FIVE TRUTHS, ONE LIE: THE ANSWER

NaBloPoMo14DayTwentyOne

 

Which of the six “facts” that I posted yesterday is, in fact, a fiction?

FIVE TRUTHS, ONE LIE

1. I have never had a massage.
2. I purchase my underwear (and socks!) in the supermarket.
3. I have read “War and Peace”.
4. I am almost never late.
5. My dream job? Music historian.
6. I do not have a tattoo.

 

 

I HAVE NEVER HAD A MASSAGE

This is TRUE! Or, semi-true. Sure, my husband has given me the occasional back rub and this guy Anthony that I work with gives THE BEST neck rub, EVER! But a “real” massage? Never. Why? Partly this is because it feels like too much of an indulgence — of time and, yes, money. Mostly, though, it’s because the idea of it just kind of rubs me the wrong way. (Get it? Get it?)

I am the type of person who chafes at having my pulse taken. I find being touched by strangers slightly off-putting. Massages are supposed to be relaxing, right? Whenever I think about getting one all I can think about is being in a towel in front of a stranger — a stranger who is going to touch me. Not relaxing at all.

My daughter loves to get massages and has suggested that we go together over Christmas break. I told her I’d think about it. There will probably be a fire drill or something while I’m wearing nothing but a towel. Barring that, I’m sure something will strike me as strange or funny about the whole experience. If I do wind up joining Fangette in the massage room, I’ll be sure to write about it.

I PURCHASE MY UNDERWEAR (AND SOCKS!) IN THE SUPERMARKET

Sad, but TRUE! I’ve amped it up recently, broadened my horizons to include a couple of specialty stores, but when the chips are down (or the drawers have seen better days), I will resort to my old ways and pick up a package (or two!) while I’m food shopping. And, really, socks are socks for crying out loud! I’m not making a special trip to a department store or, God forbid, the mall to buy socks. Not when they sell the very same ones at the grocery store!

I HAVE READ “WAR AND PEACE”

This is FALSE! A couple of you guessed this one — Congratulations! To those of you who think I am well read enough to have gotten through this one, I say, “Thank you”.

To be honest — and we’re being honest now, right? — I’ve always meant to read it. My reason for not having read it has long been that I couldn’t possibly tote that enormous book around with me. Given that I do most of my reading on my iPad now, I don’t have much of an excuse anymore, do I? Well, actually, I do. As I’ve never read The Russians, I recently decided to read “Anna Karenina”, as a warm-up of sorts to tackling “War and Peace”. I found it incredibly soap operish — overly dramatic. I thought that, perhaps, I had chosen the wrong book and so I tried “Crime and Punishment”. It was no better, even given its weightier subject matter.

I suppose I could download “War and Peace”. I could give it a shot. If the other Russians are any indication, though, I fear that I may be mightily disappointed. And, really, who needs that? For what? Just so that I can say I’ve read “War and Peace”? Who cares?

I AM ALMOST NEVER LATE

This is TRUE! I abhor lateness. I judge the habitually late very harshly. I don’t buy the excuse that they are bad managers of time. Constant tardiness is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of egotism. It’s a “red flag” — a red flag that may as well be emblazoned with the words “I’m the most important person in the universe”. Guess what? You’re not the most important person in my universe. What you are, in reality, is a self-centered boob who, if there is a higher power at work, will die alone wondering where the hell everyone is. That they are stuck in traffic will be of little consolation to you, a person with only minutes left to live. Karma’s a real bitch, isn’t she?

MY DREAM JOB? MUSIC HISTORIAN

This is TRUE! I love history. I love music. Combine the two and BAM!, my dream job!

I don’t actually know if such a job description exists or, if it does, where a person who was qualified could be employed. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, perhaps? How cool would that be. Okay, I’d have to move to Cleveland, but for that job I would suck up living in Ohio. At least they have baseball. Following the Indians wouldn’t be that bad for a NY Mets’ fan, am I right? Plus, I understand that “Cleveland Rocks!”.

