Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Vice Squad

We all have our vices, those little quirks that have irritated us about ourselves for most of our lives. I bite my nails, tried to stop about a thousand times, couldn’t, moved on. I also twirl my hair, a lot.

I twirl when I’m talking,

I twirl when I’m walking,

I twirl when I’m thinking,

But not when I’m drinking.

I twirl when I drive,

When I’m watching TV,

I twirl most of the time,

It just makes me, me.

Ahhh… a generation raised on Dr. Seuss.

So we have these annoying habits and those closest to us are so used to them that the problems almost disappear. But add a new person into the group and the cute quirky habits immediately become fodder for the masses.

“Gee you really twirl that hair a lot.”

“Yeah, I have since childhood. My parents use to tell me I was so fidgety that it was the only thing that calmed me down.” I don’t tell them that I sucked my thumb until I was like eleven. (Hey maybe the twirling replaced the thumb sucking. A shrink would have a field day with that.)

“Come on try not doing it for like a half hour.”

Really, a challenge to stop the hair twirling? What am I twelve?

So, we’re sitting there playing some stupid domino game someone brought and the fingers of my left hand are taping on the table trying to concentrate on not twirling. I tap the tiles, I tap the glass of club soda and finally I put my hands together in front of me as if in prayer. I glance down at my hands and notice a little piece of nail calling out. I start to put the finger up towards my mouth when the newest member of the group and what I can only assume is some kind of control freak, lifts an eyebrow in my direction. Wait, I can’t twirl or bite?

I’ve rapidly come to the conclusion that this person may not fit in with the group.

“I don’t understand. Does my twirling somehow cause you harm? Do you have some underlying habits of your own that you’ve recently broken and are somewhat afraid I will cross you over into the bad place?”

“It’s just that you’re twirling, the motion, well it makes me lose my concentration.”

“So if I twirl you will play badly?” I smile, I like to win.

“Yes, I can’t concentrate.” The woman stated rather emphatically.

That’s right, I started twirling. Because after all, I am over fifty, I can do what I want.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I just got home from spending two weeks with my Mother in Ohio and I was, let’s just say, extremely surprised at the similar traits that have come to light as I get older. There are some major differences. If she sees a small branch from a tree laying in the front yard it will make her crazy if she can’t run out and pick it up immediately. God forbid if it’s raining and she has to wait until the storm abates to retrieve said limb. Imagine an hours’ worth of, “I wish I could get out there and get that branch,” as the storm rages. Me, I call it yard art and move on. Also I love autumn leaves in the yard. The red, yellow and orange foliage delicately wafting to the ground giving us a carpet of brilliance second only to Joseph’s coat. I use to wait until the last minute to sweep them away. But not Mom, she starts mowing them up with the first dropping and doesn’t stop until the last leaf is bagged and sent off to the city municipality where they will mulch it up to use in the parks.

There are other differences as well. I’m a night person. I love the night life I love to boogie…okay maybe not boogie, but I do love the quiet that comes after the sun has set and the young ones are all tucked into bed. When we were first married I would go to bed with my husband, wait until I heard the gentle breathing of sleep coming from his side of the bed and get up. I considered myself the late night marauder. I often would clean the house as there were no little ones under foot to shoo away from my necessary chores. Sometimes I would just get a book and read. It was my special quiet time. But my mother is inflicted with that disease I don’t understand, that of being a morning person. I have never understood this disorder. Getting up before the sun rises is just too far out of my range of understanding. When I visit I’m up late writing or reading while she sleeps. In the morning she’s usually had her coffee and run her daily errands before I pop my head out for coffee around eight.

But on this visit I noticed that when someone would ask us a question we would answer at the same time and more than once we answered the same way. Things that annoyed me seemed to annoy her. The similar mannerisms, the speech pattern, it was evident throughout the whole visit. I remembered someone saying, “You look just like your Mother but you act just like your Father.” Dad was the funny one, the one who always had a good time. But Mom is up for anything. “Want to drive to Amish country?” She’s in the car. “Want to do a tour of gardens in the village?” “When and where?” We’ve become friends looking for the next adventure. And really isn’t that what life is all about?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Oh, Honey. I Love it!

This week is my husband and I’s 31st wedding anniversary. Through all the years of good times and bad times, we overcame the adversities and worked through. All in all, it’s been a wonderful journey. There are just some things that you learn after being married this long. My wonderful husband when asked, simply states that he is just along for the Wendy ride. I think he means that I am the Lucy to his Ethel, his Hardy to my Laurel. I shudder to think of the times I’ve looked lovingly over in his direction with an uttered, “You know what might be a good idea?” Most of the time things worked out. There were a few disasters along the way, but those too made us stronger.

My husband is an amazing man, who I love dearly. He's generous and kind. He’s just not so great on the gift giving front. He’s great on those big occasions; a diamond tennis bracelet on the fifteenth and diamond earrings on the twentieth. One year, when he couldn't figure out what I wanted, he gave me pictures of items’ he thought I might want. A treadmill, a 35mm camera and I honestly can’t remember the third. To this day, whenever I have a birthday or anniversary or any other gift giving occasion the kids still ask, “What picture did you get this time?”

