Monday, December 20, 2010


Why do we always hurt the ones we love?

I feel like my heart has been pierced by the tiniest, sharpest knife in the arsenal of someone very close to me. And it hurts. A lot.

I'm trying to find the logic of this person's decision. I can't make peace with it.

I laid my cards on the table, went out on a limb, invited this person into my feelings...tried to describe what I felt and then explained what I needed. And I was hurtfully rebuffed.

I just want a little peace...and a soft place to fall...just for a little while...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Shopping and Preparing Like The Dickens - Christmas 2010

Like my literature-related pun in the title? No...oh well, off to better reading.

This is the busiest time of the year by far. It's much worse than back to school because I'm shopping and preparing for everyone I know, not just those to whom I've given birth.

There's shopping, wrapping, baking, planning, and explaining to the kid who Santa Claus really is. But more on that later.

The kid's teacher needs yet another mug (everyone always gets the teacher a mug, right? that's the rule, isn't it?), my grandmother needs yet another sweater that she'll never wear, and my cousin needs yet another set of pretty jammies (I know she wear regular clothes, but I've only ever seen her wear the jammies I give her). I managed to find what I think are the most expensive girls panties on the Eastern Seaboard, but though I got a great bargain because they were buy 4, get 2 free. I went to buy the kid a winter coat and instead bought her a faux fur leopard skin jacket. Yeah, because faux fur leopard skin is just the thing to keep you warm in a blizzard...NOT!!! I bought all sorts of cookies, but didn't really have anyone to give them to, and since my mom is the Christmas Cookie Baking Nazi, I really had some nerve BUYING cookies. When she saw what I was buying, she gave me a frumpy look and then marched off to plan my accidental death by way of the Kitchen-Aid mixer.

This year, after all the emotional and financial turmoil, I am really making a point of counting my blessings and getting into the spirit of the season. I listen to beloved Christmas music and remember those magical Christmas moments of my childhood.

Ex and I sat down with the kid last week and explained the story of St. Nicholas and that a jolly man in a red suit is not coming through the patio door with presents (hey, I don't have a chimney, I had to be creative with the architectural design of my house, ok?). She was really bummed, but then told us she figured it out last year. That little stinker!! Ex and I proceeded to tell her that she was now a guardian of the story, that she had to keep her knowledge about who brings the presents to herself and not repeat it under any circumstances. That's when she got the devilish grin on her face.

I'm missing my maternal grandparents. I always do around this time of year. We made a HUGE Italian fish dinner every Christmas Eve and it just hasn't been the same since they passed away. It was the one day of the year that Grandma let Grandpa use her kitchen. They taught me to de-vein shrimp when I was 5 years old and by 8 years old, I was the reigning de-veining queen. Grandma would pour me a cup of coffee and I'd happily clean shrimp for hours.

Then, there was the Christmas I got Terry, my wire fox terrier. He was the greatest Christmas present I ever got, hands down. He cemented in me a love of dogs that is still with me today.

Then there was the first Christmas Ex and I lived together. We got this great tree and I cooked Christmas dinner.

Christmas can also be heart-breaking. My uncle J was killed in a car wreck in November of 1977 and to say that Christmas that year was a little somber is putting it mildly.

The first Christmas after Ex moved out was a little tough too. I had to get rid of the angel tree-topper we bought together and I had to throw out the two turtle doves that Mom gave us for our first Christmas after we got married.

I realize that my job now is to make happy memories for the kid. She's the one that Christmas is all about now.

It's all about making magic...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

When The Past Creeps Up On You...In A Good Way

The boy I sat next to in 7th grade math class accepted my Facebook friend request. I still have the mark on my leg from when he stabbed me with a pencil. I can't remember what prompted such an attack. I might have been making fun of how short he was. Maybe. Remember this is 7th grade...the girls were all getting used to wearing their bras every day, yet all the boys hadn't quite hit their growth spurts.

I'm friends with lots of people with whom I went to school. Too Tall K, who lived down the hall from me. MID, who carries on the tradition of her mother's chicken and potatoes. RB, who is still the social butterfly and who is still one of the coolest people on the planet. G, who still carries her camera everywhere she goes. And all those beautiful girls with whom I went to an all-girls Catholic high school. Seriously, these were some of the most stunning girls on the planet.

I like to look their pictures. Invariably there are the kid pictures (if they are parents), the pet pictures (if they have dogs/cats/whatever)...and there are the pictures of our youth.

Brooklyn is exactly like you see in the movies. The scene where John Travolta walking down the street in Saturday Night Fever is so typical. I could be watching a home movie. My uncle looked just like that, only he was blond. The hair, the strut, the working class mentality...that was Uncle J, to a tee.  

Brooklyn takes the idea of "6 degrees of separation" very seriously. And it's usually less than 6 degrees. The wife of one of my ex boyfriends went to a rival all girls Catholic high school with one of my summer sisters. And conversely, this man's mother used to be the administrator of one of my co-workers when she worked at another hospital. And on a totally separate note, I used to be a cashier in the same supermarket as Too Tall K's wife and her sister, waaaaaay before Too Tall K ever met her. 

