It all started with church,
This idea of getting ready for Monday-
To try on a different approach
To first light morning chaos.

I’d become one of those people
Who write hymns to their crockpots and can tell you
Which days the children
Need gym clothes.

(I am also a person who knows
Anything
Can happen.
Just because I’ve located
My stockings and checked them for tears
Does not mean I believe
I have control
Over tomorrow
Or anything else,
For that matter.)

I head to the gym for
A swim, some sweat,
and some space
To reach and drop
Stretch and bend.
I think about summer.

Maybe next Sunday,
I’ll schedule a pedicure
to get ready for spring
Or my next time at yoga.
At least once a week
I find myself surrounded
By well groomed women
In two tone leggings
Doing down facing dog.
In position, I’m faced with
Feet that scream neglect
Even louder than my kids
When I suggest last week’s
Corned beef and cabbage for dinner.

This evening-
One extra load, one last check with each kid
Do you need pencils?
Do you need a ride?
Tell me now because
You are old enough to know
I have no idea
When your recital will be, except that it will probably happen between now
and the first week of May.

Let me know whether your first game is at home or away.
Tell me, or text me,
Then tell me, or text me again.
I don’t care you don’t want me to be there.
I’ll put on sunglasses,
Wear the other team’s colors
and probably show up twenty minutes
After it’s over.

Coffee is measured,
Fruit is sliced,
Clothes selected, inspected,
Heels lean in the hallway.

Lunch is tucked inside tupperware,
This is good.
It won’t go bad
When I forget it tomorrow.
The world won’t come to an end.

(I know this because
I’ve devoted most of my life
doing everything I can to avoid
getting ready for anything
and so far… well, look outside.
You know what i’m saying?)

I spent an hour an a half doing
Everything I do every morning
in about twenty minutes.

And I still haven’t brushed my damned teeth.

or had a drink

or read the Sunday paper.

I’m ready for Monday
Though I’m carrying a bit of a grudge.

I like now,
Sunday night,
the moments before the alarm.

I like now.

.

Here it is, the Friday of July 4th weekend. It’s raining. I’m home alone.

My fifteen year old son is at the mall. Instead of being happy he’s not in the woods, all I can think about is that he’s decided to expand his career as a juvenile delinquent to include shoplifting.

My twelve year old daughter is at a friend’s house. She knew I was staying home this evening to take care of some homework, so she made me dinner. Then she spoke with me at the dinner table. I call her my little miracle.

After explaining to me for the fourth time that nothing had happened at camp all day, and that she thinks we should never, ever discuss Donald Trump during a meal, she picked up my take home exam for Writing for Communications. It’s due on Tuesday, July 5th. Yup, the day after July 4th weekend. Did I mention it’s the Friday before July 4th weekend?

Tomorrow night, we are packing up and going to the woods for a week. We will have a cabin with four beds and an old fashioned grill, the kind that uses charcoal, by the front door. We will share an outhouse with the thirty other campers. We will keep our food in coolers that will swallow ice like it’s beer at a ball game. The perishable food will  get warm  quickly so I need to pack a lot of granola bars. And peanut butter. And bread.

That’s the thing. I need to pack.

My daughter pointed this out to me while she gazed with horror at my exam. It consists of about five different assignments to cover everything we discussed in class.  I need to transform four newspaper stories into thirty second radio spots. Next on the list is to explain what it takes to write a good proposal, and I’m pretty sure he’s not looking for something that would work on the Bachelor.  Before I’m done I need to create a cover letter as a person applying for job as a Student Employment Director. (I am not thrilled with the cover letter portion. I don’t want to be a student employment director, not even a little bit and I’m afraid my lack of enthusiasm will show.)

Did I mention it’s Saturday of July Fourth weekend and I don’t even know if I own a flashlight and we are going camping for a week?

For the grande finale, I need to write a complete story- not a partial story, a novel, a comic book, an article, a Facebook post, a tweet, or an epic poem- a complete story. It must contain the words mentor, autonomy, conflagration, enigmatic, pithy, contrarian and pedestrian. (I’m surprised he didn’t give us the option to turn it into a radio show, my professor does seem a bit partial to radio.)