With that knowledge in the back of mind, I was shopping and I saw a necklace I’ve wanted that was on sale. I’m not into expensive jewelry so the fact that it was on sale for thirty-two dollars added to my excitement. I’ve wanted a silver watch necklace on a long chain to wear with my sweaters. So I had three choices:

A. Call the daughters and tell them where it is and have them run the idea past their Dad. (It’s worked before.)

B. Hint, Hint, Hint and hope that this time it takes. (This has never worked before, but you’re dealing with an eternal optimist.)

C. Do what works after 30 some years of marriage: buy it yourself.

I bought it. It was the last one and I knew A and B were just futile attempts to get exactly what I want.

Flash forward two days. Kirk and I are driving home from Costco and he’s telling me that the only day he could golf with his buddy next week on our vacation was Wednesday, our anniversary. My husband loves his golf. In fact, in order of importance I think it goes Golf, Dog, kids, Wife. He’s feeling a little guilty so it’s the perfect time to tell him about the gift. “Sounds like fun. By the way, do you want to know what you got me for my anniversary present?”

And my husband, that wonderful man who’s been by my side since we were sixteen, doesn’t miss a beat when he says, “Did I do well this year?”

I smile. “You did great!”

The smile I love crosses his face and he says, “Well, then. You’re welcome.”

Friday, November 26, 2010

I Blame Norman Rockwell

That’s right. I’m calling Norman Rockwell out.

He’s the man who painted the iconic pictures that told the world how families should look for the holidays. He showed them dressed in their Sunday best surrounded by extended family, all smiling as they sit around the Thanksgiving table while Grandpa cuts the turkey.

Don’t get me wrong, I love his paintings. But they do set everyone up for disappointment. Has anyone ever duplicated the scene in “Thanksgiving Day”?

I have memories of going to Grandpa and Grandma’s farm when I was young and everyone sitting around the table while Grandpa carved the turkey. And with my other Grandparents (we were a family that did the every other year thing) we did indeed dress in our Sunday best and cram into the formal dining room for Thanksgiving.

But in this day and age, we’re lucky if everyone can even make it home for the holidays. The world has become such a small place. Back in my youth, you were supposed to grow up, get married and move down the street. Now, I have friends who have kids that are teaching in Japan, working with the Peace Corps in Africa and basically spread across the continental United States. And with businesses open the Friday after Thanksgiving it gets harder and harder to get home for that one day.

My kids all work in the service industry and this year my son has to be at work at three a.m. for Black Friday. The youngest is a waitress and will be working a double on the day after and the middle child’s office is open and she needs to be there for her usual eight hours. I’ve planned dinner at one so they can all get to bed early. Last year, I had Thanksgiving on the Sunday before. It seemed easier for them all to take a whole day off and not be stressed, because for me Thanksgiving is about the family coming together more than the actual day. Not the forced making time, the juggling of the when and where, that causes the holiday to become a have too, not a want too.

Families have changed since that picture was painted. The image spoke to a time when the nuclear family, a mother, father and their children was the norm. Now families are made up of so many different and wonderful factions. If I could paint a Thanksgiving picture, it would be of a group of people, all sizes and shapes, all colors, all the many different parts that make up a modern family. They would be holding hands around the table, young and old alike celebrating just being together, just sharing in the moment. And isn’t that how it should be?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Not MY Drama Mama

I don’t remember my life being as filled with Drama as the kids today. Again it could be because I had three kids to take care of and a house to run by the time I was 27 so the only drama in my life came from the soap , Days of Our Lives. But it seems that every time I talk to one of my kids, or my friends tell me about their kids, there is always some kind of drama. It could be as simple as being slighted about a party invite or as important as a job change. I don’t remember calling my Mom or Dad about life changes, but it seems the generation we raised comes to us for guidance on so many issues.

The older I get the less I enjoy those moments. I worry that if I help them make a decision it will be the wrong one and I’ll feel guilty for my part. Now it could be that when I was twenty-two, my husband and I moved twelve hundred miles away from family and friends. We had only each other to depend on. There was no one to run to when we needed to make the big decisions. I don’t remember dwelling on decisions for too long. It was called life and one was just a passenger on the ride.

“What do you mean you’re pregnant?” One of life’s better surprises.

“What do you mean you overdrew the checking account?” So began the years of Wendy being banned from the checkbook.

“Why are the lights out? What do you mean you forgot to pay the bill?” Seriously the bill and check are lying right there but I was out of stamps.

“You shot a rod in your engine? How about putting oil in the car once in a while?”

One of my all time favorites, phone rings and I hear my husband’s voice on the phone, “Honey, I’m going to be a little late.”

I hear women screaming in the background, “It’s going to blow.”

“What’s going on?” I said, more than a little concerned by the screaming women.

“Your car is on fire in the parking lot.” My husband said, so matter-of-factly that the words didn’t match the situation


“Listen I got to go, the fire department’s here.” A dial tone starts buzzing an obvious sign he’s left me hanging to tend to more pressing matters.

I get the story later. My husband was driving my car that day as I took the good car to haul the kids for their annual Doctors appointment. He was driving home from work when the car started smoking, so he pulled in to a Denny’s parking lot. He went in to use the payphone, (again we were around before cells) and when he glanced around the restaurant, customers and staff alike were diving behind counters and under tables. One woman was pointing out the front window and when my husband turned he saw flames shooting out from under the hood of our car. Thus the phone call and visit from the fire dept. The car was totaled and the insurance company gave us twelve hundred dollars. We thought we were loaded until we starting looking for a new car. Let’s just say we were a one car family for quite a while.