Although Brooklyn could never be considered a small town, each neighborhood had a small town feel. Each neighborhood had its playground, its alley to sneak smokes you swiped from someone's parents, its own park where you first let the icy waterslide of a Calvin cooler or a Budweiser slosh down your throat in your first effort to be a bad ass, its dark streets perfect for making out with that dreamy guy on a Saturday night, its own dive bar when you first started drinking (always before we were 21, but they didn't card back then) and that crazy ole lady who'd call the cops if you so much as sneezed outside her house past 7:30pm.

As this tumultuous year nears its end, I find myself thinking back to those simpler times. When deciding whether to change into your sweatpants for gym class was worth the effort or if you'd chance getting marked "unprepared."

As I look at those sweet faces of my youth, I can't help but get nostalgic. Tis this season, I suppose. I think of family members who have passed on, the innocence I was in such a rush to get rid of and of all those lost chances. I let these memories wash over me, not pushing them away, but welcoming their visit. I know my own daughter will experience all these things for herself in due course and I hope the innocence will be cherished on her part, I hope the chances will not taken for granted and the rush of a first beer/kiss/ride in the cool guy's car will always be remembered. The craziness and anger that is my life now will one day be in the past and when it creeps up on me, I'll remember this time in my life for what it taught me about patience, my inner peace and for fighting for what I believed in. And I will be proud of the way I handled myself.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Good for the Soul

I've been looking for articles on inexpensive (read: cheap, and even better, free) ways to reduce stress.

I don't really take baths, I can't afford a spa weekend and don't own a vacation home. So that leaves, ummmm, well, really what does it leave?

Well, I'll tell ya! It leaves laughter!

My friends and I all met at the diner that was the backdrop of our childhood and adolescence. The Kings Plaza Diner (KPD) is closing at the end of the month and we all decided to have a mini-reunion. There were 13 of us, including the 14 month old son of a friend. (Sidenote: this little boy is just too freakin' cute!!) Anyway, there were burgers (some with cheese, some without and one veggie burger), about 24,000 french fries, buckets of brown gravy (KPD's gravy tastes EXACTLY the same as it did when I tasted it when I was 14) and about a million laughs.

Oh heavens, did we laugh!! We reminisced about the old neighborhood, friends who couldn't join us, the weird stunts we pulled when we were fearless teenagers and the chocolate covered cheesecake.  The coffee still tastes the same and no matter which waitress we get, they never seem to bring enough half-and-half.

We're all parents now, we all have a few gray hairs (ok, a LOT of grays), we all have households that need out attention, and jobs that don't allow us to get together as often as we'd like.

I'm thankful for this group. With all the mental and emotional chaos that's been going on right now, I needed this night more than ever. I needed to laugh. I needed to be accepted for who I am.

We took pictures of the fries with melted cheese and we stole a menu. A friend who lives in North Carolina will get that. He couldn't drive 12 hours just for a cheeseburger deluxe, but he was with us in spirit.

Now, it's the end of an era.

The KPD is closing by the end of the month. Not to sound all corny and shit, but it really will live on in our hearts and memories together. When I couldn't agree with my mother about anything, we could agree on eating at the KPD. I went there to eat and drink coffee with just about everyone I've ever loved.

As we all split up to go to our separate cars, we promised to get together again soon. Maybe for a little pre-Christmas celebration. Maybe in the depths of January when there's not much to do.

Whatever we do, we'll have to find a new place to meet. It'll be ok. We're all aware that many things change, but this one thing made us all so nostalgic that we really wish that it could be one of those things that never change.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ok, No More Negativity

My new goal is to remain positive as much as I can.

I was on the phone with my 86 year old grandmother yesterday. This woman was raised on a farm in the South during the Great Depression, met and married my grandfather, converted religions, bore and raised her children in New York City (far from her own family), and lived a sometimes difficult life. Now, she is in the twilight years and she's made peace with all that has happened to her. She's still a force to be reckoned with, and loves to spend time with her family. She understands her limitations and isn't afraid to show her fears. She's intensely devout in her religion and still finds ways to laugh every day.

When I was telling her about the issues I'm facing right now, my grandmother told she'd start praying very very hard for a positive outcome. She wisely told me that although I might not get everything I want, I will always have what I need.

I realized that after everything my grandmother had been through, the lesson is simple: Pray for what you need, not for what you want.

Case in point: I was looking for some very important paperwork last night and I just couldn't find it. I even asked The Kid to help me look, that's how desperate I was. I prayed to God and to St. Anthony (patron saint of all things lost), asking for help. I wandered from room to room, doing the calculations about how much money it would cost to replace this paperwork. Then, I walked into my kitchen and there it was, staring at me, laughing its head off, pointing out my "blindness."

I needed that paperwork for today and I prayed. And then, God and St. Anthony delivered. 