I’ve been writing stories for a long time now, and I like to write them in my own voice. My own voice is not pithy. It is everything but pithy. This is why I stay away from Twitter and people that like to tell me to get to the point.

Let’s  take a look at enigmatic as a place to start. To be clear, I love enigmas. I love being around enigmatic people. They tend to lurk in shadows wearing mysterious cloaks or impeccably cut suits, have perfect eyebrows and great back stories they’ll share if they have enough expensive whiskey in their system. But enigmatic people aren’t really crazy about me. I’m not pithy enough and I can’t afford even cheap whiskey. Even if I could, I wouldn’t buy it. Cheap whiskey is kind of gross. So I don’t think even the kindest of enigmatic souls would give me enough material for  a whole story and since they make me nervous I don’t want to ask.

I might be able to write a story in my own voice about being a pedestrian or I could talk about the beginnings of a conflagration I found in Colin’s bedroom the other night.

I walk a lot of places, and have rather strong feelings about pedestrian rights.   I, as a pedestrian, have the right to cross into the middle of the street into oncoming traffic if a. I successfully make eye contact with the driver, b. it is either under thirty five degrees or over seventy degrees, fahrenheit, or c.) I am wearing heels higher than three quarters of an inch.

That would be a pretty unpopular story, even with me, because the majority of us are drivers most of the time. Walking out into oncoming traffic is pretty stupid. I wouldn’t make a very sympathetic narrator.

I can’t talk about the fact that at one thirty in the morning I was woken with a very strong feeling I was overseas in Amsterdam, I think. I dreamed I was perched on a bar stool in the middle of a bar that had been open without closing for business since 1987. As soon as it became clear I was actually in my basement in  Milton, Massachusetts, I crept upstairs to investigate.

My son was holding a pipe with a bowl big enough to fit a baby’s head. It was overflowing, a tiny bonfire of sorts, and he was lifting to his lips when I opened the door. Until he gets a little smarter, or a lot older, he hasn’t earned the right of anonymity in my stories, photographic absence from my Facebook page on the first day of school and allowing me twenty four access to his cell phone. “This is not the path to autonomy!” I whispered to my son and his friend. I didn’t want to wake up the dog. The smell of pot makes her chase her tail and bark at the rug. This would then wake my daughter who was sleeping with the dog.

Even though he hasn’t earned any rights to privacy, I’ll respect them anyway and leave that story out.

The word that really concerns me is contrarian. I have always defined myself as a pacifist, so I’m not really comfortable with the contrarian point of view, though I guess one could be contrary and peaceful at the same time.

My son might disagree, basing his opinion on my position on mobile devices. According to my son, every other teenager on the planet has their cell phone available at all times-while they are in the shower, during final exams, at Aunt Margie’s funeral.

I am also a party of one when I insist he put the phone inside the phone case. According to Colin, it shouldn’t matter that the device cost seven hundred dollars if the teenager has a strange and steadfast position about not needing a phone case. Other parents don’t make their teenagers use phone cases, ever. It wouldn’t bother other parents at all if they went out and spent thirty five dollars on a phone case the girl at the Verizon store with the really cool tattoos, pale pink hair and bubble gum heels recommended.

It bothers me.

Why did I believe this unusual expert in retail telecommunications? I believed her because I am firmly convinced that everyone in the world knows more about my son than I do.

I bet he would have bought and used the case if he’d gone to the Verizon store without me. He would have listened to her.

I bet he’s a pot smoking, rule breaking, dirty clothes under the bed hiding, community service avoiding teenager because he saw me jay walk so often when he was a child. Actually, I’d grab his hand and and drag him across the street, while he squeaked “Mom, shouldn’t we wait for the light?”

Next time I have the urge to parent someone, I’ll mentor a cat. I think it’s pretty safe to say most of them are already screwed up, or at least they are so enigmatic, no one will be able to tell if I do any damage.