During these trying times I came up with a policy I still live by today. If the problem is something I’ll still be dealing with in say a year, it’s a real problem. But on the other hand if it’s something that I won’t even remember in a year, then it needs to be tucked away nicely in that chest in the attic. There it will become one of those random stories we occasionally take out and tell to the children to prove that no matter how bad things get life goes on.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Yesterday, I was having lunch with my daughter and her boyfriend and he was talking about some pictures he’d sent to my phone. This brought up a typical discussion that I constantly have with my children dealing with technology. On my last phone trade in I got a phone that does it all. Text, TV, every app imaginable...but I only have phone service. I refuse to text. Let me repeat, I refuse to text. If you want to talk to me, call. I have seen my kid’s text for an hour making plans that could have been handled in two minutes with a phone call. I get it. An “I’m running late,” text is maybe, probably easier than a call, but I’m not buying into the game. It’s just one more way to distance people from each other. I only have the phone in the first place because:

a. My kids only have cells and I’m on their plan so they can call me for free, not using up those precious minutes.

b. As I said before we travel a lot and it gives them a chance to get in touch in case of emergency.

That’s it. No other reasons. I work at home so most of the time people can get me there. In fact, the battery on my phone is dead most of the time because I forget to charge it the minute I get home (Note: I just got up to plug it into the charger).

I suppose most of this technology is good. But it seems to distance us from the people who are most important. I cringe when I am walking through the grocery and a young mother is chatting away on her cell as her child is pulling on her sleeve saying, “Mom, Mom.” You’ve all seen it. Or you’re behind someone in line that is chatting away on the cell as they pay for their purchase. You catch the cashier’s eye and shrug. A knowing smile crosses her face. It’s become a way of life.

People are important. Taking a few minutes to shut down your phone and spend time talking to your child has to be the priority. I am so glad my kids were raised without the technology. They learned to interact with people face to face.

It’s the same with e-mail. How easy is it to say something mean in a message that you wouldn’t say face to face? It’s a somewhat cowardly way to hit and run.

I hope you don’t think that I’m some crotchety fifty something who has no use for technology. I use it every day. I research on line for my articles. I send out notifications to my writing group, I play Bejewled, (hey, it’s fun) and I chat on Facebook. It’s just not the first step I take when I need to find out information from a friend or loved one. I'll pick up the house phone, because I like to hear their voices, the inflections and intonations that are part of a wonderful conversation. Besides, the cell phone's dead and I don’t feel like booting up the computer.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What’s This or Where are the cookies?

My kids stop by at least once a week to check on the old folks. We are blessed with the fact that we would rather be with the three of them and their significant other’s than just about anybody else in the world. We try to all get together for dinner once a month, with game night after. Laughter reigns and memories are made in those long easy evenings.

I try to make a good meal as I know they are all busy with work and the day to day things that take up so much of our time. Usually it’s lasagna. Something easy I can make up early so I’m not in the kitchen all evening. But the last time they were here I was asked that question that I’m sure many an over fifty mom has gotten. “Where are the cookies?”

Yeah, they want to know where those wonderful snacks are. The ones you kept on the counter so they could grab and go during the school years. Where are the bowls with the chocolaty baked goods, the salty bags of chips and pretzels, the gummy bears, worms or juicy fruit’s and the fridge full of soda? Now, the bowls have nutrition bars with flax seed and protein. The fridge has bottles of cranberry juice, orange juice and low fat milk. In fact almost everything in the fridge has low fat emblazoned on the side. The pantry is empty of any and all salty snacks, replaced with cans of tuna, low sodium, low fat soups and granola.

“The almonds, walnut and cashew nuts drizzled in 85 percent cocoa dark chocolate are in the Tupperware right there.”

He reaches in and takes a bite. Running to the garbage can he spits the remnants of the chocolate morsels into the can. He rushes to the sink, turns on the faucet on and lets the water run into his mouth.

“Oh my god, how can you eat that”

“It takes some getting used to.”

“You use to have good snacks,” he grumbles.

“But if they’re here I’ll eat them.”

“Just use your will power.”

I have to laugh. “Will power?” I ask, “What’s that?”

My husband has willpower. One day he said, “I don’t think I’ll eat salt anymore.” That was it; he no longer salts his food. Then he said, “I think I’ll stop drinking soda.” That’s right no more soda. Not even when we go out for pizza or burgers. That’s just not right. Oh and instead of soda he drinks water. I don’t think he realizes how guilty I feel when we’re out for pizza and the waiter brings me a sixty-four ounce soda as he sips his small glass of water.

You would think I would use the I’m over fifty excuse and eat what I want, but somewhere in the deep recess of my mind is the notion that I do need to take care of myself, because I’m just staring to have fun. Those kids we raised, the ones who frustrated and annoyed us, the ones we ran after and picked up after, the ones we prayed for and fretted about. They turned out great and shouldn’t we reap the benefits a little while longer.

Besides, the healthy foods, well they grow on you.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Have you always been this young?