I have been incredibly blessed in my life and the only way to honor those blessings is to smile, remain positive and pray for what I need. Once I have all that I need, what I want will fall into place.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Few Inalienable Truths

Now what kind of an attitude is that, these things happen? They only happen because this whole country is just full of people, who when these things happen, they just say these things happen, and that's why they happen! We gotta have control of what happens to us.

This is  a quote by a character played by Ethel Merman in It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. I swear, I crack up EVERY SINGLE TIME I watch that movie.

But, this post is not about laughing or movies or fun.

I'm usually not a person who just lets things happen. I try to remain pro-active and positive. I do unto others as I would like done unto me. I respect everyone until I'm given a reason not to respect them. I try not to judge others. I try to plan ahead: packing lunches the night before, starting Christmas shopping in September or October, buying clothing on clearance to wear the following year. I try not to just LET THINGS HAPPEN.

There is someone in my life who never acts, this person only reacts. And this person always reacts badly. This person always looks like an idiot and when this person tries to do the right thing, there is failure, in epic proportions.

I thought I was going to be able to reason with this person, but alas, this is not ordinary person...this is someone who is so spiteful and so angry and so bitter that cutting off the nose to spite the face seems like a logical idea. What this idiot doesn't seem to understand is that tickling sleeping dragons is NEVER a good idea. That's a lyrical way of explaining that pissing off someone who has dealt with a lot of BS is stupid. At some point, the dragon will wake up and be really really angry. Sometimes the status quo is supposed to be just that, the status quo.

I've made some pretty tough decisions lately. I've had the help and support of my family and friends but in the end, I am responsible for these decisions.

I, like the United States, have a few inalienable truths. Here are a few:

  • I hate be questioned about things of which I am sure. Just save us all some time and energy and believe me when I tell you that all's quiet on all fronts.
  • I am willing to help anyone who is willing to help him/herself.
  • I like to not keep my expectations too high; that way, I am always pleasantly surprised. This truth has served me well in the past and will probably continue to work for me.
  • I have the weirdest, the most understanding and the most loyal family on the planet
  • I believe in the power of prayer; I've seen miracles that can only be attributed to answered prayers.
I am a dragon. So, if you see me sleeping, leave me the hell alone. I tell you this for your own good, not mine.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Working It Out

I'm in the middle of some ugly emotional chaos and I have to keep it together in front of a very intuitive 8 year old. The kid seems to know when I'm sad or in turmoil and responds by getting cuddly or letting me nap or refilling my water bottle for me.

She senses what others feel. For example, my mom had MAJOR dental surgery last week and when we got home, the kid went to get her Grandma an afghan to keep her warm and offered to rub her feet. So, it's hard to keep things from her. You don't have to verbalize what you're feeling, because she feels it too.

The emotional crap I'm wading through has to do with her father, my ex-husband.

He seems hell-bent on making things as difficult as possible, not just for me, but for the kid. That's what really gets to me the most. He never learned that the biggest part of being a parent is accepting that nothing will ever be just about's ALWAYS about the kid.

I learned that lesson the moment they put her in my arms. I knew that nothing would ever be the same. Nothing would ever be straight-forward. Nothing would ever be all about me ever again.

I'm trying to do the right thing and work it out, be the better person. It's hard to try to do the right thing and be the better person when I'm already sure that I've done the right thing all along and that I am the better parent.

But I get credit for at least trying to work it out, right?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Park It...

When I adopted/rescued my standard poodle, Rosie, she was so traumatized that she wouldn't leave her kennel/crate. I let her eat in there for a few weeks, then gradually moved her dish toward the kitchen, about a foot a week. For a few weeks, she ate in the middle of the living room floor, but eventually, she got her own corner of the kitchen and she was OK.

I should interject here for a minute to tell you that Rosie was named Gracie when I got her, but the kid decided she liked Rosie better. Rosie and Gracie end in the same sound and the transition was seamless.

So, back to my story.

It took MONTHS, I mean at least 3 WHOLE MONTHS, for her to let my father pet her. We deduced that she was afraid of tall men. Rosie was most definitely neglected, but rather quickly it became apparent that she was abused too. Rosie quivered and leaked droplets of urine all over the place whenever my father came into the room. Dad's over 6 feet tall and I guess her former owner, if you could call him that, was tall too. Once she calmed down enough, they went on their nightly jaunts around the block.

I had a trainer come to my house to help a bit. We taught Rosie to lie down, to wait, to "go get it," meaning her toys. If we said, "GrandmaGrandpa," she stopped in front of my parents' door. She's totally house-trained. But we couldn't get her to sit.

You'd put a treat near her face, to attempt her back into a sitting position, and she'd turn her head. You'd attempt it again and you could actually see the dark clouds swoop into her eyes and she get up and walk away to a quiet corner and lie down, staring at you in fear.

That was April of 2009.

