinking and couldn’t support himself with his hind legs, I was justifiably weary when the phone rang again.

But it was Todd, and he’d only just left a short time ago – what could possibly be wrong? Apparently when he was getting dressed earlier, he noticed a shirt on top of the laundry basket that he didn’t recognize… so, he called me.

He asked, who was here that left an XL shirt behind?

When I was cleaning out my walk-in closet, I found a bag… are you ready for this?……… a bag with dry cleaning in it from when we moved from our old house. Three years ago. This shirt was in there. Naturally I’m like, why is this even in here? Why not wash it and iron it so he can wear it?? Which is what I did. Except that now he doesn’t recognize it (it has been over 3 years, after all). I told him all of this. (Well, except for pointing out the fact that he didn’t recognize his own shirt.)

And he said – are you ready for THIS? He said, oh – I was just wondering if I had to start worrying about you and the pool boy…

—–Wait up, hold up.

There are a couple of things wrong with this picture. First off – we don’t have a pool boy. Hell – we don’t even have a pool. Second – why in fuck would the pool boy be wearing a SHIRT???

Okay seriously. So I said, oh my God. Don’t be ridiculous. I would never cheat on you with the pool boy. (Because let’s face it – who can afford a pool boy?) (Okay seriously now… pool boys are too young and we forty-something ladies need someone with experience.  With the pool chemicals – DUH!)

And then I said, besides – you know the only man I would EVER CONSIDER having sex with besides you…

And he’s DEAD!

And then I laughed my mother-f***ing ass off. (Quote borrowed from Eddie Murphy)

And my Toddy laughed too. A) Because I’m funny. And B) Because he knows I’m right.

(I’m going to leave out the part where he said matter-of-factly, yeah, but you wouldn’t really do that. And I agreed that I wouldn’t really do that.)

(Even though I might have a really, really tough time saying no to Prince in-the-flesh singing Do Me Baby to me in-the-flesh. Who in their right mind says no to THAT?)

(Well, I guess it’s a good thing I’ll never have to be put in that predicament…)

The good news is – I actually cracked a joke about Him. Things are looking up.

Never Date Somebody You’ve Never Noticed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Snowfalls, Remembered

Over a glass of Knob Creek, and after an impromptu cleanup of an overflowing toilet in the kids’ bathroom…
 
All this snow – and a Facebook post by a friend who lives in New York City – had me thinking about snowfalls past.
While I was a student at NYU, I loved the days it snowed and blanketed the city in pristine white. There was this one magical snow that I have never forgotten. It was the end of 1990- the beginning of 1991 – I was home on break but returned to the city one weekend to spend time with this guy was I was dating. We decided to go to the movies – we saw Awakenings in an intimately small midtown theatre and I was blown away by Robert DeNiro’s performance. I was feeling hormonal and particularly emotional, and tried so hard not to cry and embarrass myself.
It had started snowing during the movie so that the scene outside the theatre was positively beautiful. The side street was white and unadulterated by tire marks, and there was the occasional cab skidding by on 3rdAvenue. Otherwise, just the snow falling silently all around us, ghostly steam rising out of the manhole covers, and people leisurely walking –so black and white, like a scene out of a silent film. I could hear the sound of my own heart beating. He took me by the hand and together we walked the distance back to our dorm. I don’t remember what we talked about, or even what I felt – other than overcome by the magic of a silent, white New York on a snowy night, telling myself I never wanted to leave. If you’ve lived there, you know those moments don’t last. The next morning would be brown and potholes full of icy, dirty water would have to be navigated, along with slippery sidewalks and cold, gusty winds.
I don’t often remember whole events in my life, but certain scenes just stand out. Kind of like old photographs in an old dusty album. They are memories, but only tell a tiny part of the story.
Another snippet – a frigid, snowy night on 3rd Avenue again. My roommate and I were distracted from our studies by the sounds of our neighbors in the suite next door, making a ruckus from their window catty-corner from ours. They had started an impromptu baseball game with a stranger in an apartment across the street, baseballs crafted from snow collected from the rooftop above the 12th floor. Snow they carried down the elevator. Our friend was pitching the snowballs across 12th street and the stranger was hanging out his 4th floor window hitting them with a frying pan.
Most magical snowfall ever? The night Todd and I stole a kiss under the moonlight while the snow fell silently all around us, just a few weeks before we went public, the second time.
What’s your most magical snowfall? Tell me, I wanna know.