Okay, I get it, waiters, waitresses, aerobics instructors; all these professions are known for being held by younger people. My hair stylist is twenty-three. Most of my clothes and possibly make-up are older then her. (And I think I just threw out a tin of McCormick’s cinnamon that expired the year she was born). Whenever I have to deal with a person of younger stature I just think of them as one of my children. I talk to them the way I would talk to one of my kid’s friends. I think if everyone treated younger people in this fashion it would work wonderfully. However, I expect the same treatment in return. Well, maybe not to be treated like their mother, maybe their favorite older aunt.

The other day I was at the mall at a local department store looking for a white blouse. Easy right? A simple white blouse to wear with my dark jeans, I like the look, in fact I have pictures taken in this look since I was eighteen. So I walk into the store, to the ladies department and I locate the sales clerk who is leaning against the counter talking on her cell. The store phone rings and she hangs up from the cell to take the call with a, “Gotta go, the boss gets pissed if I miss a call”.

The young woman talks for a few moments, being sure not to make eye contact with me, then, “let me check,” puts the phone down and moves away possibly to check on a size in stock. When she returns carrying an item, she informs the person on the phone that yes she does have it in stock and yes she will hold it.

I’m standing there, waiting for the opportune time to ask about a shirt I saw advertised but can’t find.

Finally I have her attention.

“Excuse me; I’m looking for this shirt.” I show her the ad.

“I’m sorry ma’am, (Strike one) but those didn’t come in.” Large sigh, (you’re bothering me, strike two). “We have some on the other side that are comparable.” She looks down but doesn’t make a move to at least point me in the right direction.

“Could you please show me where they are?”

“Yeah sure.” (To the tone of I can’t be bothered but now you’ve put me on the spot.)

I follow her over to the section and she pulls out some white shirts. Then she says something that will set the tone of my day. “My mom loves this line of clothes.”

That’s it; I’ve been ignored, been ma’am and look like I wear mom clothes.

In my head I see the scenario as it should have gone.

I walk up to the counter, “Hello, how can I help you today?” Phone rings. “I’ll get that later, you’re here in the store now so I’ll help you first.”

“Thank you. I can’t seem to find this shirt.”

“I’m so sorry, those didn’t come in, but we have some that are pretty close on the other side. Follow me.”

She hands me the shirt. “This is one of MY favorite designers.”

“I’ll take two.”

I like my way better.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Recently, a friend talked me into taking a yoga class. I have a sister who goes to yoga every other day, and when we speak on the phone, at least once in the conversation, I get a sales pitch on how good yoga is for you. I get it-YOGA IS GOOD. So, my friend and I went. We put on our faded sweat suits and our grass stained sneakers and walked into the darkened room with soft melodic Indian music and chimes tinkling intermittently playing in the background. The walls were draped with brightly colored silk cloth and the incense that was burning on a small bamboo table at the back of the room reminded me of a smell reminiscent of college days.

“Okay, everybody, grab your mats and find a spot.”

Grab your mats. The confusion sets in. Luckily, there was a wonderfully helpful young woman who came to our rescue.

“If you don’t have a mat, they have some over in the corner for you to borrow.”

Great. We grab a couple, knowing full well that someone at sometime or other has probably sweat or drooled on said mat, and make our way to the back of the mirrored room. All the other participants are in these cute little t-back fitted tops with stretchy black yoga Capri’s. One woman is actually stretching by putting her foot behind her head.

Is this yoga or tryouts for the circus?

“You two in the back,” the instructor points in our direction. “Come up front. I like to keep my newbie’s where I can see them. It’ll help with getting the poses right.”

Poses? I’m perplexed, I’m not some model in a shoot for a magazine. I’m here to stretch and sweat.

So we move up front, not happy about the attention, and the slow rhythmic music begins to play. It’s obvious the members of this group have been at this for awhile and I can’t help but feel we are somehow holding them back as the instructor time and again makes his way over to pose us in the “correct” position.

“No, turn your foot out, like this. No, out.”

My friend, who has had knee surgery due to a skiing accident, informed the guy that her leg just doesn’t turn that way anymore. He sighs as he goes back to the front of the class.

“Okay, let’s try lying down on our backs and follow my direction.”

As I’m lying there my back starts to cramp up. I have always had back problems since I carried about a hundred extra pounds with my second child twenty-eight years ago. So, I’m lying there, on the ground and the cramp gets tighter and tighter. I roll to my side and sit up, stretching to reach the hard knot that’s forming in the lower part of my back threatening to make the journey north. I knead the knot while watching the others move through the rest of the floor exercises without hesitation. Even my friend is into this part of the workout. Finally the cool down. I can do this. Stretch, breath, stretch, breath. Yeah, finally I am one with the group. But then it’s over.

“You did really well for the first time,” the young woman that helped us out earlier with the mats says. I’m assuming she’s the plant in class to make the newbie’s feel welcome and keep them coming back.

“Thanks,” we offer. By now sweat is pouring down my strange shade of crimson face. My mascara has melted and formed a dark smudge that seems to have pooled under my eye. I notice that the other women in class appear as clean and fresh as they were before the session started, looking as if they are ready for a night on the town.

We’ve signed up for six sessions so we’ll be back. It did get easier, but it just wasn’t for me.

SO---- I decided to take a Pilates class. I loved it. It was all about core. Work your core. First, I had to find my core. The instructor also seemed to have problems finding my core. But we kept at it. I signed up for six weeks and it did make a difference. I had definition in my arms for the first time in like forever, but the cost was high. It ended up being almost sixty dollars per session and I just couldn’t get past the cost being more than I spent on groceries each week.

