Category Archives: Friends

I’m a Half Century Old Today!

I got my AARP card in the mail this week. For those of you who have been living in a Forever 21 store or in front of the Jersey Shore all your short lives, AARP is the advocacy group promoting issues like Social Security, retirement benefits, and other concerns of Americans who are considered to be past their prime. Typical AARP members might include Betty White and Clint Eastwood, although if he were a spokesperson, Clint probably would have been dropped after his recent RNC rambling stint. However, 90-year old Betty White should be promoted to Queen AARP due to her witty Facebook response: “Is Clint talking to a chair?” A full 20 years after the cancellation of The Golden Girls, Betty’s still got it.

AARP used to be known as the American Association of Retired Persons, but is now an acronym without a title of origin, even though it is officially pronounced “ay ay ar pee” instead of “aaaarp,” which would sound like the bark of a small yapper dog, which coincidentally the majority of AARP members probably keep as their companions.

My kids are 5, 11, and 16 years old, and to them, 50 must seem absolutely ancient. By the time my mom was 50, she already had seven grandchildren – two who were older than my son is today. I was born before the Kennedy assassination, 7 years before the first moon walk, before most Americans had color tvs, before the Beatles released their first single, and 8 years before Republican Vice President Paul Ryan candidate was born. I share the 1962 birth year with Tom Cruise, Jon Stewart, Jim Carrey, Demi Moore, Steve Carell, Jodie Foster, Axl Rose, Garth Brooks, Eddie Izzard, Sheryl Crow, Jon Bon Jovi, Matthew Broderick, Rosie O’Donnell, MC Hammer, Emilio Estevez, Craig Ferguson, Bobcat Goldwait, John Slattery, Craig Kilborn, Joan Cusack, Kelly Preston, Flea, Felicity Huffman, and Ralph Fiennes.

1962 was a very fruitful year.

I have “1962” in my email address. I once had someone ask if that was the year I was born. I nonchalantly answered that it was.

“That’s awfully brave of you,” she answered.

No, I didn’t hit her. And I only thought about crying for a second.

When I told people that I had a milestone birthday coming up, many of them would try to flatter me.

“You’re turning 29!”

God, I never want to see 29 again. Back then I was in a horrible relationship, had zero self-esteem, and no life beyond work. It’s a good thing I didn’t end it all in desperation. I never would have known that my best years were still to come.

At 50, I have a full life – a little too full most of the time – but one that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I have a husband who always makes me laugh, three terrific kids who make my life worth living, a close-knit family I adore, a wide group of loving friends, a home that I appreciate, good health, a job that pays be a decent living and allows me to work from home where I have the freedom to choose my schedule, rewarding volunteer opportunities, a brain that still works most of the time, and I have this blog where I can try to be the funny that I have trouble being in person.

I don’t like my jiggly arms, varicose veins, grey roots, and recent vertical lines that are wrapping around my mouth. But I do like my smile lines, my red root rescue dyes, my thicker skin (metaphorically) and the wisdom that I’ve gained and still acquire more of every day.

I say 50 is the new 30.

Thankfully I’m not alone in having kids later in life, and most of us older moms can keep up with those younger mothers any day of the week. I’m not as frazzled and emotionally unstable as I would have been 20 years ago. And although I definitely was in a better boat financially, I don’t mind sharing my paycheck with my family. Balance transfers and a decent credit score keep the roof over our heads, our bills up to date, and our bellies more than full.

Realistically, I will probably never retire. Between my recent student loans, the debt equal to the GDP of a small nation that my husband has amassed by pursuing his Ph.D., and the inevitable college tuition bills of my three children, I will be paying off student loans until I’m dead. I don’t mind. I like being productive, and if there’s a choice between cutting lip smacks from the main characters of Once Upon a Time (or whatever show I land on after its hopefully 20-year run) or playing golf and bingo all day, I would choose the job.

