Monday, April 26, 2010

I'm Just Glad It Wasn't MY Birthday!

Over the weekend, I went into our basement storage room to look for a three-pronged plug. I never find what I’m looking for in there, but sometimes what I find instead is even better. I found two type-written sheets of paper containing a post for Elaine’s Wonderful World. This would have to be my very first post, because I wrote it twenty-one years ago!

Yesterday was my husband’s birthday. It started out like most days, with little warning as to what was ahead. After the daily mad rush to get the children out the door to catch the bus, my morning chores began. After making beds and cleaning the kitchen, I tackled the bathrooms. Little did I know, this would be the high point of my day.

Shortly before noon, my five-year-old walked in the door with a huge welt on her face and a reminder that school pictures were the next day. She had been bitten or stung, and as the day went on, my daughter’s cheek got bigger and bigger. Last year when she was due to have her picture taken at preschool, she developed a bad case of pink-eye. The day before we had our annual Christmas family portrait taken, she walked into a counter at a department store and got a fat lip. I think if we really love her, we should stop having her picture taken, and ensure her of a trouble-free life.

Things got worse when my nine-year-old came home. He had a schoolbag full of workbooks which needed to be finished before school the next day. When I questioned him about it, he blew up at me saying that he wasn’t ever going back to school and he wanted to run away. I told him that if there was a place where you never had to work, I would gladly run away with him. He gave me one of those “But, don't moms love to scrub toilets?” looks. We talked things over, and after much anger and tears (some his, some mine) I agreed to go in and talk with his teacher the next day.

Then, the birthday boy came home. He was in a good mood when he left that morning, after our daughter guessed his age to be sixteen. Wanting in on the fun, I asked her how old she thought I was. She said sixty-four. I didn’t even know she knew numbers that high. Daddy’s mood had deteriorated considerably. He had just heard that an airline had gone bankrupt and was cancelling all flights. This was the same airline which was supposed to fly us to Disney World in three weeks. In our twelve years of marriage, every vacation had been a disaster. I started feeling like this bankruptcy was our fault. Thousands of employees were losing their jobs because we booked our vacation with them.

My husband decided to go to the gym and work out, which was his only normal reaction to a birthday. He came home an hour later swearing off sweets, just as I finished icing his cake. So, in one day, my husband became a year older, our Florida trip was ruined before it began, my daughter looked like a hamster storing food in her cheek (soon to be immortalized on film) and my son gave me a chance to do something I rate right up there with going to the dentist—a parent-teacher conference. Add the fact that my kitchen sink got clogged because I wanted to make my husband…..

Hmm...I don’t know what I was making for my husband, because the third page was missing. Or maybe there never was one, because I had to get ready to go to my son’s school. We’ll never know. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post from the past!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It's Only Hair...

I am obsessed with hair. I know, it’s frivolous, superficial, shallow, and all those other words created to make me feel bad. But, I didn’t choose this, I was born with it. I was giving my Thumbelina a trim (which wasn’t easy with those safety scissors) at age six. I could braid before I was allowed to cross the street by myself. All of my Barbies were naked, but had killer hairdos. In high school I was convinced an ex-boyfriend came back to me because I had put blonde streaks in my hair. Hair was power.

Thanks to Dorothy Hamill and Farrah Fawcett, the nation finally sat up and took notice of hair. Dorothy’s cut was not an option for me, because I was convinced that with short hair, I would be mistaken for a boy. Plus, if I kept my hair long I could trim it myself. To say I didn’t trust anyone with my hair would be an understatement.

But, I fell in love with Rene Russo’s hair in The Thomas Crown Affair. I quickly made an appointment to get my hair cut before I chickened out. I showed up with my little photo ripped from a magazine, ready to believe that magic was going to happen. And, it would have to be magic because Rene Russo had thick, naturally curly, auburn-colored hair. My hair was blonde, stick-straight, and super fine. When I refer to my New Jersey roots, I am referring to my hair. I had to work hard to get my hair big enough for the standards of my state. It took time, and many appliances, and many products. The woman who cut my hair swore I would have the right volume to pull the look off.

When she was finished, and I saw the final cut, my heart hit the floor. In my mind I looked more like Pierce Brosnan than Renee Russo. That’s when my chant was born. It’s only hair, it's only hair. I managed to get home, where I shut myself in my bedroom. That was the beginning of three straight days of crying. You would have thought I had my limbs cut off the way I was acting. I know my wiring isn’t right, but changing my blood type would be easier than changing my obsession with my hair. It was only after I tried a dozen times to get my hair big again, that I felt it was enough like me to go back to work. My friends were great, giving me pep talks about how quickly it would grow back. And, it did.

And, like childbirth, the memory of the experience faded, and many, many years later I got another haircut-- this week. I’m not sure how the communication between me and the hair stylist broke down, because I have replayed it in my mind over and over again. Somehow, "I don’t want the sides cut because I am growing them out to match the back length" means cut the back to match the sides. Well, my hair is now shorter than it’s ever been. No amount of time or product can make it look big. I am trying to be mature. I am trying to make peace with this drowned-rat look. And now the chant, which hasn’t been necessary in a very long time--it’s only hair, it’s only hair. I wonder if Samson used the same chant…

Monday, April 12, 2010

Driving Miss Ditzy

I have a confession to make. I suffer from ADD. That’s right—Attention Deficit Driving. And, it’s inherited.