Aerobics. I took the class and when the twelve year old that was teaching it yelled, “Today, we’re working out to music from the eighties,” and no one in the class knew any of the songs, I moved on.

On to water aerobics. The club I belong to has water aerobics every day, nine to ten fifteen. The instructors are wonderful and I seem to be able to keep up with the over seventy crowd. Although there are two that kick my ass on the reverse run (where you run in one direction around the pool and then run back against the current, hey, it’s harder than it sounds). The instructors are wonderful, making me do twice as many reps as the older ladies so I get a little harder workout. They play songs I know and love. And, afterward, I can swim some extra laps for my core. That’s right, I found it. And you know what, its right where it’s supposed to be.

Monday, October 18, 2010

That’s Not My Luggage That's My Makeup Bag

Recently my husband and I went on a trip with another couple. We had the car packed and my husband was commenting on the amount of luggage I’d brought along. “Really, Wendy, is all this necessary?”

“Well,” I started, “I need clothes to stay in, clothes to go out, it’s a weird time of year so I need warm and cool clothes. I need workout clothes (that I really intend to use this time) and swimwear for the indoor pool. I need black shoes, brown shoes, tennis shoes, my black boots and brown boots (I live in Florida when else will I wear them?), water shoes for Kayaking and fuzzy slippers for inside the house at night. I need pj’s and since we are traveling with others a robe because I don’t get dressed until after my morning coffee (we’ll get to the strange way I do everything in order each day later). I need two jackets; one to go with brown and one to go with black outfits. I need my seven different color shawls because I get cold and need to wrap up but never know which color I’ll need.”

“Okay,” he says, “I get you need all the clothing, but what’s in this bag?” He holds up a rather large duffle. I take a deep breath and start. “That is my makeup bag.” “Nobody needs this much make up.” “Really? Let’s see.” I pull out the contents. “This is my blow dryer because my hair is so thick I need a 3500 watt. Most places only have 1500 so unless you want to wait an hour and a half for my hair to dry this stays. Next is my straightener. I have naturally curly hair and if I don’t straighten it I’ll resemble Bozo the clown on a good day. And don’t forget I need both my hair brushes, the big on for the top of my hair and the small one to curl the ends.” I continue to lay out the rest, “This is my shampoo, conditioner, hair glaze and hair smoother, all necessary to complete the illusion that I just run a comb through my hair and go.”

“Okay,” my loving husband sighs, now sorry that he brought up the subject. “This bag contains my actual makeup. Day make up and evening because the lighting is different and therefore the makeup is different.” I need to note that this is the smallest bag in the duffle as I really don’t use a lot of makeup. Somehow having it just makes me feel better, you know, in case of an emergency.

“And this bag,” I hold up a plastic zip lock bag, “is medication. My must haves, my daily regime, Lipitor, Calcium, Fish Oil, Multi Vitamins and Advil. Then there are the may needs Tums, pepcid, Benadryl, and the ever necessary item to cure that travel problem many of us get, a laxative. Then the necessaries: toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash and last, baby powder and deodorant along with a few of my tanning towels.”

“I get it, okay...can we go?” “Not so fast, Mister. I also have my soap that I use because some soap dries out my skin and I need my moisturizer to put on each night to keep my tender facial skin hydrated.” “Are you done?” he asks, obviously tired of playing this game. I look in the bag, “Yep that’s it. Oh except the towel.” “Alright, put it all away. I get it. I won’t say anything again.” “Thanks, hon,” I say rubbing his face gently with my hand. “That’s why you’re such a good husband."

Monday, October 11, 2010

Change will do you good...or not.

My husband recently celebrated his twenty year anniversary at work. Before that he worked for a public accounting firm for thirteen years. I bring this up because our generation is known for staying put. Not me, but that’s because I went back to work at various times throughout the years to help financially when needed. My husband and I decided when we had a family that we’d do without in order for me to stay home. So, I took jobs while the kids were in school, selling unfinished furniture, managing a Wendy’s, working the desk at a health club and, well, the list is just too long. But it seems our children's generation is constantly moving from job to job.

Phone rings. “I’m thinking about taking my life in a different direction.” “Yeah,” I answer. I have to think, does the person want me to:
a. Really discuss this issue honestly and tell them my true feelings on the subject.
b. Sit and listen in silence as they bounce the ideas off me, adding only the occasional uh-huh, yeah, I see…or
c. Be the cheerleader… Agree to anything they say because they’re mind is already made up and they just called for confirmation that their decision is the right one. Sometimes it’s exhausting just trying to decipher what they need. “Yeah, I’m kind of tired of all the bullshit at work so I’m thinking about going back to school.” “Um sounds good.” Still unsure about which route to take I hang back to assure myself I’m following the right script.

“What do you think?”

“What do I really think?”

“Yeah, of course, why else do you think I called?”