I DO NOT HAVE A TATTOO

While many of you guessed that this was the lie, it is TRUE! I’m not opposed to tattoos. I have even toyed with the idea of getting one over the years, but I never have. I think that I have remained untatted because I have never been able to decided on what tattoo I would like to have permanently emblazoned upon my skin. Forever is a long time. And I change my mind about stuff all the time. I’m never ready to order when the server arrives. If I like a sweater (and it’s a bargain) I am the person that buys it in two or three colors and this is only partly because I am lazy, mostly it is because I can’t decide which color I like best. Of the two I always wind up only wearing one of them. Do I even need to tell you that it is always the one I was not initially going to purchase. Yeah.

Not only am I a slow decision maker, I’m a poor decision maker.  Having something indelibly inked onto your body really should be reserved for folks who are 100% certain that they will be as happy thirty years down the line as they were the day they opted for an image of Kermit the Frog smoking a blunt. I am sure those people exist. I am not one of those people. It does my heart good that many of you think that I am, though. Yeah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meeting Vanessa

vanessaRecently, I had the opportunity to have one of those “in real life” meetings with one of my favorite bloggers — Vanessa “ethelthedean” Woznow of Rant and Roll. Several months ago we realized that Vanessa would be in my neck of the woods for a few days this summer. She would be visiting Brooklyn for her sister’s wedding; I live in northern New Jersey. Obviously, we couldn’t be so close and NOT get together — that would just be silly.

Vanessa carved out a couple of hours between helping her sister with her final wedding preparations and trying to see some of the sights of New York City. Since she was staying in Brooklyn, I decided that lower Manhattan would be the most convenient location for us to get together. Because I’m an idiot, I set the meeting for South Street Seaport.

Anyone who is familiar with my blog can attest to the fact that I’m not that big on paying attention. This particular chink in my armor is not a huge deal when I somehow fail to hear the clerk call out my deli number and, therefore, miss my chance at the rarest cut of roast beef. It is, however, kind of a pretty big deal when I send the lady from Vancouver to an area of Manhattan that was all but flattened by Hurricane Sandy.

My first clue that something was very wrong came when I realized that I was the only person roaming the neighborhood who wasn’t wearing a fluorescent vest and a hard hat. At first I thought (seriously, I thought this) that they were simply renovating the area. It wasn’t until I smelled the mold and the mildew that I took note of the fact that the streets looked like that classic episode of “The Brady Bunch” — the one where they stumble upon that abandoned mining town on their way to The Grand Canyon. Let’s just say that I wouldn’t have been surprised if I’d been approached by a grizzled old prospector offering me some “Fool’s gold”.

The night before our meeting I had, thankfully, Facebook messaged Vanessa and given her my phone number — “just in case”. Of course, I imagined she would only have to use it if she found herself running late or some such, I didn’t think she’d need to contact me to tell me that the giant chain restaurant  — the one that we had agreed to meet in front of — the one that had been sitting in the same spot for going on twenty years — was, indeed, “missing”. To be clear, it wasn’t just “missing” — in the sense that it was no longer in business. It was, quite simply, gone — as in, it’s now somewhere on the bottom of the East River or the Atlantic Ocean. It, along with the pier on which it once stood, was, in a testament to the power of hurricanes in general and Sandy in particular, washed away by the sheer force of the wind and the rain that accompanied the storm that, literally, rained devastation upon the eastern seaboard.

At some point on this cloudy and humid Monday, while scouring the area for signs of life, I realized that this day might also have a bit in the way of precipitation in store for us. And did it ever. It poured buckets. I know people say that all the time, but in this case it was true. The rain formed what can best be described as a “curtain” — separating the pier from the water — it was so fierce that, although I was standing at the foot of The Brooklyn Bridge, which, for those of you unfamiliar with this edifice, is no small structure — I couldn’t see it at all. Any of it. It was eclipsed by the deluge. Great!

Luckily, one of the piers, while it had suffered some damage, had just recently reopened for business. That’s where I found Vanessa and her party.