I’ll visit the online Quincy Animal shelter after I write this story. I think I could  use a cat.

Did I mention I need to pack?

I’m a jaywalker and a procrastinator.

Considering that I was his role model, I’m lucky he’s nice to animals, does well in school and talks to me from time to time. He’ll even discuss politics over dinner.

 

 

Tonight, when I was going to the gym with Colin, while listening to “Shut up and Dance with Me,” I got a little carried away. Since it is virtually impossible to dance in the car while driving with your son in the passenger seat, I conducted the music, with just one hand, since the other one was busy steering the car.

Colin told me there is no chance the Pops will call on me if Mr. Lockhart needs a little time off. He said he wasn’t sure if I had developed a serious twitch or I was demonstrating how to stir pudding. I like pudding, though I didn’t know there was a lot of stirring involved in it’s consumption, especially since I buy it in the single serve packets at the market.

While walking the dog, Katy and I played graduation. I had to smile at her, hand her her diploma, (a rolled up takeout menu that’s been in the backseat since we bought the car,) and shake her hand.
My handshake was limp, my expression was off when I handed her the diploma/stained menu and I had lipstick on my teeth.

I’m not going to make it as a principal, or in any other position that calls for me to regularly bestow awards and degrees, unless I can do the bestowing by mail or that Skype thing catches on.

Katy said we could practice all night, and there really wasn’t any point. She told me to pay attention tomorrow to what Mrs. Kincannon does, but I don’t think she has much hope I’ll improve by the time she graduates high school.

I’ve told Colin and Katy many, many times that every night before I go to sleep, I lay in bed and think of ways to torment them.

I better get to work. I set the bar pretty high today.

I love you.

(Just want to make this clear, I am, by nature a very loving person. It’s safe to say I love almost everyone. Well, like almost everyone. If I’m having a good day. You get the point- as I write these words, love is in my heart.)

Even though I love you, it is not a good time when I go to the store at 8:30 at night to buy you earbuds so that you can get pumped on the way to the game tomorrow.

It is not a barrel of laughs standing in the middle of your bedroom trying to figure out how, in 36 hours, every piece of clothing you have ever warn, in your entire life, seems to be scattered on your floor, draped on over sized pillows, dangling from your music stand, or stuffed under your bed.

I understand that you regard it as a kind gesture on your part to accept my help cleaning it up, but this process, well, also not a day at the beach. Or a day at the dog park. Or even an hour in the dentists office reading People.

I’ve established I’m a pretty nice person to the people in my life. And I don’t regret the late night shopping, or the early morning to mid Saturday afternoon attempts to return order. I didn’t even mind the late nights spent with glue and poster board, a map of Ecuador and your friend with the allergies, whose mom made me move every single piece of food that might have been exposed to peanuts or peanut dust out to our shed. Which meant transporting everything in our cupboards, except the spice rack, outside.

Why did we do the project at our house? Because you wanted my help. I think. (Looking back, it was probably because your friends mom wouldn’t let you listen to the radio, but I’m going to choose, for my purposes here, to go with you wanted my help.

And both of you, or all of you, you all out there- Still want my help on a daily frigging basis.

So why you gotta be so rude? (I can hear the eyeballs rolling as I type.)

How can you act like sitting down to dinner of barbecued chicken, corn on the cob, and rice, is a favor? And that I should be thankful to you to eat the barbecued chicken and rice, the corn is too labor intensive, while sitting next to me. And that I shouldn’t complain when after four minutes you get up to leave. After all, you sat next to me. You didn’t point out that you prefer legs, and mashed potatoes. You didn’t even try to bring it down to the tv room. I got to spend four minutes with you, and you even put your dish somewhere near the sink.

Let me point out, I didn’t even serve a real vegetable in honor of your presence. And that I attempted to look wide awake and interested while you explained, for the 89th times, what “special teams” are in terms of football.

And that just sitting next to me for four minutes isn’t enough.

This is what I want from the people in my life- I would like you to be nice to me.

I would like you to ask about my day before you start walking upstairs to bed.