I dive in head first, “Do you know what you want to do?” “Maybe education, I like teaching kids to do stuff.” “There’s a lot more to teaching. I mean you need to be committed to being with kid’s day in and day out. And it’s not like the old days. Now there’s so much paper work and don’t get me started on the whole teaching to the test stuff.” “So you think I shouldn’t be a teacher?” “That’s not what I said. Maybe you should talk to your cousin Frank. He’s a teacher. He might be able to help you out.” “But you sound like you don’t think it’s a good idea.” Time to change tactics…. “Um, I don’t know, what do you think?” “I think it might be fun, to make a difference.” “Yeah, I see your point.” “Good, well I’m going over to the college to see what I need to do to get my teaching credentials.” “Sounds good. You know honey; you can do anything you put your mind to.” “Yeah, thanks for the talk.”

Two weeks later after I’ve worried about the costs of the kid going back to school, if they would be happy in the teaching profession, discussing it with my husband, my friends and my mother, I carefully broach the subject. “So how did the meeting with the college go?” “What meeting?” A look of confusion crosses their face. “About going back to school to get your teaching certificate?” “What?” “You called,” I start. “Oh that. That was just an idea I had. I changed my mind. I’m still thinking about changing jobs, but I don’t want to do anything until I’m sure.” “Sure about what?” “About what to do.” B. uh huh… C. you can do anything… usually they really, and I mean really don’t want A


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Where Did You Come From (Or it’s all a matter of perception)

Last year my husband had a reunion of sorts. We were in Ohio for a family gathering and we got together with a group of accountants he’d started out with thirty years ago. And although I went to every softball game, basketball game, and social gathering back then, I was busy having babies. I was tired and possibly not the most receptive to the single men and women and the bar scene they frequented after every game. But I tried. It wasn’t that I didn’t fit in, but these were all professionals and while they were talking about who was making partner, I was just happy I wasn’t leaking breast milk. Imagine my surprise when two of the women began reminiscing with me about the great parties back in the good old days. Maybe they didn’t realize that I wasn’t really a big part of the party scene, or maybe they were just including me in the conversation to be nice. But one of them said something that made me smile. She was talking about the people that had moved on and not made it back for the get together. Many in that profession are moved to other states or even countries when they are promoted.

So this woman says, “God, do you remember that one wife that was always hauling those two kids with her? I remember thinking how horrible it must be to have to drag kids everywhere.”

The other woman took over. “Yeah, I was here when she was pregnant. We were all in our softball uniforms and there she was out to here.” She motioned with her hand and if I had been that big I would have weighed over two hundred pounds. Wait. When I was pregnant, I did.

Here was my dilemma. Do I nod my head? Be the nice one and let on like I’m remembering the same thing? Or do I call them on it? Let them know that back then I was taking care of two babies while my husband was working 800 hours overtime for the good of the company. Trying my best to put on makeup and make it to the game and share in his down time from a high pressure job. Sometimes I would cry on the way to the game because it was just so hard to get two kids and myself ready while trying to look good. Then, standing there next to these petite, professional, single women who had no cares in the world but to be cute and clever, I would question my self-worth. These women spent long days with my husband before he came home to a tired, crazy, emotional female.

So I stood there, listening to them describe the young me and for a moment the feelings I had back then came flowing over me.

“What was her name?” One of the women said.

“It was me,” I said, a note of pride in my voice.

“No, it couldn’t have been you.”

“I’m pretty sure; I was the only one in the group with kids. And I was out to here.” I exaggerated the berth. “Do you have kids?” I asked trying to turn the conversation.

“Yeah, two teenage boys,” the first woman answered.

“How nice,” I said. “Mine are in their late twenties, out on their own and doing wonderfully. We’re very proud, and just think you were there when they were babies. Amazing.”

My husband walked up and put his arm around my waist. “What are you three talking about?”

“The good old days,” I smiled, realizing that was just what they were. Because whenever my wonderful husband wasn’t in the field he would run over and lift our son onto his shoulders, or carry our baby daughter around to show her off to all his coworkers. He’d sit next to me on the blanket and talk and laugh with me and the kids while the others were drinking beer and partying. Then, when they all went to the bar, we would drive to the Dairy Queen and splurge on a banana split, his side chocolate fudge, my side strawberry, with marshmallow dividing the two.

I wish I could have thanked those women for reminding me that for all my insecurities about them back then, I wouldn’t have changed my life for theirs for one moment.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Doctor Doctor

Speaking of my dermatologist, I have to admit that I now tend to take better care of myself medically. Again it’s probably because I have the time, but it is nice to have someone compliment you on your good health.

“You’re heart is really strong. But let’s get you on Lipitor for that high cholesterol. Everything else looks great. As long as you get your yearly pap and mammogram, I don’t think we need to do this for another couple years.” Another new medical thing to learn, LDL’s, HDL’s and cholesterol, or as I call them the good, the bad and the ugly. I still don’t quite understand it all, but that’s why I have a Doctor.

They say “You’re numbers are bad. Take these.”

And I go, “okay, how long?”

And they say, “Forever.”

Forever is a freaking long time. But I trust my doctor so every morning I take my little pill and they tell me the numbers are better.

First let me say that my new Doctor is like ten years old. My real Doctor, the one that saw me through the stressful years, decided retiring to Hawaii last year was a good idea. He and his significant other have decided to open a more holistic practice. Good for whom I asked? You’re leaving me just when my body will need you most?

But my new Doctor is third generation. She even practices with her father and brother. She sits and listens and more times than not I feel better when I leave her office.