Somehow, my intrepid Canadian friends (Vanessa brought her mother and her husband over the bridge with her — bonus!) stumbled across what I could not — an open food vendor! When I found them they were replacing the processed sugar they had lost on their long, wet trip across the bridge. Fueled by cinnamon rolls and caffeinated beverages, we set about getting to know (more!) about each other.

Fang always worries about me whenever I agree to meet a “bloggy buddy” — as he likes to refer to them — in real life. I’ve met a few so far. Not one of them has turned out to be an axe murderer, but that doesn’t stop Fang from expressing his anxieties regarding what he characterizes as a sketchy practice. I’m happy to report that Vanessa, who didn’t even have room for an umbrella in her bag, was not, as far as I could tell, armed with anything more dangerous than a hair tie. If she is an axe murderer she hid it well.

We had a short, but enjoyable, visit. I learned that her husband knows far more about American history than most Americans — and certainly more than I know about Canadian history. He was as delightful as his wife. Vanessa’s mother was lovely as well — she struck me as an “up for anything” kind of gal.

Vanessa was funny, warm, energetic, intelligent, vivacious, and very tall, which is exactly how I expected her to be. I daresay she felt the same way about me. I can’t wait to see her the next time she’s in New York — hopefully we’ll manage to squeeze in more than an hour together and have a meal outside of a food court.

In terms of my husband and his concerns regarding axe-wielding Canadians, I’m happy that I didn’t suddenly and uncharacteristically choose to listen to him. If I’d done so, I would have missed out on meeting a truly fantastic person — and that would have been a real crime.

photo credit: me

Soldiering on Through “The Mommy Wars”

Recently I’ve been troubled by the resurgence of the “Mommy War” (as Lisa Endlich Heffernan refers to it) conversation. So have others. I have read many thoughtful essays by people that I have come to admire and respect, Lisa being one of them. Her, our, counterparts in other parts of the blogosphere have provided their own thoughtful insight into this always volatile topic — people like Sharon Hodor Greenthal, Jennifer Comet Wagner, Karen and Wendy Irving, to name a few. These are all women with whom I feel a kinship. I have, outside of the virtual world, had the opportunity to spend time with a couple of them — we’ve enjoyed each other’s company at lunches, dinners, and conferences. They are, in many ways, very much like me.

Still, I don’t fully agree with any of them.

I struggled with whether or not to add to this conversation — not because I don’t want to disagree with friends or because I have nothing valid to contribute, but because I would really prefer the whole “Mommy Wars” topic to go away. And then I thought about it. I concluded that most things, when ignored, don’t actually go away. Often they simply go underground — where, much like, fungi, they fester and they multiply.

Also, there seems to be a gaping hole in both sides of the argument. When I first read Lisa’s piece on “The Mommy War Within” several months back, what struck me was that she was addressing what I would consider to be a very elite group of women — women who were in a financial position to make the choice to either stay at home with their children or to remain in their high-powered jobs. They were fortunate — and I think they know it. Most women, myself included, didn’t have their choices.

I’m not saying that their choices came without consequences. Those that left the corporate world took a financial hit, both immediate and long-term. What they, and many others like them, are discovering now that their children are grown, is that it’s difficult, impossible even, to return to the workforce after a twenty-year absence to any job even resembling the one they left.

Women who chose to remain in the workforce — the ones who took advantage of the child care options that were available to them — sacrificed time spent with their children. For many, what they made in dollars they paid in guilt.

I didn’t know it then, but I was probably one of the lucky ones, as well — though I didn’t feel so lucky at the time. What I felt was exhausted — both physically and mentally. You see, I got to do both — I got to stay at home during the day and I had the pleasure of working at night. I was never able to “have it all”, though. I sacrificed sleep and, for many years, my mental health. It was hard. I didn’t have any other choice, though — not because I lacked education, but because I couldn’t use my degree in history for any type of work that would allow me to stay at home during the day. And no job that I was qualified for paid anything near what I would need to make to keep body and soul together. As a result, I remained underemployed in the service industry.