I would like you to laugh at my jokes. Ok, maybe about a quarter of my jokes. We can work out a signal so that you know that a joke is coming, so that you can laugh. Or chuckle softly. Or even not roll your eyes.

I would like you to say thank you and please when I hand you your laundry instead of pointing out that when Michael’s mom washed your socks, they came back “white, actually, white!!! Can you call her and find out how she did it?”

I would like you to know that sometimes you hurt my feelings.

I know that my feelings are the last things on your mind, and I accept that orchestra, and algebra, and going for a bike ride with Amanda, and procuring money for another trip to Milton House of Pizza, that all of these things are probably a little more on the forefront of your mind than my feelings.

I would like you to know that your friends won’t think you are a complete loser if you say hi to me after the game. And that I will rent Spiderman two if you’ll hold my hand when it gets scary.

And I’d like you to know that even when you hurt my feelings, I get over it pretty quick.

And I start thinking about what it would be like if I stopped driving you to practice, or making sure you have enough money for snacks, or reminding you about the project due on Monday.

Sometimes I have a lot of free time. To think.

I’m just sayin”

Valentines Day

February 14, 2014

It’s Valentines Day.

Our day started out with my husband in full scale hysteria. He couldn’t find my car keys, he was afraid I’d forget about dentist’s appointment. Our son had left his cell phone at home. Our daughter hadn’t done a good job brushing her hair. All of these, and more, (the price of gas, if the pellet stove needed another cleaning, if he was to start getting tickets because we couldn’t afford to donate much to the policemen’s benevolent association…) were dancing around my beloved’s head this morning until his demeanor resembled a poodle on crack. No, I have never seen a poodle on crack, and after witnessing my husband in one of these moods, I can say with no hesitation at all, I don’t want to see a poodle on crack.

I don’t write much about my relationship with this man. In the tough times, I feel like it wouldn’t be fair to indulge in a one sided kvetch to the cyberworld and I wouldn’t be brave enough to post his side of the story. In the good times, we are in the middle of the good times, and I wouldn’t want to take time away from whatever moments of marital bliss to take notes for my readers.

And I’m not sure if we are in the middle of good times or bad times right now. Right now, I know that when he fusses and fumes about keys and appointments it is his very creative and irritating way of showing me he cares. He doesn’t want my teeth to fall out of my head, or leave me at home waiting for Triple A to come unlock my car for me, again. So when I tell him to “Shut Up!!!’ I try to say those words as lovingly as I can.
It briefly flitted thru my head that my gift to him this morning was not throwing a dirty sponge at his head.

I found my car keys. I made it to my appointment. And then, he picked me up from the dentist and took me to breakfast. A little egg slipped out of my mouth, novocaine was my appetizer. He reached over, and wiped it off my chin without saying a word.

A lot of the time I truly don’t know if he’s my one true love, the father of my children, or a really good friend that I fell into spending my life with. But I know I am a very, very lucky woman.

Because no matter how many times I tell him to shut up, he still has something to say to me at the end of the day. And I am happy to listen, especially if he’s not talking about what I’ve just lost or what I’m likely to forget.

Without him, I’d probably be wearing dentures and riding a bike.

Happy Valentines Day.

Since school started, my world has been gobbled by too much stuff. That’s always been the case, or at it’s always been the case since I started writing on Word press. But this season, there were two new additions that have left me little room to breathe, much less ruminate between breathes and create entire meaningful sentences to those outside my immediate family. (My immediate family might tell you that I don’t create meaningful sentences for them either.)
I’ve become, um, hooked on yoga. It’s not the same as hooked on Phonics, or hooked on drugs, or even the off and on addiction to caffeine I’ve had since I was twelve. I joined a gym right next to my house. There are all different kinds of yoga classes offered right before work, just after I drop Katy for swim team, classes in the pre dinner hour, (while it roasts, I bake in warm yoga at 95 degrees.)