Here is the Happy Birthday post I put on all my friends’ birthdays on Facebook. I don’t know who I stole it from, but if it’s you, I thank you for it. And now I share it with the rest of my readers for you to cut and paste on your own friends’ pages:

♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸•♫♪ hApPy bIrthDaY to you ♪♫•*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*♫♪hApPy bIrthDaY to you ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪♥ ♥ ♥hApPy bIrthDaY dEar cAtHy •*¨*•♫♪hApPy bIrthDaY to you ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ xo

… and many more!

6 Comments

Filed under Debt, Family, Financial Insecurity, Friends, Humor, Husband, Kids, Parenting

It’s My Fundraiser and I’ll Cry if I Want To

I love our school. We’ve been going to Colfax Charter Elementary School since Emily enrolled in kindergarten in 2001, and since then I have accumulated literally hundreds of friends who are in my iPhone contact list – most whom I am happy to say are probably not dodging my call.

I’m on the Restaurant Committee, which is the team that lines up monthly fundraisers at local restaurants that give our school 20 – 30% back. We publicize the event on our marquee, on Facebook and Twitter, in an email blast, and by putting flyers in the kids’ backpacks.

These events take place during the school year, but recently I suggested that we try our hand at summer fundraisers as well. With the exception of flyers in the backpacks, we could publicize the events every other way, and instead of a monthly event, we could make them bi-weekly since the kids and parents will certainly miss each other and want to have a mass gathering.

The first fundraiser of the summer was yesterday at California Pizza Kitchen. Our last CPK event at the beginning of the 2011-12 school year brought in over $800 in profits for our school, so I was anticipating more of the same.

All three of the other current members of the Restaurant Committee were out of town, so I did all the typical social media posts and then shared them on my Facebook page:

 I’m going at 5:00 today. Who wants to join me?

I sent emails to everyone who was in Jake’s kindergarten class, and any other kindergartners who were in my address book, and even though it’s been a year since Mary moved on to middle school, I invited all her friends as well.

As I picked up Mary from drama camp in the Colfax auditorium I shouted out for everyone to join as for dinner at CPK at 5:00. I did the same when I picked up Jake from Colfax’s Farm Week Summer Camp.

Right before we left for dinner, I looked at my Facebook post to see how many Likes, Comments or Shares I had for the gathering.

Not a one. Nada. Zip. Bupkis.

Colfax’s Facebook page had one Share: Mine.

Usually at least someone would have given me a half-hearted Like, which might be something in between a 🙂 and a 😦 – maybe like a :/, but then that would have required a Comment, and as I just said, there was nothing. This post was in Facebook Wasteland.

The lack of comments to my post truly reeked of disinterest, as if I had suggested something duller than my kitchen steak knives:

Who wants to join me for my annual dusting of the ceiling fans?

Who wants to join me in the heart of a Sig Alert?

Who wants to join me at the DMV?

At least these posts might have sparked a laughing  :-)) or ;) winkingwinking 😉 response.

Undaunted, I forged ahead with my dinner plans. Mary, Jake and I arrived at 5:15, just to add a little time for possible latecomers. Unlike last fall’s CPK fundraiser, there was no long line of cars waiting to be parked from CPK’s complimentary valet. There was no crowd of four dozen people outside waiting to get a table. And as we walked in, there were customers at only three tables, and I didn’t recognize a one.

I thought of walking away without buying anything. We actually don’t have the luxury of eating out in our budget. The bill just gets tacked on to the credit card we won’t have the money to pay off until I start back to work on Season 2 of Once Upon a Time next September, and September is still a long way off.

But CPK only offers free valet parking if you get validated, and you can’t really get a validation if you don’t buy anything. Also, since I’m on the Restaurant Committee and the only member in town who could participate, I’d be a hypocrite to walk away without buying something.

I decided to get the food to go since I was going to get something for Tom anyway. Fortunately Emily’s a vegetarian who doesn’t eat wheat or dairy. I’d just tell her the whole menu would give her the trots.

I ordered a kid’s mac & cheese for Jake, kung pao pasta for Tom and jambalaya pasta for myself, and the portions had better be enough to split it for lunch tomorrow, dammit!