My husband was lucky, too. He had the opportunity to truly “parent” his child — while I was off slinging hash or mixing up martinis, he was responsible for all of the activities that I wasn’t home to coordinate — things like meals, bedtime rituals, and sports as she got older. He, too, held two jobs — and he was a better parent for having had these opportunities. I daresay that he was tired, too.

I, too, have regrets about the choices I made. I wish that my daughter had seen a woman who held a job that she loved — not just a job that held a paycheck. What I hope she did notice was that I spent a lot of years and a great deal of energy volunteering in organizations that had an impact on her community — and I did so with gusto, vigor, and, I hope, a fair amount of competence. In these years I also made lifelong friends — friendships that have sustained me and that continue to nurture me.

I don’t know whether or not the “Mommy Wars” will ever enjoy a cease fire, but I hope that the folks who are having the conversation will take into consideration the large percentage of women who never had the choices that were available to them. Some of us, for better or for worse, just soldiered on — we didn’t have the luxury of wondering whether or not we were doing the “right” thing. We were too busy doing “all” the things.

Welcome “Phantom Followers”, Whoever You Are!

file0001529578446Not that I’m complaining, mind you, but it seems that I’ve picked up quite a few followers over the past couple of weeks. Clearly, some of them are “bots” — this is obvious by the nondescript avatar image and the wacky comments. Others, though, at least appear legitimate. What I find strange is that they never like or comment on anything — they just seem to be blindly following. When I enjoy a blog, when I decide to “follow” someone’s blog, I usually make at least one comment — my way of “introducing” myself — and I almost always hit the “like” button after I read a post that I have enjoyed. In other words, if I follow a blog, I generally tend to read the blog. (I’ve made a few mistakes, hit “follow” prematurely, who hasn’t? But I do actually read most of the blogs that I follow. I then, at the very least, “like” the post, particularly when I’m in a hurry. When time permits I try to leave some kind of comment — even if it’s just a smiley face emoticon!)

There may be a valid reason that none of my new followers are commenting. A few visits to some of their blogs has revealed that many of them are not native English speakers. For some inexplicable reason, I am gaining popularity among folks whose blogs are written in some kind of Eastern European language. (Serbian? Latvian? I don’t know.) At first I thought that, perhaps, they were working on their English language skills. (Frankly, I wouldn’t recommend my blog for ESL students — my writing tends toward the idiomatic with a healthy dash of regionalism!) Insofar as I would like to think that my blog has been stumbled upon by the odd English teacher in Riga or Budapest, my stats would indicate otherwise — in that I have almost no visitors from this part of the world.

Initially I thought that maybe a lot of these folks were new to blogging and were simply trying to obtain followers themselves. (They are barking up the wrong tree with me there — I am a discriminating follower. I don’t just follow someone to follow them. Like I said above — I actually try to read the posts and engage with the bloggers of the blogs that I follow.) These people are tough out of luck if they think that just because they chose to follow me that I’m going to follow them without at least glancing at their blogs. I’m a busy woman. I can’t just willy-nilly follow everyone. Sheesh! I’d never get any laundry done — or get to work — or get any sleep — for God’s sakes!

I’m sure that I have followers that I don’t follow myself, just as I follow and read any number of blogs authored by writers who do not follow me. I would argue that it makes for a richer experience if the follower/followee relationship is a two-way street, but it is not required. I don’t take it personally. Just because I enjoy someone’s blog doesn’t mean that they have to involve themselves in mine. Maybe I’m not their cup of tea. That’s fine. I’m a big girl. I can take it.

So, what gives? Is anyone else experiencing the same thing with regard to these “phantom followers”? What are your thoughts on the matter?

For those of you who are, indeed, honest to goodness new followers who just don’t have the time or are not in the habit of commenting — please accept my apologies. To you I say, “Welcome!” To the rest of you, I would request that you “Hit the bricks!” I don’t blog to pump up my numbers; I blog to tell my stories. I enjoy the give-and-take of interacting with my peeps.