I even bought a mat. Every time I enter the room, filled with all of these beautiful, long limbed, gumbyesque women, all ages, shapes, ethnicities, I find a spot in the middle of them. I roll out my mat, I go the closet for a block and a strap, I sip water from the fountain, I run to the ladies room to pee, and then I find my way back. I find my way back in a sea of gumbyesque long limbed rainbow of x chromosomes, and there is always room left in their midst. Of course, there is always room left. Like I said, I reserve a spot, as soon as I drop my mat.
I am learning from yoga. I’ve only been going a little more than a month, so I’m probably not qualified to share it with you, but let me just say, it’s a good place to find myself six times a week. When I am in the room, on an island of blue fabric, listening to my own breath, matching my breath to everyone else’s, absorbing the teacher’s measured instructions, and reminders, and gentle suggestions, I am an island. I choose what to feel, how to move, what to hear, how to place my body, and then how to move my body. The beginning of a love affair with yoga is selfish, it requires for me to listen hardest to what I am telling myself and it doesn’t lend itself to quick posts on facebook, or ruminations on word press.
And that has been the perfect place for me to be right now in the midst of the other addition to this little life of mine. My son is now thirteen. Since school started, since the first hairs sprouted on his upper lip, and so far, I’m the only one that’s seen them, things have gotten complicated. The other day, I mentioned a song to him. It was by eminem, a song he’d written about missing Dr. Dre. For those of you not familiar with the midwestern rapper, Mr. Em wasn’t bemoaning a missed appointment at the health clinic.

Regardless, my son, my son who once declared I was the coolest mom ever just for knowing how to spell me Em’s name, looked at me with utmost scorn.
“Mom, that songs been out since, like, 2004. You call yourself an eminem fan?”

No, I never called myself an eminem fan. I like some of his music and I know how to spell his name. For the record.

Next day, he called me on the phone. I was on my way home from driving Katy to swim team, after working out, after working. I was hungry. And he said the words:
“Mom, dinners on the table.”
Dinner was on the table. Colin had reheated the turkey taco meat from the night before. He had sliced a tomato in half and put a head of lettuce in a bowl. He had heated some taco shells he found behind the microwave for forty minutes in the oven until they were as solid as a cookie sheet.

I ate the turkey tacos. And then I ate the pizza that my friend brought over out of the blue. Unsolicited. I sort of swear.

He is the coolest son ever. He is capable of making me a card that would make a dead mom weep, (get that hip reference to the rolling stones. Probably not. I guess Colin’s right. I try too hard.)

Things are complicated right now. I go to yoga, where I’m just starting to figure out where my butt should be in downward dog, and have just accepted I’m probably never going to be able to hold my body up on my elbows.

I come home to my son. One minute, he smiles and I swoon. Before the minutes over, he tells me he was smiling because his friend on the phone just offered him the chance to by a used pair of sneakers for only $125 dollars, “I mean, mom, why would I smile at you. You gave me crap when I MADE YOU DINNER! I mean, it might take time before I recover from that…” And he’s joking with me again, and smiling. Nope, that smile was for his sister. She just said she would do the art work on the front of his book report.

Sometimes I go to yoga twice a day.

Happy Birthday

July 26, 2013

Today is a big day, it is my birthday. For three days, I’ve been thinking- Do I write about this? Do I not write about this? Do I have anything profound and/or funny to say about birthdays in general or my birthday, specifically?

At first, I considered writing about the time I truly realized that I was going to die someday. I was in my 20’s, never really pondered mortality that much, (kind of strange considering my father had done just that a few years before,). I remember laying there, on this huge bed, trying to figure out how I felt about the fact that someday I was not going to be around. I was eating Greek pizza from a place down the street. I remember wondering if maybe I should try to go back to college so I could get a really good job and have the money to buy organs of the black market.  I remember putting on the soundtrack to Dangerous Minds and dancing around to the song “Gangsta’s Paradise” so I’d stop thinking about it. Twenty years have gone by since my obvious revelation and  I’m still not happy with the idea that my life has a preordained, unsatisfactory conclusion.

That’s a little too gloomy, and besides, it’s a bit boring.

