Saturday, February 23, 2013
I’m not sure why he said that, and I didn’t even ask. I was just grateful he did. Father knows best, after all, plus he was a doctor, so that makes him doubly right in my book. And, frankly, I needed that hope to hang on to.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I had some incredibly wonderful events take place during this year of my life, first and foremost, the marriage of my daughter. I was also blessed to become editor of a corporate newsletter, a job I’d worked hard for. But with the good comes the bad, and I had to have surgery this past fall, a surgery that made me realize that not only am I not that young anymore, I’m not mortal either.
It’s all very shocking.
My younger daughter will soon be behind the wheel of an automobile, and my son, well, he’s not that far behind her. What started as a marathon has now ended in a sprint. I’m not sure where the miles went in between.
Just like my girlfriend and I swore in middle school that we’d never wear pants that weren’t tight around our ankles because bell bottom britches meant we were old, and we would never, ever be old. Fortunately, we loosened our standards in blue jeans as well as life.
I’m not sure what this age will bring. I’m not sure what the word “lucky” really means. I’m also not 100 percent sure Sarah’s dad really said that. A part of me thinks she fabricated that story just to cheer me up, in which case I know what lucky means.
Lucky means having a friend who would do such a thing. It also means having wonderful people in your life who care about you and make you feel, no matter your age, forever young.
Only sometimes it takes a few birthdays to realize it. In my case, 42 to be exact.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
As Robert Earl Keen sings:
It’s the little things, the little bitty things
Like the way that you remind me I’ve been growin’ soft.
It’s the little things, the itty bitty things
It’s the little things that BLEEP me off.
Perhaps you are starting a new job and need tips on how to get along, or perhaps you’ve been in your job a while and just can’t figure out why you don’t get asked to lunch on Fridays, we’ll look no further. I’ve compiled a list of things that just might help you become the most popular person on your aisle, heck, your floor even.
Here they are:
Never heat up leftover fish in the microwave. I love seafood, but not the smell of it for eight hours because that’s how long it takes to wear off, plus, face it, fish is never any good the next day. Just to clarify, cold tuna is fine but make sure you keep breath mints nearby.
Don’t make excessive small talk in the elevator. Saying hello and have a good day is gracious plenty. Asking “Is it cold enough for you? Is it hot enough for you? Is it windy enough for you?” is too much. Also, comments about what day of the week it is, for example, “I’m good for a Monday” or “It’s Tuesday, one day closer to the weekend” or “Happy hump day” or “ Two more days,” etc., falls under the “too much” category. On Fridays, however, this rule does not apply, and you may say anything you want about this day of the week.
Do not come to work sick. If you do, perhaps you should just keep it to yourself and not tell anyone about your stomach cramps and how many trips you’ve made to the bathroom.
Along those lines, do not over share the details of your recent stomach flu or your children’s recent stomach flu. In fact, don’t share medical details at all. If someone asks how you are feeling, say, “Great, thanks,” even if you spent the weekend in the ER with a gallbladder issue. Actually, make that especially if you spent the weekend in the ER with a gallbladder issue.
Do not blare music with explicit lyrics unless it’s the aforementioned song. That would be OK. Funny even.
Do not give up on reaching out to your co-workers. Continue to invite them to lunch, even if they say they are eating at their desks, and you see them in the cafeteria with a group. In fact, continue to be friendly even when they aren’t.
No matter what they do, continue to act with tolerance and patience while you keep a big smile on your face. It’s a little thing, and if it doesn’t work, at least it will bleep them off.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
I’ve also learned as a parent that I have to be very careful what threats I make because sometimes the follow-through hurts.
For example, ever get frustrated, unplug the television and yell, “That’s it! No more TV”?
It can make for some long rainy days, let me tell you. During one such week, I looked at my husband and asked, “Why are we punishing ourselves?”
Speaking of television, I watched a great episode of the show “The Middle” that addressed this topic. In it, the couple’s youngest child kept losing his coat. Frustrated, the father yelled, “That’s it! No more coats!”