In the meantime, we tried to get her to allow being touched by strangers. It took 16 months before she'd let a stranger on the street touch her. Before that, a neighbor would hold their hand out and she recoil in fear and hide behind me. Finally, she let someone touch her and I swear, I cried and I told the man what a break-through it was to have her let him scratch her chin. He didn't seem impressed because when he stopped scratching her ears to talk to me about it, she nudged him for some more scratches.

We still were trying new methods for sitting. Then, in about November of 2009, we changed the name of the command. We asked her to "park it." We'd tap her rump, hold a treat and still she wouldn't do it. You could almost see her brain figuring out what we wanted her to do and she'd rebel against it. The dark clouds would return. My otherwise happy, well-adjusted pet would quiver in fear again.

I knew we just needed to be patient with her and wait for the breakthrough.

Well, it happened yesterday, 10 months of asking her to "park it" later, she finally parked it! I tapped her rump and said the command while we were sitting outside and she did it! I only had to ask her once! She parked it! Finally! I wonder who many exclamation points I need to help get my point across!


She did it for me and then for the kid!

And honestly, Rosie looked so damned pleased with herself. She finally realized that we're not going to hurt her and we're not going to let anyone else hurt her either.

I've always said that having a dog love and trust you is one of life's most beautiful experiences. And now that fact is proven to me yet again. Rosie came into our lives when we needed a little hope, something else to focus on once the pain of the divorce was truly over. Rosie quickly became the kid's favorite playmate and my secret-keeper. Many nights, certainly more than I'm ready to admit to, Rosie's neck was wet with my tears of exhaustion and loneliness. Then she'd cuddle up next to my bed (or on the bathroom floor when it go too hot to lie on the carpet) and she'd send me the signal that it's OK to trust, that things always improve when it's least expected.

Isn't it amazing that I had to learn one of life's most valuable lessons from a dog?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

They're Coming Out Of The Woodwork...

My ex-boyfriends, that's what's coming out of the woodwork. I wish winning lottery tickets were coming out of the woodwork, but alas, I don't have that kind of luck.

About 3 weeks ago, I was in Dunkin Donuts, buying myself a Strawberry Coolatta (ahhh, icy liquid candy, that stuff is!!) and I had my sunglasses on. Thank heavens, because when I turned around away from the counter, I saw A, the first of my 2 boyfriends that I had when I was in college. This is not a person I want to see, so I pretended not to see A. Yeah, I know it was immature, but then again, I did have a Coolatta in my hand, so I couldn't necessarily be seen as mature.

A wasn't a bad guy, just not the one for me. He was 7 years older than I was, with a shady past. He served hard time, but I won't go into details about what. He was ready to get married. I know this because I heard him tell one of his friends, "Well, since she's an only child, her parents will pay for the wedding, so I guess that means I'll have to pay for the engagement party."


Not cool. I moved on. And never regretted it...not ever, not once.

Then: Last Thursday, I'm driving home from my mother's retirement party and as I happened to glance to the side, there he was, T, the 2nd of my college boyfriends. The one who showed me that men really can love women. The one I fell for waaaaaay before he fell for me. The one that when my mother found out we broke up, she was so freakin' angry. Honestly, the woman still hasn't forgiven me.

T was also a lot older than me, 6 years. He was getting serious and I was only 21. I didn't know what "getting serious" really meant. I broke T's heart...and broke my own in the process. Many years later, about 2 years ago in fact, I wondered what it would have been like being married to T instead of to the Ex. Very different. Difficult, sure, I'm a strong believer in the fact that all marriages are difficult. But I think I would have been happier. But, of course, I'll never know.

We talked for the length of a red light. He said he wasn't on Facebook so I told him to join so we could talk. It's been 5 days and so far, no T.

Wait, folks, it gets better.

Friday, I ran into P, the one person with whom I've had a relationship since my divorce. I was paying for a sandwich and he got in line behind me. I nearly passed out when I saw him. Not because I missed him or even because I got nostalgic. It was because in the 18 months since we broke up, P lost a tooth. One of the front teeth. I mean, seriously. I'm a little fanatical about oral hygiene, but since I've only recently gotten over my deep-seeded fear of the dentist, I can totally understand the fear. But, as a 30-something, one should not be losing teeth; one should be doing whatever it takes to keep the teeth you have healthy. And if you do have the misfortune to lose one, particularly one in the front, get the damn thing replaced.

He asked me out 4 times in 10 minutes and finally I just had to walk away from him. I'm usually not in the business of calling men pathetic, but P's behavior was just that. We broke up because he had a ridiculously twisted co-dependence with his ex-wife. I want someone in my life who has his priorities in the right places: Children first, then the rest of his family, then me, then, in a distant 20th or 30th place, the needs and wants of an ex-spouse. Since his ex came before me, I took a hike. P's been trying to fix that mistake for 18 months. I just can't. There's that saying...Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. I'm not going to be fooled by that fool twice.

Seeing these 3 men in such a small period of time makes me wonder if the universe is trying to send me a sign or a message. Honestly, my mind and emotions are so scrambled right now, I couldn't see a sign or read a message if it were handed to me in plain English. There is so much going on in my life right now; both good and bad.