 

2015 – A Year in Review

It may be a bit backwards to post the year in review after the 16 things I’m looking forward to this year, but I am a Gemini who is rebellious against convention, has an unquenchable thirst for shock-factor, and an unfortunate lack of control over what comes out of my mouth.
Looking back on last year, it had all the appearances of a calamitous beginning but thankfully it was only a temporary spell with no long-term damage. We had a shit-ton of snow early in the year, which led to more snow days than any sane mother should have to withstand, and then there was a relatively short episode of the flu. Todd had it through New Years’, and the kids had very mild symptoms about a month or so into 2015. I brought up the rear as the last one to spend 4 days in bed.
A began her last year of elementary school and O, his first of high school. It’s surreal how fast time goes by – and I know I mention that every year. She had one crush before the 4th grade ended – a “very nice” boy who she said wasn’t the best looking kid in class but he was the nicest and he made her laugh. Whether the sentiment was returned, we’ll never know, but it was heartwarming to realize that she is absorbing what I’ve taught her. Meanwhile, refuses to discuss girls. At all.
Both kids dove into extracurriculars last year. O played community basketball at the Y last winter, and in May – after he informed me that he really wanted to try out for football and we discussed a neurotic mother’s concerns – he began weight-training three days a week until practice began in August.  A returned to cheer after 3 years. So, what promised to be alternately a relaxing and petulant summer became an endless carpool from one practice to another, some occasionally overlapping and creating a new layer of stress for the divergent mom.
Todd and I got away on some day trips over the summer – to Ocean City on the 4th of July, which was a great deal of fun but perhaps not the best day to attempt to get into town – and to Cape May for a walk on the beach, a hike up 104 steps inside the lighthouse which ignited a vertigo I hope to avoid the rest of my life, some window shopping, some great pints and pub food, and a race to the sunset by the water. Lovely.
Our tenants in the apartment moved out! They left a gargantuan mess to be gutted and the unmistakable stench of urine, but the project got finished and the apartment is beautiful now, to be utilized as our “guest house,” rather than a tenant-occupied space. One could say we are slowly learning a hard-won lesson about “giving” of ourselves to others.
I had written about the addition of Neph to our quarters… what first appeared to be an easy transition had its share of rough patches.  One might argue that the immediate family dynamic is delicate – it is young, considering that the four of us have only lived together for 4 years – but it is well-established in routine and expectations. To add a new dynamic – with a dynamic not so subtly different – requires patience and work to keep the cogs and wheels turning smoothly. For reasons I am protective of, as well as those involved, suffice it to say that there just isn’t enough oil and a cog or two is rusty.
Meanwhile, between weight-lifting and cheer camp, the kids and I – along with Nephtoo – went to Cape May with my mom for 4 days. While I swore halfway through the second day of Veruca’s* sour attitude that I would not do this trip again (even if Mom paid me) – I will say that it was lovely to have the boys together, especially Nephtoo, because he softened my mood tremendously.
We threw our first party at the house since July 2011 – when I was just “girlfriend” and we had just gotten back together – invited everybody and it was a blast. The house itself has seen a lot of changes since that first party and while we still have a ways to go on the lower level, I know Todd was proud of the improvements. I loved having my aunts there! I so miss the family I grew up with, as our time together is fewer and farther between, so it meant the world to me that they were there.
Todd was promoted to full professor last year – a well-earned distinction –and continued his multi-committee obligations while simultaneously working on a grant and developing his own product. Meanwhile, I continued my very important work as hospitality and beverage ambassador at the restaurant, in addition to resident baker, and domestic engineer and writer of all things.
Last year I made a decision to step up and into a more involved role in Diabetes world. And, either through this decision or by sharing the same blackballed status, I made several new friends around the country who share my enthusiasm for awareness and education and believe in uniting for our common cause (rather than fighting against each other for what-makes-absolutely-no-sense reasons).
While Diabetes Awareness Month promised to deliver some powerful messages, the unfortunate – not to mention counterproductive – support group debacle really stole some of the thunder from our efforts. However, we were not discouraged enough to quit. I wrote to my governor and acquired a proclamation for November to be Diabetes Awareness Month. I attempted, and failed, to get the attention of my local government for this cause – but, again, I’m not discouraged. I joined my state’s efforts to improve diabetes management in schools, and will continue to participate in this amazing committee – the outcome set to launch this summer. (I will be writing more about this in another post.)
The year ended relatively quietly – even if it was at the restaurant. We didn’t have over 100 like last year, most of the guests were newcomers (!) and the music was great but not wall-busting like last year. And for all of that, I’m grateful. And the best part? Kissing my first love at the first minute of 2016.