Mary wanted pizza AND salad, and I nearly choked. That girl always has champagne tastes with our beer budget, or since Tom and I don’t drink, it’s kind of like Dollar Tree apple juice vs. Martinelli’s sparking cider. I told her we have frozen pizza at home, so she settled on the Caesar salad. No chicken.

The bill came to $46.93, and I tried to look on the bright side: over 9 bucks back for our school and I didn’t have to pay a tip for a waiter.

We sat at the counter waiting for our order while Jake colored in the kid’s menu and Mary practiced her Belle lines from Beauty and the Beast.

No Colfax families. No big 20% back check. No fun reunion.

I wanted to cry.

But this was a public place and I would look like a wacky woman.

On the other had, no one here knew me.

There weren’t any Colfax families here to witness it.

I wanted to cry even more.

I held it together. Barely.

About ten minutes later, a miracle occurred! A Colfax mom arrived with her 4th grader. Heather and I did the Box Tops fundraiser a year ago, and I was so happy to see her, I wanted to cry – in a good way. But it turns out she was having a special mother/daughter dinner while her husband and son were gone fishing, so I didn’t want to intrude.

A couple of minutes later, Lina arrived.

This is when I really want to cry, and not in a good way.

Lina is my mother-in-law, and I invited her to join us for dinner. She drove herself to CPK after a hard day at work, and here I was, about to grab my to go bag. I had completely forgotten that I had invited her. I offered to stay and get a table or buy something for her so we could go home or to her house and eat it, but she was obviously despondent. I could tell she felt rejected, and I didn’t blame her.

I felt terrible.

I mostly felt terrible because I assumed she was feeling terrible that I didn’t have the thought to let her know that the evening was cancelled. She walked away without validating her ticket, and by the time I caught up to her she had already paid the valet.

That’s when I started to cry.  It began as a silent whimper. I felt sorry for my mother-in-law and our little school and the fundraiser that didn’t bring any money. That whimper snowballed into a bottomless shame pit.

You’re the dork who thought we could have a successful summer fundraiser!

No wonder no one came. Nobody likes you anyway!

How the hell are we going to pay for this meal anyway?

Your mother-in-law hates you!

Now your kids are hearing you cry out loud and they’re going to either be scared or think you’re emotionally unstable!

You really are emotionally unstable. Doesn’t a straightjacket in a rubber room sound like a good solution?

I used to go down this rabbit hole a lot in middle and high school, but I thought I had gotten better as an adult. Obviously not. By the time I got home I was blubbering like an idiot.

My husband Tom has absolutely no personal comprehension of the mood swings created from PMS or menopause or insecure women feeling downright bonkers. But he gave me a hug anyway and wondered out loud how such an intelligent lady can spin out of control so quickly.

He invited me to go to Family Swim at the Y, where no one would question why my mascara was running. And after watching Jake dog paddle while wearing his goofy goggles, I felt better.

Today, nearly 24 hours later, my original Facebook post still sat empty. So under the Like – Comment – Share buttons I wrote a comment to myself:

Nobody likes me.

Maybe someone will click the Like button on that one.

But then it begs to question:

Does that mean they Like me?

Or do they Like that no one likes me?

I shouldn’t be on the Restaurant Committee for my elementary school. I should be enrolled in the elementary school. Because clearly, my self esteem in this instance is still in the 1st grade.

On the bright side, our little CPK fundraiser ended up with 14 Colfax receipts, taking in $605.80 and a donation of $121.16.

To the other 13 families who came to Colfax Day at CPK last night:

Thank you so much! I’m so grateful I could cry.

14 Comments

Filed under Anxiety, Debt, Family, Financial Insecurity, Friends, Humor, Husband, Kids, Parenting

Ooh… Something Shiny!

If it’s 9:15 pm on July 4th anywhere in the United States you can pretty much guess that every warm body is going to be looking upwards. They’ll be saying “ooh” and “aah” and hoping that the couple of big explosions in a row don’t signal that the grand finale is coming, because they’ve been waiting a full year for this event.

This Independence Day, we had planned to climb up a ladder and watch fireworks from the roof of our patio because I knew my husband Tom would be pooped out and tired of crowds. Instead, I ditched him (and I am truly not kidding – he was very happy to have the house to himself) and joined some friends at the redundantly named Moorpark Park to watch fireworks.