So, I approached my topic from another angle. What about if I simply examined…

Me. I could talk about how I’ve changed thru the years. These days, I’m sunny and easy going; before I was described as flighty, dramatic and moody, ( the vodka gimlets and copious amounts of wine might have had something to do with the latter.) I eat salads with fruit on them, and l admit, in the midst of my very closest friends, to listening to country and western music. I am a dog woman, formerly a devout cat worshipper. I am even tempered, where as before I was one of my very favorite hobbies was to indulge in the great pleasures of the wallow.

And I want to go back. Just to the wallowing, (I really like salads with fruit, and easy going is kind of a nice way to be). I would like nothing more than to put on a pair of ugly pajamas, poor myself a glass of wine with a screw top cap and indulge in a boatload of self pity.

My one birthday gift was that Colin consented to help Katy clean up the dog poop in her room without me having to beg him.

There is no cake anywhere in my immediate future.

And it’s raining just enough so that I have no hope, even with the assistance of a blowdryer, product, and a straightning wand imported from Italy, of having even a tolerable hair day.

I shouldn’t feel bad. My girlfriends took me out to dinner the other night. And they remembered without me dropping even one hint. And it was good. I only wish that in our little foursome, I was still Samantha, the tall blonde with the sexy voice and nasty sense of humor. These days, I’m afraid I’m Miranda. With thicker thighs and less promising career.

But-

My brother in law sang me happy birthday this morning.

We are taking my son to Six Flags on Tuesday for his birthday and I really, really love amusement parks.

And though it’s raining, and there is no hope for my mane, it’s not raining hard enough to keep me from walking the dogs.

And, if I really want cake, I can stop at the store and pick one up on the way home.

Because that is the person I am now.

I let myself wallow, but only for fifteen minutes at a time.

My kids had mid winter break last week.

My brother had chest pains and had two stents put in his chest; my mom says having two stents put in his chest at 48 is no big deal, the surgery was non invasive.

I got a C on my BioMechanics quiz on Tuesday, my attempt at diagramming the muscles in the upper thigh was pathetic.

My mother in law, currently suffering from the early stages of dementia, was found to have breast cancer at her last checkup. Five minutes after she left the doctor’s office, she told her daughter they needed to go out and celebrate “another perfect checkup.”

When my husband told me this, I started to cry, but then I remembered I was late picking up my best friend’s kids from the school bus. They didn’t have a break this week. So if I was late I couldn’t use my own kids as an excuse. And I  didn’t want them to see me crying because then I’d have to explain the whole thing to them and I’d cry more. Or they wouldn’t notice me crying

And I’d cry even more after I dropped them off.

My daughter went to camp. My son, he’s 12, in seventh grade, didn’t want to go to camp. He said he needed time at home to relax. I let him stay home, but made him put clean sheets on my bed, and walk the dog, and fold clothes, even Katy’s clothes, which always end up on the floor. Every morning before I left, I told him to feed the animals. I’m not sure what he fed them. Each night, when I got home, Sophie, Michael and Bijoux all seemed more anxious than usual. So, I’m wondering, did he feed them, or did he just listen to obnoxious music all day and they aren’t used to having him around. Maybe they have an afternoon napping club and he messed them up. So I fed them really large dinners each night.

Other than the C, school was good. Katy had fun at camp. Colin seems more relaxed, but he also announced this morning he is suffering from a severe cold. So I don’t know if he’s relaxed or weak from fever.

Thank God we went away for a weekend. Thank God, I saw my friend, and had a conversation outside of what’s for dinner, or what’s for lunch or whether the special socks are dry. Thank God, there were movies, and time to talk without any agenda, bigger than small talk, but smaller than meaningful… just conversation. And then home, and a drop off of luggage, and we deposited ourselves at another friend’s house for the Oscars. Chicken wings, and skits about boobs, and Captain Kirk as the voice of all wisdom…

And home by 9:30. I’m packed for the gym in the morning. Colin and Katy are ready for school There is milk for their cereal. There is cream for my coffee. There is coffee.