I’ve been tempted to let mine go coatless until the first chilly day. And then I’m calling lost and found and driving all over town retracing our steps. Following through is hard to do – for most of us, that is.
I have a friend I’ll call Betty. Betty is by far the bravest person I know. When she makes a threat, she means it.
Heaven knows, she has mine.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
“You mean ‘Downton Abbey,’” he said.
I shook my head disgustedly, thinking it must be the English pronunciation that everyone knows but me. Later, when I looked it up, I learned, no, it’s spelled D-o-w-n-t-o-n Abbey. I had been reading it wrong for several months.
Sigh. Being behind the curve of what’s popular is nothing new to me. I’m reading “The Hunger Games,” if that tells you anything. And beneath my bed, I have a sizzling copy of “Fifty Shades of Grey” that I’ll get to whenever I’m grey at this rate.
I remember when the television show “Seinfield” was a huge hit. As always, I was one of the last to get on the bandwagon. I may have missed it altogether except my husband and I were invited to a Seinfield party.
“What a dumb idea! That show is about nothing. Are we going to sit around and watch a sitcom all evening?” I asked – loudly.
Usually the words I have to eat are the ones I say most often and the loudest, and this was no exception. After watching a few episodes, I was totally hooked and remain so today. Thank God for reruns.
My ignorance applies to movies as well. I have a friend who is on a quest to see all the films nominated for an Academy Award – a feat I really admire and should imitate, so I’ll be able to chime in around the water cooler.
On a recent day, my co-workers were discussing “Argo” and “Zero Dark Thirty” and a few other recently nominated movies.
“My son and I watched ‘Escape from Alcatraz’ over the weekend. It was great!” I said, in a desperate attempt not to be left out.
Suddenly, I was very cool and had everyone’s attention.
“Is there a new ‘Escape from Alcatraz’ out?” they asked.
I could tell by his face that I had reached an even lower level of un-coolness.
What’s a girl to do? I suppose I could cram and spend the weekend watching season one and two of “Downton Abby” on Netflix or I could get up early and read about the red room in “Fifty Shades of Grey” (see, I have a vague notion of what that is, so I’m not that unhip) or I could spend my nights in the theater catching up on all the movies I’ve missed the past year.
But, what I think I’ll do instead is the next time someone asks if I’ve seen something, I’ll simply say, “No, please tell me about it,” and actually listen to their answer. I have a feeling that will take me further in life than knowing the difference between “Downtown” and “Downton” – unless I’m asking for directions, that is.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
“So, it would be blind in a few years,” he observed. “And you were trying to adopt this dog? I didn’t know we needed another dog.”
“No, I wasn’t trying to adopt it. I was just petting it!” I said a bit too defensively.
I caught the kids exchanging glances.
“She wanted that dog,” my son said. “You should have seen how red her face got when the lady said she couldn’t have it.”
“She was a sweet dog. I was just asking questions about her. I only asked for the lady’s information to be polite, but then she asked if I kept our dog inside, and I said, ‘No, but he has a two-story dog house that used to be our kids’ playhouse.’ I told her he even had his own front porch,” I said. “She had already said she kept the poor dog in a crate all day.”
“The lady told her she would not let anyone adopt dogs who kept them outside. She said she wanted them to be a part of the family,” my son blurted.
At which time, I could feel my face growing hot again. I would defy anyone to say our dog is not part of the family. He is so much a part of the family that he seems to think he is actually human and not a giant 130-pound chocolate lab who resembles a bear.
I couldn’t imagine keeping him in a crate all day. The only time he goes in a crate is when we head to the lake, and he rides in one in the back of the truck. As soon as we start packing the truck, he gets excited knowing the journey will end with a dip in a lake and a chance to chase jet skies and ever elusive ducks. At the end of our trips, we open the crate door to allow him to wearily jump back in, exhausted and ready for the ride home.
I have never seen a problem with keeping dogs outside in nice fenced-in back yard, especially dogs who don’t have a home to begin with. I guess it was the way I was raised.