Moorpark Park does not have a fireworks display, but it’s only a few blocks away from CBS Studio Center (AKA CBS Radford), which is home to NBC’s Parks and Recreation, CBS’s CSI New York and the syndicated television show Entertainment Tonight. Besides making tv shows, the studio also hosts an annual 4th of July event which includes food, a kids fun zone, and culminates in a huge fireworks display. The downside is, it costs 20 bucks and frequently sells out.

Most people like a good deal, but quite a few want it completely gratis. Think of Napster, residents leeching off their neighbor’s Internet service, or when the LA basin diverts Northern California’s water southward. Like these notable freebies, hundreds or perhaps thousands of people annually flock to the streets adjacent to CBS Radford to watch the fireworks for absolutely no cost. Because the studio will probably not build an incredibly tall Great Wall of China-like barrier to protect the sky above its head, the fireworks show is visible to everyone within an eight mile radius whether or not they fork over an Andrew Jackson greenback to watch. The studios are spending much more effort trying to re-build that Great Wall of China to try and keep the formerly Communist country from bootlegging all their DVDs. An unpaid sneak peek at a local pyrotechnics display is small potatoes in comparison to the billions lost in the entertainment black market.

Usually I’ll secretly embezzle a fireworks show from the privacy of my own backyard ladder (that is until we got our new roof that wouldn’t cave in), but this was my first time stealing the show with a crowd of other like-minded thieves. No one else seemed to have a guilty conscience. They weren’t discussing whether or not they should go back another day and tip the Studio City Chamber of Commerce (the organization that puts on the fireworks show), or that someone with a hint of integrity would deliberately close her eyes rather than watch without paying a fee. So like the sheep that I am, I followed. I watched. I oohed and I aawed.

My friends have been doing this for years, so they knew the best place to park the car, the spots in the park that are not blocked by building or trees, and the perfect time to arrive without being caught in a traffic jam. We spread out our blankets and waited for the show to begin. Then one of my friends turned to me and laughed.

“Wait till the cars start parking in the middle of the street.”

I had no idea what she was talking about, but she explained that because all the parking spots within a half mile were taken, that people would start creating their own parking spots in the median.

I thought she was kidding. But she wasn’t.

At 9:15, the CBS Radford fireworks show began. And so did the new parking lot.

I’m not sure exactly what was going through the drivers’ heads. Most likely they were driving their merry way when a big bright flying thing shot into their peripheral vision.

“Ooh… something shiny.”

So they slammed on their brakes. And finding no available parking spots, they stopped in the middle of the street and watched the pretty lights.

The car behind them did the same thing. And the next. And so by 9:16 pm, the entire middle lane of Moorpark Avenue was instantly transformed into a parking lot.

You would have thought that there would be a lot of angry drivers trying to turn left and were physically impossible to do so. But there weren’t. A few cars drove east or west, but one single stationary line of cars was suddenly stretched end to end for a half mile in both directions.

Major gridlock

By 9:30, the show was over, and the cars started to move, as if the colorless, smoky sky awoke them from their trance. The vehicles slowly pulled out from the median and joined the flow of traffic… which immediately stopped again. Apparently the thousands of onlookers from CBS Radford and its nearby streets all flowed onto Moorpark Avenue simultaneously and were transformed into a gridlock of monumental proportions. At that moment, a police car, fire truck and paramedic approached the nearby intersection of Moorpark and Laurel Canyon with lights and sirens blazing. I don’t know if it was a serious accident or just a fender bender, but if the line of cars was moving slowly before, it was definitely stopped now.

My friends and I strolled a couple of blocks back to our parking spots and were probably home before the gridlock moved a yard – most likely because the onlookers passed by the flashing lights of the emergency vehicles, stopped, transfixed and uttered:

“Ooh… something shiny.”

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Filed under Friends, Holidays, Humor

For Father’s Day, My Husband’s Wish is to Just Be Left Alone

Marc, Tom & Lina at the Saturday night Dodger game against the White Sox.