There are soccer games, birthday parties, all-day visits to friends' houses, movies to watch, books to read, cuddles to share and a really cool dog to walk. I enjoy seeing my friends get what they want and I know they will rejoice when they see me get what I want. There's also lots of ugly and nasty stuff going on, but I'm choosing to find and focus on the joy.

These 3 men and all others will have to wait a bit longer to be acknowledged. A dear friend of mine is on a 90 day Man Diet. My Man Diet has been going on for almost 2 years now. I miss being touched, being held, the passion, the soaring heat, the comfort...but now is not the time for me. That's the only message I've gotten lately that's coming in loud and clear, so that's the one I've got to bank on.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

5 Things I Eat When I'm Alone

Since I started blogging way back when, I've come to 2 very important and not at all related conclusions.

One is that I like blog entries that are actually lists. I REALLY like lists. They make my world make sense. I like things in numbered order and honestly, when it's a to-do list, I get a high-inducing adrenaline rush from tearing the sheet of paper with the list, balling it up and doing a basketball-type slam dunk in the kitchen garbage.

The other thing I've learned is that I use other people's ideas. I guess I've run out of ideas, so I blatantly steal them from others.

This entry's idea came from Melissa Clark.

So, here it goes...5 Things I Eat When I'm Alone

1- Chicken Parm. When my daughter is at her father's for an overnight visit or having a sleepover at her friend's house, I go to Nino's and get a chicken parm plate, complete with a little wedge of Italian bread and a wax envelope with a plastic fork and knife, salt, pepper and a small packet of grated Parmesan cheese. That Parmesan is different from this Parm. Parm is short for parmigiana...which is translated from the Italian to mean "lovingly smothered in marinara sauce and with divinely melted mozzarella on top." Anyway, the kid rarely eats anything in sauce and I get 3 meals out of a dinner from Nino's but if she ever gets the urge to try "pizza chicken" again, there are always leftovers in the fridge.

2- BLT's from the bagel store around the corner from my house. There are 2 bagel stores near where I live; one is great for egg sammies and cold cuts, but the other is great for BLT's. The bagels from the latter are more like rolls with a hole in the middle, so sandwiches aren't so messy to eat. I always get my BLT's on a toasted everything bagel. I bring a book with me and sit in a stool by the window and eat. I usually only read about 3 pages when I decide that I can stare out the window and relax and eat my sandwich without any interruptions.

3- Margaritas in the bathtub. Yes, I'm fully aware that margaritas aren't food, per se, but I only have them at home if I'm alone. I take a book (noticing a trend here?), lounge in a warm/cool bath (it all depends on the weather) and sip my margarita and just chill out. I usually don't read much in the tub; I've always been afraid of dropping a beloved book into the water. Anyway, margaritas never taste better than when you're naked...ummm...well, as I recall, they taste great when you're naked with a lover...but that's material for another post altogether.

4- This potato thing I made up. I thinly slice up some potatoes (red bliss, Yukon, whatever's in the house) and some onion. I brown some garlic in a pan and then add the potatoes and onions and toss 'em all up. Then I add whatever seasonings I have and that I like. Salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, chili powder, basil, parsley...whatever's in the cabinet. Cover the pan and let the steam cook the potatoes. Once the potatoes are soft, leave the cover off and let everything get all crispy and let the flavors blend. This dish never comes out the same way twice, but it's always satisfying. Sometimes I make some eggs to have with them, sometimes I'll just have a salad with them...but man, them taters are goooo-oood!!!

5- Lucky Charms. I LOVE Lucky Charms cereal! The kid doesn't like the marshmallows (I know, I think I should have her tested too) so they're mine, ALL MINE!! I don't share them with anyone. No one in my inner circle likes them and even if they did, they couldn't find them because I hide the box in the back of the pantry. I try to make sure that I get at least one marshmallow in every bite or it hardly seems worth eating. The milk MUST be ice cold and I eat it really fast because I hate soggy cereal.

So, there you have it folks, me and all of my food-related eccentricities.

What are the secret foods you only eat when you're alone?

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Power of Prayer

I'm praying like the Dickens today.

A dear online friend is battling for her life. In March, she was diagnosed with breast cancer after feeling a lump during a self exam. She and her doctors immediately began planning her treatment. She went through chemotherapy but it didn't work.

Not discouraged, she went back the planning stage and began a new round of treatment, but it was discovered that she had tumors growing in the lungs.

Now, it seems that she has a brain tumor that has been deemed inoperable.

My heart is breaking for S. She has a toddler who many never get the chance to know how rockin' his mama really is. She's got a husband who is so devoted to her, it's probably best described by Janet (Chandler Bing's irritating ex-girlfriend from the sitcom Friends) who once said, "What we have is movie love, we're what Lionel Ritchie's been singing about."