I’ll never forget the last time I went somewhere with my mother driving. We went to see a movie during the day, and on the way home (the theater was less than ten minutes away) SHE MISSED THE TURN INTO OUR NEIGHBORHOOD! The same neighborhood we moved into when I was six and she had lived in for thirty five years! When I pointed it out to her, she became very flustered and I thought she was going to make a U-turn on someone’s front lawn. I’ll never forget what she said. “Oh, it’s all your fault.” It’s true, I had been talking to her, but I didn’t know I had to choose between conversing or getting home.

Here’s the really disturbing thing—that face I made when my mother missed the turn—I have seen that on my own children. I hear that same tone in their voices when my daughter tells me I just ran over a cone or I’m entering an exit. But, instead of blaming my children for distracting me, I just pretend “I meant to run over that cone” or “good, now I am already familiar with the exit.” This frightens them even more.

The first time I knew I had a problem was when I was driving a girlfriend back from lunch to our office. We were stopped at a light, and the woman sitting in the car next to us was trying to get our attention. I gave her a smile and a wave while lowering the window. “Oh, I must know her from somewhere!” I told my friend. Eyes bulging, and mouth foaming, that woman let loose with a vicious stream of swear words, and from what I could decipher, she didn’t think I was a very good driver. And, I should rot in hell.

I would love to say that this was an isolated incident, but that would be a lie. Eventually, none of my friends would get in the car with me. And, I developed a complex. I finally figured out the problem one day, when I had driven home from work and could not recall if I had stopped at any of the lights. Here is what I did remember from the eight mile trip home:

The movie I wanted to see was no longer playing at the two dollar theater.

Gas was three cents cheaper at the station on the west side of the road.

Walgreens had Rogaine on sale.

The brick home with the green shutters was finally under contract.

The blonde in the silver convertible needed to touch up her roots.

The radio played the song that sounds like they’re saying “dressed up like a douche.”

The gas light came on several times indicating I should switch cars with my husband.

I used my cell phone to make an appointment for a manicure the next Saturday at eleven.

The Taco Bell reminded me I had a new recipe for an enchilada casserole I wanted to try.

Oh yeah, and a guy in a BMW flipped me off for no reason whatsoever.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Knows How to Cook...CHECK!

I know women who don’t cook. That statement used to give me heart palpitations. No one…I repeat…NO ONE…told me that not cooking was an option. When I was opening wedding presents and Aunt Eleanor gave us a set of mixing bowls, I didn’t sit there and say “Who is going to use these?”

I didn’t go to cooking school. My mother didn’t teach me how to cook. I cooked because my husband and I were hungry and we wanted to eat. Lord knows, he couldn’t cook. But little did I know, from that moment of cooking our very first meal, I WOULD BE COOKING FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE!

To be honest, there was a time when I thought there was something really wrong with these women. But NOW, I think they’re geniuses. What foresight! I was up at five in the morning making snickerdoodles for my daughter’s class, and these women were sleeping in and stopping at the grocery store for a package of Chips Ahoy! And, guess what? The kids didn’t care. And, the mommy who didn’t cook was showered and smartly dressed, and I had on a hat and a raincoat to cover up the evidence of a cinnamon explosion in my kitchen.

Many years later, as a divorced woman getting back into the dating scene, there was only one thing I wanted in a man. Can he cook? I didn’t care if he was unemployed, on parole, or grew up with the circus. I just wanted someone who could cook. I wasn’t expecting him to cook every meal, but I just wanted to know that if I broke both arms or suddenly went blind, we would not starve to death. I wanted the thirty year tradition of baking my own birthday cake to end…just once.

The sad thing is I didn’t warn my daughter. She would call up for a recipe, and my first thought was how proud my mom would have been that she is learning to cook. But, if I was truly a good mother, I would have told her to take every cookbook, toss them out the window, and replace them with take-out menus. Then SHE could be the smartly dressed mom with a paper plate of Oreos. Oh well, I did do her a favor, though…I never taught her how to sew.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Goals? No, I Said I Have Rolls!

I think of myself as an idea person. Not in the sense that I have ideas…I just like ideas. For instance:

I like the IDEA of going to the gym. Getting up at the crack of dawn. Throwing down a wheat-grass smoothie. Putting on the latest fitness-wear engineered by NASA for the astronauts. Slipping my feet into uber-expensive cross trainer shoes custom-made after having my run, walk, and stance analyzed by a computer.

But, the REALITY is I’m a sleep-late kind of person, who enjoys a cup of coffee and a bowl of Cocoa Puffs. My morning attire consists of a well-worn robe and half-chewed slippers. The only thing I have analyzed is my weight, but my scale is broken and says I weigh twenty pounds more than I know I do.

I like the IDEA of yoga. Cute little yoga pants. Sipping herbal tea and listening to New Age music on the way to the studio. Finding my Zen place, as I stretch my leg behind me, over my head, until my toes touch my navel.

But, the REALITY is I bought a beginning yoga DVD, couldn’t do any of the twenty pre-beginner positions, blamed the whole thing on not having yoga pants, which I would never wear because I look like a bratwurst in them. I pulled a muscle putting the DVD on the highest shelf of my closet, right between Pilates and Belly Dancing.

I like the IDEA of running in a marathon. Eating proteins. Training for months. Raising thousands of dollars for some worthy cause. Hearing my family and friends say “She is such a dynamo!”

But, the REALITY is the only running I do is chasing the dog when he has my slipper. One time when I had to unload some boxes from my car, I drove across my front lawn so I could back up three feet from the front door. I’m waiting for someone to invent a wallet on wheels.

So, as you see, I am an idea person. A friend of mine was telling me about a fitness camp she goes to. You learn about eating healthy. Go on hikes. It’s a great way to lose some weight, while having fun. We could go together. I told her “I LOVE that idea!”