My husband Tom loves baseball with a passion, so for the past few Father’s Days, we’ve taken him to a Dodger game. It’s a perfect tradition – leave at noon for the 1:10 game, stuff ourselves with Dodger dogs, cotton candy and this incredibly tasty ice cream bites treat called Dibs, and take in some sun. It’s a bummer that Emily and Mary can’t make it since they spend Father’s Day with their dad (my ex-husband), who of course trumps step dad, but we take Jake, Tom’s mom Lina, and one or two of Tom’s childless buddies.

A few weeks ago Tom revealed to me he actually isn’t as fond of this tradition as I thought he was. In fact, it turns out that he not only hates day games (too much sun), but frankly he doesn’t like going anywhere on a Sunday, even if it does seem like fun. Apparently he would like to spend and entire day resting up from weekend fun, which basically nixes any holiday that falls on a Sunday – Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter. If he had his way he would hold Hallmark hostage until the card company switched all those big days to a Saturday. Better yet – Monday so he can get a holiday from work.

Emily, Mary & Jake at the Dodger game

This actually works out better for all of us since it means that Emily and Mary can join us. They don’t really follow the game, but they do like the food. The girls and Jake also like clapping with the organ, doing the wave, and trying to hit the illegal beach ball that gets bounced around in the stands. We brought our friend Marc, a huge sports fan (he attended every single home Kings game and three that were out of state), but he’s got a bah-humbug attitude about these activities. I was afraid that Marc was going to climb over the bleachers and pop the beach ball with a sharpened soda straw. Still, it’s always fun to go to any sporting event with someone who’s a fan of the game.

Tom had a bit of a damper for this year’s Father’s Day. He came home from work early Friday with a horrible upset stomach and it lingered on through the weekend. Although he trudged through the Dodger game, he didn’t really feel like eating anything, which is kind of like going on a cruise when you’re in the middle of a cleanse. Sure, you’ll have a good time, but the meals are a big part of the trip.

Tom & me at the Dodger game after I ate too many garlic fries

On the other hand, I gorged myself on a platter of garlic fries which were dripping in either oil or butter, and then it ended up reeking from my pores all night. Needless to say, Tom spent Father’s Day Eve sleeping on the sofa. There’s nothing like garlic sweat to really mess up an already upset stomach.

The next morning, the kids and I cooked Tom a special meal of extra-thick bacon and a huge omelet with extra cheese, or what should have been called The Clogged Artery Breakfast. I was still full from the night before, the girls we going to eat breakfast with their dad, and Jake was dying for a Poptart since it’s a treat he only gets on the weekends. So Tom was left to eat by himself, or at least pretended to eat while we were watching. With his wobbly stomach, he probably dumped it in the trashcan as soon as we left the room singing Happy Father’s Day to You.

The kids serve Tom breakfast on the sofa

The girls departed with their dad, which left just Jake and myself to celebrate Tom’s fifth year of fatherhood (sixth if you count Jake kicking around in my stomach). I figured it was Tom’s big day and he could spend it any way he wished.

And his wish?: to be left alone to watch westerns all day and play the MMO game Dark Age of Camelot with his virtual friends.

Just one funny card. No gift to open. Lina bought the Dodger tickets and I bought all the food there, and since Tom didn’t feel like eating, that pretty much means that I gave my husband bupkis for Father’s Day. Jake drew a picture of himself on a palm-size rock and made a paper tie for his dad.

Jake gives Tom his Father’s Day gifts

We gave Tom his wish for the most part. Jake played with Legos. I cleaned the house, which was so filthy it should have had cauthion tape stretched around it. Jake and I ran some errands and brought Tom some minestrone soup for dinner.

Pretty boring. But for my low-maintenance husband and his queasy tummy, it was a great Father’s Day.

The nice thing about today is that it will be very easy to top it next year.

If you’re a dad, I hope you got exactly what you wanted for Father’s Day.

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Filed under Baseball, Family, Friends, Holidays, Humor, Husband, Illness, Kids, Parenting

Yikes! I’ve Been Hacked!