They say the power of prayer is a very VERY powerful force. Man, I hope so. I feel sorry for all those damned cancer cells. They have the power of about 812 bajillion prayers to contend with today. S is not going to go without a fight and we won't let her go with doing the only thing we can.

So if you believe in the power of prayer, please PLEASE, pray for S...she could really use it.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Simple Weekend

I had such a simple weekend.

My daughter had 2 little girlfriends for a sleepover on Friday. These 2 gals are sisters and are just too sweet. They're well behaved and the older one and my daughter have known one another since their early day care days.

They decorated t-shirts with fabric markers, watched movies, ate pizza (but not the crust) and then all four of us cuddled up on the couch like a litter of newborn puppies to watch Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. On a side-note, the movie simply never gets old. When the Sorting Hat speaks for the first time, I always long for an admissions letter to Hogwarts; it doesn't matter that I'm no longer 11 and can't be accepted or that I'm 100% Muggle, I still want to go!

Anyway, on Saturday morning, we all walked the dog at 6am and then we all went to the library. The gals were noticeably upset when they were dropped off at home, but I promised we could do it again soon.

The day ran a muck with errands. We needed to get the car washed, we bought the dog a new collar, we had lunch in a restaurant that I started eating in when I was 6 years old and then we just took a nice drive with the windows rolled down.

Sunday dawned bright and we decided to head to the beach. I packed up some sunscreen, a few cold drinks, my beach chair and then wiggled my way into my new green tankini. I got what FRU and I call "rock star parking." That's when you find a fabulous parking spot mere steps from your destination. FRU frolicked around at the water's edge and quickly made friends with a little girl who was playing just a few feet away. The sky turned overcast just a hour or so later so we dashed to the car, just making it before the deluge hit.

We ate a late breakfast at McDonald's and I showed FRU the house where I grew up. We went home, showered and simply hung out all afternoon.

Sometimes a weekend doesn't have to be crammed full of activities in order to be deemed great. Sometimes just hanging out with a cool kid is enough (you get extra points is your are the parent of the aforementioned cool kid). Sometimes reminiscing about the old neighborhood and your childhood is enough. Sometimes it's knowing that the simplicities of life need to be recognized and enjoyed is enough.

There are times when I struggle to put one foot in front of the other, but these last few uncomplicated days were just what the doctor ordered. And as I was tucking FRU into bed last night, I asked what her favorite part of the weekend was and she replied, "The whole thing, because I was with you the whole time."

And that, my friends, is simplicity at its best.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ask BB... or Tag, You're It

I swiped this from my friend Jaxie, who is quite a bit younger than me, but is such an old soul, and a kindred spirit.

1) What is your personal style like? I've blogged about my obsession with make-up, but somehow, I don't think that this is what this question is about. I wear lots of jeans; man, how I wish I could wear them everyday. I work in an office, so I'm business casual when I'm at work. Brooklyn (and most of the Eastern seaboard of the US) is in a cycle of HOT and HUMID right now so I've been wearing little smock dresses and sandals or white khakis and a tank/cardigan sweater set combo most of the time. On the weekends, I wear Bermuda shorts (sure, they're stylish but to be honest, they cover up my one-day-shy-of-40-year-old thighs) and a cotton tank top. I do adore the cooler/colder weather though. I love sweaters, boots (both super casual Uggs and my knee high leathers) all brought together by the perfect pair of jeans. See, I'm back to jeans again.

2) How did you meet your best friend? I have several besties that fit in different categories. I met M on the first day of first grade. We lost touch after high school; big girl jobs do get in the way of having a proper social life sometimes. We reconnected on Facebook and when we got on the phone for the first time in over 10 years, an hour and a half flew by *SNAP* just like that. I met L at summer camp. We were summer sisters for about 5 years. She's living out in Colorado and when I see photos of her son, I see that mischievous grin that L wore all those years ago when we were out and about, running around camp after lights out. I met A when she looked at the apartment on the first floor of my parents' house. It was so fabulous to have your bestie in the same house. We used to have breakfast together on weekend mornings and we didn't even need to get out of our jammies to do it.

3) Describe your family. I come from a long line of crazy people. There was an episode of Designing Women where the character of Julia Sugarbaker explained that in the South, people didn't hide their crazy relatives up in the attic or down in the basement; they kept them crazy people right there in the living room or in the parlor. That's my family. Some are really mentally ill and some are just eccentric. Regardless, they always make the holidays interesting and the added bonus is that they make me look really really normal. We all eat too much, we laugh too loud, we argue politics ad nauseum, but we're fiercely loyal and have been known to make ice cream from scratch in an old-fashioned churner.

4) What's been the best day of your life so far? That distinction goes to the day my daughter was born. I gave birth via c-section on a Friday evening (and it was the 13th, insert evil laugh here) and I didn't actually hold FRU until the next day at about 12 noon. The nurse put her in my arms and time stopped for a bit. I held FRU's little finger and gazed upon FRU's little face and actually felt my heart grow. I knew at that moment that life would never be the same and I was so right.