I am at the age where normal, daily life is going to be interrupted by horrible, horrible news. And I need to move forward thru my normal daily life because I am lucky enough to be in the middle of one. My prayers go out to the world, and soon enough, I know, I will be asking that the world pray for me.

Happy February Vacation Week. We are a little closer to springtime tonight and a little  closer to death.

Are you an optimist, a pessimist or just plain disgusted with poorly executed transitions?

I’m a little of both, but figure this will pass once the sidewalks are clear and I get a good grade on my midterms.

 

 

Fishing

February 12, 2013

I’s been about a week since my last post on WordPress. I wrote about my fear of developing Alzheimer’s disease; my father died from complications of early onset Alzheimer’s when I was in my 20’s. It was dark, intensely personal, (too much so, according to my mom) and lacking in  humor, attempted or other wise.

About three days ago,  I realized it was getting to be that time. I try to update my blog about once a week; .(I really hate the word blog, and “blogging” sounds like something dirty people do in the back rooms of convenience marts or shoe stores). I really wanted to write something light, to balance out the melancholy reflections last time out.

So I started looking for something to write about. First up, and the obvious choice, was the blizzard, “Nemo”, “Snowmaggedon”, “The Storm that was Badder than the one in 1978″… I live just outside of Boston, about two feet of white powdery stuff fell on Milton. I considered devoting a few paragraphs to shoveling. This is all I got- Shoveling is hard work, and no matter what is on your feet, your socks get wet. I was going to write about the joy of having a few days home with the kids. They spent a lot of time complaining about not being able to go sledding, and asking for more hot chocolate. When I made them hot chocolate- the homemade kind, fancy dark chocolate mixed with brown sugar, honey, a pinch of salt and vanilla- they’d fish out the marshmallows and leave the half drank cocoa on any available surface. Where, more than once, they knocked the mug over. It’s fun to mop up cocoa in wet socks. Definitely couldn’t fill a few paragraphs of the joy of being stranded at home with two clumsy, culinary challenged, ungrateful children. Even if my favorite bliss is being wedged in the middle of their solid, sweet little bodies while we argue about who gets the remote.

So I crossed the blizzard of my list of suitable subjects for this time out I started  scrutinizing  everything I did for potential material. Looking for a pair of sweat pants… A piece about cleaning the closet! Rubbing Sophie the Most Wondrous of the Canines? A rambling ode to the joy of loving a dog. Making sloppy joes? What about a stab at the comedy that the sauce is called Manwich? Girls like sloppy joes too. This girl likes sloppy joes a little too much. As a matter a fact, how about something about what happens when I’ve been stuck at home to long and it’s hard to zipper up my favorite pair of jeans. Everybody wants to read about somebody else getting not able to squeeze into pants.. Except I don’t want to write about that. It’s not too personal, it’s just embarrassing.

So instead of publishing an essay about snowstorms, or puppies or the need to not eat too many sandwiches, I just wrote about what I am choosing not to write about. At this time.

If I don’t think of something by next week, I might revisit the singular joys and pitfalls of  cleaning the closet.

Thirty Something Years Ago

February 2, 2013

In the course of a conversation with my supervisor the other day it came up that I’m no longer working on Mondays. I asked her- “Why can’t I work on Monday?” She looked at me, puzzled. “You said you wanted Mondays off, when we made up your schedule. Three days ago.” I have no recollection of asking for Mondays off, what would I do without work on Monday? Go to the spa? Mow the lawn, Clean out the closets? I can’t afford a spa, it’s the dead of winter, and I’m tooi scared of what’s inside my kids closets to actually look inside them.

That night, a fellow swim mom called me. She wanted to know if she was still picking Katy up for swim team that night. I didn’t remember her offering to take my daughter to swim team.  I didn’t remember talking to her at all last week. Of course, I didn’t hesitate, I’m always happy to let someone else drive my child around.

It didn’t occur to me until later on, after Katy was at swim team, and my son at a friend’s house doing homework, that in the course of a week, I’d pretty much misplaced two  entire conversations, one about my job, and one about my child. It scared the fuck out of me.