I think the last few years the medical industry put so much emphasis on early detection that we baby boomers took the idea to heart. A friend of mine, I’ll call her Gloria, who has REALLY good health coverage, recently did a series of tests to see if she was predisposed for certain illnesses. Breast cancer runs in her family and she wanted a heads up on her chances of getting the disease. It came back inconclusive. We met for dinner and the girls had a long discussion on whether it’s better to know ahead of time or just get your annual checkups and hope you catch it in time. Gloria, who I’ve always felt had a strange sense of humor ordered a bottle of wine for the table.

“It’s okay,” she smiled, “I read where red wine is good for you, all those wonderful antioxidants and resveritrol.”

“This is one of those studies I can get behind,” another friend smiled and tipped the glass in a toast to the table.

“You may need to be careful though,” Gloria said. “I hear the studies inconclusive.”

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Yeah. I liked the story the first hundred times you told it!!

The one problem with surrounding yourself with the same friends for years is that you have heard all of their stories and they have heard all of yours. When we get together with the family for reunions or holidays the same stories were heard over and over again. “Remember when Wendy was jumping around in that box and fell into the bush out back? She had to have eight stitches. Doc Stratton stitched her up at his office downtown. His office had that crazy sailfish on the wall...the one that had the eye that followed you wherever you sat?”Another relative would chime in. “Then there was the time she and her friend Cathy snuck out of the house to go to a party. What were they, thirteen? Boy, she was grounded for a year!”

These stories not only get told over and over, but they often take on a new and better twist. “Daddy had to rush her to Doc’s because she was bleeding like crazy. What was it, thirty stitches?”You come to expect the stories from family. They saw you through all of the strange boys you dated, like the one that would run up and down the street in front of your house for over an hour, but never come in. Or the one your sister dated that would never come up to the house. The horn of the car would blow and she’d be gone. We still tease her about that..was there ever really was a guy?

Your family has seen you through the clothes of the sixties; the miniskirts, large bell-bottoms and gauze. The seventies with the halters, silk shirts and maxi dresses and those platform shoes. Then the eighties... well, I spent most of the early eighties in Maternity wear. But even that isn’t sacred. “Do you remember how huge you got with the second baby? I mean HUGE.” I HAVE to listen with family. It’s what we do. We sit around the kitchen table eating Massey’s and reminiscing. The memories and stories are who we are.But with friends we know we can look at each other and smile and simply say, “That’s a good story, I enjoyed it the first hundred times you told it.”-Wendy

Waddle Waddle

So you’re fifty something. You look in the mirror and like what you see. For the first time in your life, you take really good care of yourself. You work out. I do water aerobics three times a week. My sister, who is a year older (and always will be) walks and does yoga. I have a sister-in-law that could out-ride Lance Armstrong and another that you don’t dare call between 5 and 6am as it’s her workout/meditation time. Most of my close friends are into the walking thing. I hate walking. I get bored seeing the same sights day after day. If I go out to walk it’s usually with the damn (I mean, wonderful) dog. By the time he sniffs, pees, barks at the birds, squirrels, rabbits, other dogs, bees, gnats...well you get the idea... I’ve walked a mile in just under an hour. This is not working out. It’s painful and boring. But I am overcome with guilt walking without him, as I pass my house on the second mile and see his little nose pressed up against the window. An hour later we make it back to the house and I’m exhausted from standing around watching him do his thing. I tried to take him to the dog park, but he seemed to want to get to familiar with some of the other male dogs.

So we, as fifty-somethings, walk, swim and twist our bodies, strengthen our cores with yoga and Pilates. Our bodies are firmer than ever. We eat better because now that the kids are gone there are no snacks around to tempt us. However, glancing in the mirror you still see a few parts that can’t be covered. They’ll give your age away every time; your hands and your neck. There are those pesky skin tags and age spots. Every time a spot pops up, I remember the commercial where the woman says, “They call them age spots, I just call them ugly”. I’ve tried the creams and they work temporarily, but I’m not good at having to do something every day for the rest of my life. I bought into the crazy ads and tried all of them. But once I embraced the changes and went back to my soap and water and a light moisturizer I was much happier.

My dermatologist has become my new best friend. One quick snip and those pesky skin tags are gone forever. He offered to use a little Botox around my eyes, but I explained that years of raising children had already given me that constantly surprised look I’ve come to love; I’ll leave the Botox for others.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Early Bird Gets the Worm...

...which brings me to another of my little quirks that annoys the hell out of the kids. I am always early. It comes from having to get three kids and a husband ready each and every time we went anywhere. I needed time to deal with that last minute spill or disaster so I learned to leave plenty of leeway. I usually played the old half hour time difference game. A fun game where you tell everyone you have to leave by six when you actually need to leave by six-thirty. Then you get to the place and of course you’re early.