For those of you Lithuanians, Croatians, or Bosnians who are sincerely trying to improve your language skills by reading my blog, let me provide a few translations. Think of it as my way of saying “Thanks for visiting!”

“Barking up the wrong tree”
means that you are looking in the wrong place for something. If you hear this expression, particularly if you are in a social situation and, are, for example enamored of the big, muscular fellow that you’ve ponied up next to at the bar AND if you, too, have a penis — and this gentleman tells you, in what will possibly be a menacing tone, that you are “barking up the wrong tree”, I would advise you to “hit the bricks” (the meaning of which will be described later) — and you should do so as quickly as possible.

“Tough out of luck”
means that there is zero chance of something happening. Again, using the example above, it doesn’t matter how dreamy muscle man might be, you are “tough out of luck” if you think that he’s ever going home with you. Again, “hitting the bricks” will be an effective method of extricating yourself from this situation.

“Willy-Nilly”
refers to an act performed in a disorganized or an indiscriminate manner. This is how you will have to run toward the exit door if you do not heed the above advice and Muscle Mike decides to take matters to a more physical level. This will NOT be the physicality you were hoping for when you set your sights on Muscles McGee.

“Hit the bricks!”
means you should go away. (Related expressions are “Scram!”, “Get lost!”, “Take a long walk off of a short pier”.) If you hear any of these expressions, especially if they are uttered by your unrequited love, do head immediately to the nearest exit or, at a minimum, find the folks you came in with — there is usually safety in numbers.

“Peeps”
as used above, is slang for “people” — a Google search of the word “peeps” will result in images of brightly colored marshmallow baby chickens — these are not the “peeps” to which I refer — while it might be interesting, I’m not sure how, exactly, one would go about “interacting” with a confection. It will have been beneficial to you, if you heeded the advice given under the heading “Hit the bricks” and sought out your own “peeps”, especially if Biceps Billy suddenly appears to be surrounded by his. As is often the case, “like” often attracts “like”. You will surely be outmuscled by the likes of these guys.

photo credit:
map of the world

Here’s to hoping for the best

glassesclinkingI never write about not being able to write, but today I feel the need to make an exception (along with my apologies for not having read what you folks are writing, which feels more terrible than not posting). I’m not blocked, exactly. I’ve got a few musings in the hopper, so to speak — just nothing that’s ready for prime time, if you know what I mean. I’ve just been busy with other things. I wish I could say they were more important things, life-changing things. Some of them are. The hovel purge continues. So, that’s good. This activity feels both important and life-changing. We shall see. Getting more organized will ultimately be a good thing. I know this. It’s just the process that’s daunting. I’m hopeful, though. Having hope is always a positive thing. Unless, of course you are the type of person who sits around hoping for bad things to happen, like the death of your enemies or nuclear destruction. Luckily, I’m not that type of person. I figure the world will wreak it’s own havoc on my enemies. I can’t muster up the necessary time and energy to worry over the nuclear thing. If it happens, it happens. I assume it will be quick. I think that’s the best that we can all hope for on that subject.

Besides being hard at work on getting my house in order, I have also been up to my usual idiocy. Mostly, I’ve been doing those absent-minded professor things for which I am (semi) famous. Not once, but twice this week, I engaged in some footwear tomfoolery. First I headed out of the house in two different shoes. I wish I could tell you that they were so similar that I became confused in the dark, but that would be a lie. First of all it was broad daylight, second of all the were two very different colors. In my defense they were both sneakers, however, one was black and one was white. Fortuitously, I caught myself just outside my front door and was able to rather easily rectify the situation. I wish I could tell you that this is the first time I’ve done this. It’s not. A couple of years ago I did the very same thing with the very same shoes, only that time I wasn’t as lucky in terms of noticing what I’d done. That time I made it all the way to Target before I realized that I was wearing two very different shoes.

I was not as eagle-eyed when it came to putting my Uggs on the wrong feet. I have performed this feat of stupidity twice over the past couple of days. Okay, I was only running to the corner store or to the laundry room, but still, who does this once, let alone twice? Further, I will have you know that I only discovered it when I began to actually trip over my own two feet.