I’ve been hacked. Granted, it’s not as devastating as being hacked up by some Charles Manson-like maniac, but it still makes me fall to pieces.

Some worm of an individual slithered into my iMac and stole possibly all of the 679 email addresses in my list of contacts, including my ex-husband, doctors I no longer see, parents of the children in my 15-year old daughter’s preschool class, and even the emails of my nephew, my Godmother, and my cousin’s daughter who have passed away, but I don’t have the heart to delete them yet.

I found out that my contacts had been infiltrated when I saw that within five minutes I had apparently sent out enough emails to garner 24 failure notices. And these were just the ones that hadn’t been sent.

Apparently all my friends (and of course contacts that weren’t necessarily friends) were sent an email reputedly by me. The subject line was RE or — and greetings included Hey, thanks for your wishes!, How are you feeling today?, and hello dear friend among others with poor grammar, punctuation and spelling. Each email provided a link that started with words like green, jewelry, infotech, and the oddest one: maninamall. This variety of links all led to the same website, supposedly called Consumer Career Trends. This site features a bogus-looking news article entitled “Work at Home Mum Makes $10,397/Month Part-Time” which basically upsells a scam called the Home Cash System. I feel a little slimy even talking about it in my blog because I don’t want to promote it. Even negative advertising is still advertising.  But if you ever mistakenly land on this site, leave immediately.

Easier said than done. If by some tragic chance the recipients click on the link and try to exit, they are given an official-looking four paragraph message:

If they click the OK button, they are given a second message which asks:

I doubt you get these cryptic messages from ebay or Amazon.com. My guess is that the same slimy worm who infiltrated my list is trying to buy as much time as possible to gain access into my friends’ contact files.

The hackers are getting smarter. They used to leave the subject line blank, but now they often write a topic that’s worthy of clickage. My counterfeit email even had a little saying at the end which initially looked like words of wisdom from Mahatma Gandhi or Jesus or Homer Simpson. But it turned out to be a random sentence, which after some investigation I found was from a book entitled Radio Boys Cronies, available for free on the Internet through Project Gutenberg. Talk about random.

I feel so violated, and yet this kind of thing happens all the time these days. I receive an email like this about once a week – usually from somebody I haven’t heard from in years.  It’s a nuisance, but we tolerate it.

This got me thinking about what would happen if instead of a virtual hacker job, the perpetrators sent out a real one. This is what it might look like (Sorry for the inaccurate formatting. I can’t figure out margins in WordPress):

FADE IN.

INT. LISA’S ENTRYWAY – DAY

(The DOORBELL RINGS. Cathy’s friend LISA opens the door to a BEARDED MAN (HACKER) with a name tag that reads “CATHY FLYNN.”)

HACKER

Greetings Sir or Madam!

LISA

Actually I’m a woman.

(to herself)

I knew I should have let my hair grow out!

HACKER

I am your friend Cathy Flynn.

LISA

I’m Cathy’s friend and I would know if she had a sex change operation. And if she did, she definitely wouldn’t grow a beard.

HACKER

My name tag say Cathy Flynn. I be Cathy Flynn.

LISA

English is Cathy’s first language. It doesn’t sound like it’s yours.

HACKER

How are you?

(hands Lisa a business card)

Let us get down to business.

(Lisa reluctantly takes the business card. She SCREAMS.)

LISA

Ahhhh! It burns! I knew I shouldn’t have taken anything from you!

HACKER

You too can make over $4,000 a month with the Home Cash System!

(Lisa’s hand turns red. Red creeps up her arm and through the rest of her body. Then a HUNDRED RED STREAKS RACE out of her body and into the back doors of all the neighbors in her community. SCREAMS pour from all the homes.)

HACKER

This be my closing: “One small step for man. Oh giant limb for man’s kind.”

LISA

That sounds a little pornographic.

HACKER

This be good. Link from you to your friends be for Viagra.

(The Hacker strolls down the porch steps and heads for the next home.)

FADE OUT.

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Filed under Anxiety, Friends, Humor, Parenting, Parody

Amateur Night

Sober alcoholics have a nickname for New Year’s Eve: Amateur Night.