When I first moved to Florida and the kids were beginning elementary school, I was determined to get involved. I was room mother and agreed to be in charge of refreshments for the PTSA meeting. (As a side note, I grew up where we had PTA so I didn’t understand the S thing from the beginning until another parent explained that in this state they liked to have the students involved. Aren’t they already involved? This is where they go to school, right? But I digress.) I had the refreshments lined up and everyone agreed to drop off the cookies a half hour early so we could get set up for the seven o’clock meeting. I got to the school and it was locked up tight. Did I mix up the night? Could I have the wrong time? I walked the perimeter looking for a janitor or anyone who might have an answer. At ten till seven there was still no sign of any of the other goodies and no one for the meeting. Back then no one had cell phones and I finally noticed the pay phone...behind the locked gate. At seven o’clock, the janitor opened the gateway. Just as I stepped through, here came the other women with the goodies. I started to chastise, because by now I was a little pissed, when one woman spoke up. “Honey, you’re in the South. Nothing starts on time; in fact I bet the principle won’t even be here until seven thirty.” For a crazy early bird, this threw off my whole sense of being. I could move from being early, I could even get used to the being on time. But it would take an act of God to get me used to things starting late.

This malady has stayed with me throughout the years. I’m still the first one at a restaurant waiting for my friends to show. It seems I’ve surrounded myself with latecomers, but over the years we’ve started to laugh at the differences. Many a time I will be sitting in the booth waiting, wondering. “Is this the right restaurant? “Is this the right day?” Some things never change.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Gas Gage II

There is one bad thing that came with turning fifty. The inability to eat anything you want on the spicy food chart. For me, it’s garlic. Actually, anything buttery with the garlic. Gone are the days of Oysters Rockefeller, garlic pizza and just about any of my special meals. I had a love affair with Garlic early in life and the wonderful flavor made it into most of my recipes. Now, I find it necessary to replace the flavor. I have found that extra herbs like thyme or basil can replace the garlic cloves that I cherished. It’s different, but most times the flavor is acceptable.

We won’t go into detail about what my symptoms are when I do eat garlic. Basically, I’m uncomfortable for a day. A few of my other friends have said that they too have some food problems. Nuts, the peels from some fruits and I have a friend that actually has acquired an allergy to beer. Maybe the lack of garlic in my diet isn’t so bad.

My son once told me that your physiology changes every seven years. You can pick up new allergies or foods will start affecting you differently. I’m hoping that when I turn fifty-seven my garlic problem will cease. For the time being, I sit and watch people eat those wonderful garlic butter rolls at the restaurant we frequently gather with friends …and I wait… only six more years to go.

I’ve also noticed that we have morphed into a group who likes to discuss what illness we are experiencing. The first half hour when we get together is taken up with new aches or pains that we are all feeling. There is all the new terminology we have learned this year. Many of our parents are going through knee replacement and/or hip replacement surgeries. These are things we have to look forward to as we age. My favorite discussion is hormone therapy. The specialist’s change daily on what is good for you, what is bad for you, what natural foods help so you don’t need to put synthetics into your body. It’s enough to drive a person crazy. Once I saw a special about some hormone that was made from mare urine. Excuse me? I’ll just keep trimming that one hair off my chin, if you don’t mind.

Many in my group were athletes when we were younger. And to those who are following in our footsteps I say, “What are you thinking?” The shoulder you can’t bend to lift above your head from a worn rotator cuff, the tendonitis that shoots pain through your arm from tennis or softball, the knee damage from the skiing accident... all these minor injuries develop into serious pains as you get older.

You see your orthopedist and they can now replace those ailing joints. But I’m still attached to the old knee and hip, and if I have to take two Advil every morning for the rest of my life then I’ll do it. It may take me a little longer to get moving in the morning, but it’s a small price to pay to keep my body intact.

And just because the body may be going doesn’t mean the mind isn’t as sharp as it’s always been. My adult kids tease me that I seem to be somewhat confused at times. Maybe I’ve always been this way and they just didn’t have the time to see it. They were so busy with school and boyfriends and girlfriends and jobs that they had little time for Mom and Dad. Maybe I was always a little scattered. I remember being at the mall with my daughters one day and panic sat it. Did I say I would meet them at the food court or by Sears? Did we say we would meet at one or one thirty? And this was when I was a young forty. Of course I ran into them at a coffee shop and they said, “Where have you been? We were supposed to meet here a half hour ago.” Really? Coffee shop at twelve-thirty? Where did that come from? But it wasn’t that I didn’t remember where to meet. Sometimes when you have kids you kind of tune them out. I just needed to learn to not do it when they told me where and when to meet.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


So the kids are grown and out on their own. You have the freedom to be having sex anywhere you want and anytime you want, but you notice a noise at the foot of the bed. It’s the dog, the one that your youngest child convinced you to get when the former family pet died. Your daughter was eighteen at the time and heading off to college, but you’d always had a dog and this one was the cutest thing. You get the dog and a year later your baby’s off to college but the dog is still there. Now you have the vet bills and the boarding bills (because you want to travel) and you have to walk, feed, and play with the dog. Don’t get me wrong, we love our dog. In fact if my husband had to choose between the dog and some members of the family (me included) the dog would be the hands down winner.

A year ago when our daughter got her own place, I suggested she take the dog to live with her. After all it was her that wanted the dog initially. You would have thought I had murdered someone. My husband wouldn’t speak to me for days. But I’m the one home with the dog day in and day out. I’m the one that makes all the plans for boarding and grooming and I’m the one the dog hates when he gets a shot or I leave him at the kennel. And, honestly, the dog is kind of neurotic. When we leave him at the kennel, it takes a couple weeks for him to become socialized back into the group. We finally reached an agreement that when we travel one of the kids takes the dog to their home so he isn’t left at the kennel. The way I figure if I travel enough they’ll have him as much as I do. See win, win.