5) What are you afraid of? Snakes. I don't know why exactly, it's not like Brooklyn has a large native snake population. But I look at a snake and I get the chills (not the good kind) and gag. I can't help it. I know snakes are one of God's creatures, but if they could stay hidden, I'd really appreciate it.

6) Cocktail of choice? Ooooo, I love this question! I love Captain Morgan and Coke Zero, a good margarita (rocks, no salt), Absolut Brooklyn and ginger ale and a ice cold Italian Pinot Grigio or California Chardonnay. Not all at once though, that would definitely NOT be pretty.

7) Favorite movie and why? My all-time favorite movie is West Side Story. It's the musical version of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet made in 1961. It's the only movie to have 2 winners for Best Director. It's a combination of music, lyrics, joy, pain, anger and when you add Rita Moreno's Anita's purple dress that she wears to the dance, it makes things perfect.

8) If your life had a soundtrack, what are 5 songs that would be on it and when would they play? Scenes from an Italian Restaurant by Billy Joel because this song is just fabulous, Smile by Lily Allen because it reminds me of the trips with my girlfriends, Amazing Grace, the old southern hymn because it reminds me of my mother, Running on Empty by Jackson Browne because it reminds me of my father and Thank Heavens for Little Girls from the Gigi soundtrack because I used to sing this to FRU to put her to sleep.

9) Favorite book? Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry. It is THE quintessential Great American novel. Nuff said.

10) Favorite TV show? True Blood. I don't watch a lot of TV anymore, but I never miss an episode of TB. It's part fantasy, part thriller and part history and part soap opera.

11) Quotes you live by? "...for nature gives to every time and reason, some beauties of its own..." by Charles Dickens.

12) If you could have a dinner party with any 5 people, dead or alive, who would they be? My grandmothers, my daughter, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Gregory Peck. Legal disclaimer: this list is subject to change.

13) Pet peeves? Purposeful stupidity, arrogance, those with lots of money showing off to those who don't, people being famous for infamous things (eg: Paris Hilton and all of the Kardashians), drivers who don't get out of my way when I want them to, people who don't return calls/texts, and tomato sauce with sugar in it.

14) Have any pets? I have an almost 3 y/o standard poodle named Rosie nee Gracie. I rescued her a year and a half ago and still rush home to see her. If you've never had a dog, you don't understand the pure joy that exudes when his/her master comes home. It's like Christmas, your birthday and Easter, all at once, every single day.

15) If you could change any one thing about yourself, what would it be? I've learned over the years to not live in the past, wish I had better hair or expect to be treated the same way I treat others. Life is meant to be lived. The good, the bad and the ugly will all make their presence known when the time is right. I don't think I'd change all that much. Well, maybe I'd have better hair.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Things I Am Obsessed With...

I got this idea from another blog, but that writer's whole blog is about obsessions and I'm going to write about obsessions once. Well, maybe twice, but I promise to not write about obsessions until I'm over the things with which I'm currently obsessed, deal?

1- Books. I can't seem to stop buying books. My mom is a librarian so let's face it, this is a hard habit to justify. But hey, I only buy them with they're on the clearance tables, which is how I came to be in the possession of some really REALLY weird books. Ya know what, I'm not even going to try to justify this. I like books, just deal with it, k?

2- Mineral Makeup. I have horrible skin (and for those of you who have read old posts, I still occasionally break out with cystic acne) and the mineral makeup really helps stem the amount of crap that seeps into my pores on a daily basis. I have a few colors for when I'm pale and for when I'm tan. I think maybe I just really like the feeling of those fluffy brushes on my face.

3- Who Am I Kidding, I'm Obsessed With All Makeup. No really, I am. I ain't gonna try to justify this either.

4- Lindsay Lohan's Dying Career. She's like a car wreck, I can't help but gawk and point her ridiculousness out to others. How did such a promising talent get to the point where she had "Fuck You" painted on her middle finger for a court appearance?

5- The Duggars. OMG, seriously, Jim Bob/Bobby Earl or whatever your name is, you NEED to wear a condom occasionally. Don't hand me this line of crap about waiting until God has declared your quota. There's no way two parents can nurture the amount of children is takes to fill TWO baseball teams and it isn't the job of the older ones to take care of the little ones. Maybe Jim Bob/Bobby Earl or whatever his name is and his lovely wife with the badly grown out mullet are trying to not make up a sports team, but they're going for filling an ENTIRE stadium with their spawn.

6- My Mother's Retirement. Seriously, without exaggeration, we started talking about when my mother was going to retire in 1996. I think (fingers and toes are firmly crossed) the time has finally come. The only problem is that we don't have anything else to talk about. I guess we'll have to discuss our inner feelings or some lame shit like that.

7- Always Having Iced Coffee In The Fridge. I MUST have coffee and a shower every day to function. Nothing I say or do can be admissible in court if I haven't had both. But NYC's in the middle of a raging heat wave. So, I brew up my coffee double strength and then ice it down to there's always so caffeinated goodness to be had. It ain't as good as a steaming cup of coffee, but once my mascara is applied, I don't want it melted off by drinking a hot beverage on a hot day.