It’s when the normies (what those same sober people call normal drinkers) who usually have a glass or two of wine when they go out to dinner or a few brewskies in front of a ball game go out for one night of the year, start drinking over dinner, continue for the rest of the night, then pop open a bottle of champagne at midnight. The next morning they’ve cancelled their trip to see the local parade, and instead they’re moaning in bed and racing to the bathroom every 15 minutes to puke their guts out.

Then they make their first New Year’s resolution that they will most likely break before year’s end: never again.

Sometimes they’ll do a shorter version of the same song and dance on St. Patrick’s Day with the green beer, or on Cinco de Mayo with a few pitchers of margaritas. There’s a good reason that the Highway Patrol works overtime with extra sobriety checkpoints on these holidays. It’s because of the amateurs.

I was invited to a New Year’s Eve party with old friends I was looking forward to seeing, but ended up at another bash with a bunch of my daughter’s friends and their parents who have all become good friends of mine. Definitely a quality problem being invited to two parties on the same night. Everyone should be so lucky on New Year’s Eve.

As someone who used to drink a lot but no longer drinks at all, New Year’s Eve can sometimes be a little uncomfortable, unless of course I’m staying home – which my husband did. He’s had a week-long ear and sinus infection and if I dragged him to the party, I know he’d be tapping his watch at me before 9:00, and that wouldn’t be fun for either of us. So he was the one who stayed home, and yet he was also uncomfortable. Double bummer for him.

The party was a potluck, and it was a smorgasbord of everything from pizza to lox to brownies to potstickers. Of course the kids woofed down the pizza and baked goods, and about 18 of them were running around, jumping on the trampoline, dancing in unison with the Wii, and blowing horns well before midnight.

There were 10 couples chatting about what it’s like to be new middle school parents, how we spent the holidays, and the new movies that came out this week. A good amount of wine and champagne was being poured (for the adults – not the kids), and yet I don’t think one grownup became even slightly blitzed. The kids and I toasted with Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider, while the majority of their parents clinked with champagne, and it took a good ten minutes to get around to hugging everyone after shouting “Happy New Year!” No one picked a fight, made a pass at someone else’s spouse, passed out, or loudly slurred the phrase, “I am not drunk!”

I’m quite sure my friends didn’t make a quick u-turn in the middle of the street when they saw the flashing lights signaling a sobriety checkpoint or throw up in their shoes. And my guess is that they’re waking up this morning a little later than usual (after being up well past midnight) and they’re bright eyed and bushy tailed enough to cook their kids a stack of New Year’s Day pancakes.

I was thinking of writing my New Year’s resolutions for today’s blog, but I figured every other blogger in America was doing that. I’m just glad that one of my resolutions is no longer to quit waking up with a hangover. I haven’t had one in over 16 years. And the added bonus of that is that I have found some wonderful friends who are responsible drinkers even on New Year’s Eve, and don’t care that I’m toasting with Martinelli’s.

6 Comments

Filed under Anxiety, Friends, Humor, Husband, Illness, Parenting

Hibernating

I'm in here somewhere

I’m hibernating.

It’s not my natural state of being, so I am completely out of my comfort zone.

I’m typically the whirling dervish Mama Bear nabbing a teddy for Jakey Bear, collecting warm fur blankets for Mary Beary and gathering wheat and dairy-free nuts and berries for Emily Bear so the den will be sweeter smelling for all of us during our long winter’s nap.

But somewhere in the midst of my busy-ness I hear Papa Tom Bear pathetically pleading:

“Sweetie, just stop. You’re sick. Go to bed.”

My husband normally doesn’t have a pathetic bone in his body, and he don’t beg fo’ no one. But he’s worried about me.

After two ER visits, a 9-day stay in the hospital and a diagnosis of shingles to my eye and left side of my head, I am finally home with strict orders to rest.