Thirty years ago, I was 16 years old and was standing outside the Mountain Lakes Club, in Mountain Lakes, NJ, waiting for my dad to come out of a business meeting and give me a ride home. It was his first day back after an extended absence. He’d been sent to a hospital, (this was before the days of rehab,) to be treated for alcoholism.  He was there for thirty days. Before he’d been sent away to deal with his addiction to russian vodka, he was a big shot, in charge of the American division of a company that imported raw cocoa That morning was his first day back, the big executives from Switzerland were in town.

When he came out of the front door, his eyes were down. He was carrying a briefcase like it weighed a million pounds. “Dad, what happened?” He looked over at me. He looked over at me, but it was like he didn’t see me. His eyes stared in the direction of the tennis courts, they never moved from the tennis courts. “I can’t… I couldn’t- I had to leave, Julie. Something’s wrong.”

“Dad, what do you mean? You’re sick?… Did you have a drink? Do you need to go back?”

He shook his head. I don’t think he ever stood up straight again. My father, my charming, handsome, funny father, the man that all the ladies wanted to sleep with and the men wanted to drink with, was gone. He put his arm around me, and we walked to the fancy company car. We drove home in silence. A week later, he was tentatively diagnosed with early onset Altzheimer’s. He was fourty four years old.

So when I find myself in the middle of a week with pieces missing, it takes my breath away.

It took me a long time to recover from the journey my father and I took, his descent to a place where he tried to stab his health aide. Where he smoked endless cigarettes upside down. Where they had to strap into bed at the nursing home because he was always hopping in with the ladies.

He really didn’t know any better.

After he died I spent about twenty years making a series of incredibly bad choices.

And then I got pregnant. And then I got pregnant again. Long, long story short, I have two children now, one is 12, a basketball star and a lover of animals. My daughter is nine, she likes to slow dance with me in the morning, she writes songs, she makes me laugh more than anyone.

My father’s illness came close to destroying me, I can’t, can’t can’t get that disease. I can’t.

Tonight, I’m making Spaghetti Bolognese. I brown three different kinds of meat first. Then I dump it all in a colander lined with paper towels to strain out the grease. I chop onions and shallots and garlic together, real fine. Add the mixture to the meat back in the pan. Then I pour in tomatos, and an old jar of spaghetti sauce, and a box of special tomatos from Italy. (They are in a box, they must be very fancy.) I don’t follow a recipe, I don’t cry when I chop the onions, I know just the right moment to add the cream, and to boil the pasta.

Tomorrow, I’m going to the gym at 9 for a cardio class. Then I’m going to church. Then, a long walk with some friends and some dogs. The Superbowl. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day.

If I move really fast, and I pray really hard, and I surround myself with my family and friends, and I start paying attention- I’ll  make notes in my phone, I will actually use the calendar from the bank, I’ll buy a book about Mindfulness, and another about nutrition.

I’m scared. I’m not scared of having the illness, well, I am, but that’s not the main thing.

I don’t want to tell my kids. Like he told me. Because I never recovered from those moments in the parking lot in Mountain Lakes, NJ, thirty something years ago.

I can’t do that to my children. And I won’t. Because I am going to be fine. Period.

The spaghetti sauce is done, I can smell it. I will put on the pasta, and salt the water, and take out the plates. Katy likes milk, Tue, her friend, only water. With one cube of ice. Colin asked me to make a plate for him to eat later.

As long as I can remember the important things, I’ll, we’ll be alright.

Post script  An hour after I wrote this, I was going thru the voicemail on my phone. Remember the wonderful swim team mom that had arranged to drive Katy? The arrangements I forgot and confirmed I was on the path to dementia? She’d left me a voice mail I’d never listened to. And the conversation about working on Mondays, well, I may not remember it, but it was a damn good idea. Monday off. Maybe I can’t afford a spa, but I can sleep in, go to the gym and spend a really long time in the sauna.

I’ll be allright, and on special occasions, amazing.