I think I'll stop there. I tend to get on a kick with something and then obsess about it till I can't stand it anymore.

For example, I LOVED the Twilight saga so the natural progression is to read The Host, which is also by Stephenie Meyer. I loved the Twilight books. I don't think Ms. Meyer is a brilliant writer, per se, but she is a wonderful storyteller. So, I get The Host. Whoa, I think I 'm going to live to regret the time it's taking me to complete it. It's a sci-fi/romance (which is a weird combination) about a alien (though in the book they're called Souls) that is implanted in a human body, but the host's (thus the title) memories and personality aren't completely erased. So the host and the human love the same man, all while trying to prevent a) more souls from being put in hosts and b) more hosts being controlled by foreign souls.

Yeah, I have a headache too. But I'm happy (and slightly embarrassed) to have less than 100 pages left till I can chuck this dopey book across the room in disgust.

Maybe I gave you something to think about. Or maybe you're just thankful to not be weird with odd tastes in books.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

My First Post in About A Year...

I had an amazing experience last weekend and felt compelled to write. I guess it helped that I was with two friends who are both writers. So here it goes:.

Healing from Blue Eyes

Sometimes, I get so worn down that I just get used to it. It becomes my new “normal.” I go from task to task with no recollection of how or if I finished anything. Laundry gets washed folded and put away, groceries are purchased, beds get made…but there’s no joy or even conscious knowledge that these things are complete.

Then, one day, the sun shines again. This time, for me, it arrived the in the shape of Melissa and Jenee. These women are 2 of the Ya Ya group that I met through that online book club/message board 5 years ago. We met up in the home city of one of the group for 3 years running and then the recession hit, some of us got divorced, some of us moved…in other words, life got in the way.

Anyway, back to sunshine’s arrival. They rolled into town on a Wednesday night and time seemed to be suspended for 4 whole days. The clocks didn’t tick. The only sign that time was passing were the pictures Jenee took of the view from my porch. There was one with the sun shining and one with a risen moon.

You must understand one thing about Ya Ya’s. When they hug your body, they hug your soul too. You don’t want them to let you go because it feels good and honest and safe when they’re hugging you. You just know they will help you slay any dragons that have the audacity to show their faces at the party and then will pour you a cool cocktail and hand you a cool compress for your forehead.

And for me, on this trip, the fellow dragon slayers had blue eyes.

Jenee’s bright, almost turquoise, blues dance with mischief. They help you get the eccentricities of her family. They share her joy of her soulmate/husband and they share her sadness of being without children. They glow when she’s talking about her writing. They even cross a little when she’s had too much whiskey.

Melissa’s blues remind of that beloved pair of jeans that fit perfectly…you know, the ones that hug every curve. Her eyes had a sadness that I wish I could erase, but they are so so wise. They reflect her love of all things masculine. They giggle with you when you’re acting silly and they can absorb everything in a room in 3 seconds flat.

I hadn’t seen these women in about 3 years so we had lots to catch up on. Oh Dear Lord in Heaven, did we talk! We yapped every morning and into the afternoon before one of us said, “Ok, let’s get going before we spend the day in our jammies and switch from coffee to booze.” We talked about, and this list is by no means inclusive, food, kids, cocktails, men, dogs, cars, books, girlfriends, shopping, shoes, dresses, parents/families, simple pleasures, music, movies, Seinfeld, health issues, drug addicts in Union Square and coffee.

We sweat, we laughed till there were tears, there was one leg with a cigarette burn, there was drunk dialing to Atlanta, there were stinky subways, there were street feet, there were parking issues, there were what seemed like 18 wash clothes and 47 towels in my bathroom, we drank, we ate Nathan’s hot dogs and drank beers on the beach (the way nature intended), there were fireworks (both in my heart and in the sky), we met new Ya Ya’s, there was lots of Facebooking…in other words, there was lots of stuff that was good for my soul.

These women don’t judge me. They don’t make me feel bad for my bad choices, they celebrate my good choices. They were patient with my daughter when she was talking their ears off. They scratched and cuddled my dog. They took beautiful pictures.

They both had long drives home, but hopefully the bliss of the weekend carried them over the miles that now lie between us.

As I cleaned up after their departure, I was happy. I consciously finished the laundry, washed the dishes and did general straightening. I checked each task off my mental list of things-to-do. When all the chores were complete, I showered, sliced myself a tomato and poured EVOO and balsamic over it and ate it on my porch. I tried to imagine what that view of the bridge would be like for the person who has never seen it before. When I got into bed that night, I was so refreshingly sleepy, not out-of-my-mind bleary-eyed exhausted. I slept the sleep of the blissful. I held the laughter and the sistah-friends’ blue eyed love with me. And for the first time in a long time, even though I was alone, I wasn’t lonely.