The sad thing is, rest is the only thing that makes me feel better. The pain in my head ranges between 1 and 4 on a scale of 1 to 10, it looks like I’m wearing a Star Trek Klingon mask over half my head, and the IV on my left hand gave me phlebitis, a blood clot that made my hand and arm bruised, swollen and unable to move without a boatload of pain.

phlebitis

My husband tells me that the phlebitis is God doing for me what I can’t do for myself. It forces me to stay away from work, typing, and chores. It also teaches me humility as I ask for help with simple tasks like tying my pants, fastening buttons, and opening lids. My mother-in-law drove me home from the hospital and took care of me my first day home. In the middle of my first hot bath in forever, I had to call her in to ask if she would shave my right armpit. I’m not sure if I was more grateful or embarrassed.

I am tired all the time. I stumble out of bed around 9:00, eat a couple of bites of something and park myself on the sofa. By noon I’m back to bed. I get up again around dinner time, then return to bed a few hours later.

I don’t always sleep. At 3:00 in the morning they call that insomnia, but at 3:00 in the afternoon it’s called… I don’t know what. During the wee hours I grab my iPad, which doesn’t seem to know if it should be horizontal or vertical while I’m lying down, so the screen often resembles a prop plane in a tailspin. I post my progress on Facebook and I’m amazed at the outpouring of well wishes. My friend Gabe responded that Facebook saved him while he was recuperating from back surgery. I read about everyone’s Thanksgiving dinner, their Black Friday shopping experiences and how they’re now setting up their Christmas trees. I press the “Like” button often. It’s comforting to virtually experience their lives, even if it is only in a sentence or a photo.

The afternoons I lie in bed in and out of sleep and listen to the sounds of my family going on with their lives without me: Emily chatting and giggling on the phone with her friend; Mary singing Adele’s Rolling in the Deep at the top of her lungs; Jake dragging his 3×3 foot plastic waffles across the living room floor, building an elaborate house; Tom yelling at the dogs for snagging his lunch. Even though I’m not participating, I love being home to experience it, even if it is just audibly.

The phone rings a lot, mostly with people offering to help. We’ve received two roasted chickens, baguettes, a variety of salads, tuna salad, two turkey roll ups, a dozen deviled eggs and a pumpkin pie. I tell people we’re fine with meals, but when my friend Sam offered to bring baked ziti for dinner tomorrow night, I caved. I love a good ziti. We’re still accepting rides to and from school, and it’ll probably take me all spring to make up the car pool commitment.

My friend Lisa offered to spend a couple of hours cleaning my house. It is a testament to a very good friendship for her to not only sincerely make such and offer, but for me to actually take her up on it.

Mary gave me a hug the day I came home from the hospital. “You’re so skinny, Mommy!” she remarked. I’m embarrassed to say that I was thrilled by that comment. I lost 10 lbs., and I still don’t have much of an appetite. But I would definitely trade the reduction of two dress sizes to get my old life back.

About a week ago, I started to become a little more lucid and asked my husband to bring my laptop to the hospital. I spent about two days drafting my blog Shingles! – More Painful Than Childbirth and somehow thought that it would magically transpose itself from my brainwaves to the Internet. I didn’t really factor in the effort of actually typing the thing – especially with one hand.

I typed a little. Slept a little. Typed some more. Slept longer. I finally finished it and was just checking the typos when my body shut down.

I remember my husband telling me a story of how he was watching a women’s triathlon with his ex wife, and there were two contestants running neck and neck more than a mile ahead of any other runner, when only a matter of yards away from the finish line, both their bodies shut down. My husband imitates something that looks like a headless chicken flailing, rolling, and flapping its limbs helplessly as the other participants ran past them to win.

This is how I felt on the last few typos:

Small i. Need capital I. Where’s shift? Hold shift. Keep holding. Where’s I? Hold shift. Tap I. Almost. Almost… got it.

I uploaded the blog around midnight, then slept through the night and most of the next day. The day after that I was released from the hospital, and I slept most of that day as well.

So now I sit here, my first time typing longer than a few answered emails. I’ll upload it, have a few bites of dinner, then go back to bed.

This post is longer than I would have liked, but I just don’t have the energy to go back and edit it.

It might be a while before I post another blog.

I’ll be busy hibernating.

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Filed under Anxiety, Friends, Humor, Husband, Illness, Parenting, Recuperating