We lived down the street from the dump. This meant there was never a time in my life when we didn’t have dogs. Back then, people would simply drop off their unwanted animals, from puppies to – more often than not – dogs who’d reached old age. Spotted brown mutts who were too tired to be any fun anymore, dogs with half tails and half ears and fur that would cause most people to cringe -- these were the dogs I loved.
Only once did we find them. Someone had cruelly filled a trash bag with puppies. More often than that, the dogs found us.
I remember one day waking up to a thunder of noise. My sister and I rushed outside to see not one, not two, but four grown dogs running down the hill from the dump. They ended up in our yard, and we kept them all, as we did any other mutt who wandered our way.
Sunday, January 13, 2013
Only two more days to enter to win a $150 gift card to Country Outfitter. My daugther looooves her new pair (above), courtesy of Country Outfitter. Find all the details here. Good luck!
Friday, January 11, 2013
“Johnny said he knows karate,” my son said one day after school. “He’s only a brown belt. That’s not very good.”
“Um, you might want to take that seriously,” I said. “That’s one step away from a black belt, and you also better take purple belts or even orange belts seriously for that matter. Just take my word for it.”
At which point, my entire family turned to stare at me.
“You seem to know a lot about this,” my husband said.
“Well, I had a neighbor who knew karate – Lou Ann Delmonto,” I said. “And one day, I challenged her, and it did not go well.”
“You mean that skinny woman?” my husband asked. The day I met him he was actually at a table with that skinny woman, my childhood nemesis.
“Yes, and she was even skinnier as a girl,” I said, “but freakishly strong.”
By this point, my son was all ears.
“You mean she beat you up?” he asked.
“Well, no, not exactly,” I said, “but I do remember distinctly how her elbows, knees and feet hurt. She used a few karate moves on me.”
“Why did you challenge her?”
“Oh, she bragged all the time about doing karate,” I said, and she wore purple eye shadow when I wasn’t allowed to and had nice, tan skin year round in comparison to my ghastly pale complexion, I thought to myself. If I had thought a little harder, I would have added that she could also skate backwards.
“I remember that day distinctly because it was the day I got my swing set,” I said.
“You mean the one at Nana and Ben Daddy’s house?” my son asked.
“Yes, that very one,” I said.
He snickered and remarked how small it was, no offense.
“I was very proud to have a wooden swing set with a tire swing,” I said. I guess my pride was perhaps what gave me the courage to challenge Lou Ann.
“Did you end up in a ditch?” my son asked.
My daughter had once remarked that all my childhood stories ended in the ditch to which my son asked, “What’s a ditch?”
Kids these days.
“Was that the only fight you got into?” my very curious son asked.
“Well, there was another one with the boy next door,” I said. “He teased me about my bike over and over until I finally had enough and jumped off it (It didn’t have brakes, was rusted and came from the dumpster down the street), and the next thing I know, he and I were fighting in the ditch.”
“Did you win that one?” he asked.
I don’t recall if I did. I do recall wishing an adult would please come out and break us up. The 1970s was a different era. Adults did not interfere with kid business. Disputes were settled in the yard while adults went about the business of being adults. Play dates were not arranged. Your options consisted of whoever lived on your street. Lessons were learned the hard way as were trophies earned.
Our days were spent outdoors. If my sister and I stayed in, mom would assign chores, plus we didn’t have air conditioning, so it was not to our advantage. Our animals were loved deeply but lived outside. We ate dinner together every night at 5. Kids were never allowed to have steak or shrimp, and we’d never so much as seen a crab leg. Mom fried everything in lard that she kept in a jar in the cabinet. We didn’t have snacks that I can recall, other than ice cream at night. Summer days were long, and we were happy – when we weren’t fighting in the ditch, that is.
“Someday, son, I’ll tell you the rest of the story of me and Lou Ann Delmonto and the rest of my childhood gang,” I said, suddenly feeling nostalgic, “but for now, we’d better sign you for karate lessons, just in case.”
(Disclaimer: I would never endorse violence, and my son has learned by observation to do as I say not as I do.)