I have, for the most part, been successfully bathing/showering myself for over forty years. Why suddenly it’s become a problem for me, I couldn’t tell you, but it appears that I may no longer be up to the task. Again, not once, but twice this week I failed at something that most people manage to accomplish on a daily basis as a matter of course. I’ve had to take up focusing and concentrating in the shower, otherwise I am liable to either not shampoo my hair at all or to not rinse my hair of the shampoo that I miraculously remembered to apply. What person of normal intelligence does this?

I wish that these minor memory glitches, which I have decided to attribute to preoccupation, rather than a peri-menopausal state or my advancing age, only reared their ugly head at home (or at the corner store, or on my way down to the laundry room), but they haven’t. No. My foray into the land of forgetfulness has followed me to work where, on several occasions, I have simply failed to either order a customer’s food or to bring them something integral to their dining needs. My sincere, profuse and heartfelt apologies were accepted by these kind and generous people, none of whom were pressed for time or unduly attached to eating ketchup on their cheeseburgers. So, outside of looking like a ditzy waitress, no harm, no foul. Thankfully no one flipped out. I don’t know what I would have done if they had. A crying jag cannot be ruled out.

As much as I want to believe that none of this is hormonal, I know that’s not true. And I know it’s not true because of the crying. I would say that I’m an average crier or, more to the point, an appropriate crier. I’ll admit that I sometimes find crying cathartic. I’ll confess that sometimes the Sleepy’s commercial gets me to feeling a little weepy — the one where they do the montage of the couple as they age and their children grow while “In My Life” plays in the background. That one. I also really miss Oprah. That show was usually good for an afternoon cry. And, obviously, I have been known to cry when faced with personal loss. I’m not made of stone. I’m just not the sort of person who bursts into tears on anything resembling a regular basis (at least since Oprah went off the air, that is).

Lately, though, I have found myself either on the verge of tears or full-out crying on several occasions. A couple of times were out of sheer frustration with my husband who, it seems, has made a resolution to become a complete and utter asshole this year. I don’t really know what is going on with him and, frankly, I’m too fed up at the moment to care. I’m sure his behavior is related to my efforts at organization. Don’t get me wrong, he wants things more organized, he just doesn’t want to do any work or spend any money to make it happen. He has also grown fond of the word “stupid” and has begun to apply it liberally to many of the changes that I’ve suggested for living space. After a while the word “stupid” (not applied to me, per se, just to my ideas) began to grate on my last nerve. I got frustrated. I cried. He apologized. He then proceeded to continue to thwart me at every turn. So, I’ve resolved to just let him go on being an asshole. I’ll work around him.

My daughter, God love her, perhaps sensing the tension in her parents’ normally placid relationship, said something the other day that literally brought me to tears. I know that my kid has a kind and generous heart, mostly because that’s what other people tell me. At home she is snarky, mouthy, and self-centered, but when she goes out into the world she demonstrates altogether other qualities. (Don’t we all?) Normally, like most any adolescent who knows that she is unconditionally loved, her behavior at home can be beastly. So, imagine my surprise, when she looked me straight in the eye, put her hand on my shoulder (I was, literally, knee deep in plastic container sorting) and said, “Mom, I’m so proud of you.” I could barely choke out a “Thank you” before she noticed me crying. I’m happy to report that she got back to her old self right away, rolling her eyes and calling me “ridiculous” on her way out of the kitchen. And I did feel ridiculous. There she was, being nice — finally! — and all I could do was burst into tears. So, I guess that’s the last compliment I’ll get out of her for a while.

Anyway, this about sums up what I’ve been up to (or not up to) this week. It’s time to sign off now, as I have to attend to showering, carefully choosing my shoes, and relocating my dishes to a place that will, no doubt, be called stupid by my husband. I also must try very hard to get through the dinner shift without incident. And I have to do all of this without crying. I’m going to hope for the best.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Sleepy’s commercial referenced above:

photo credits:
glasses clinking (zazzle.com)

My Exciting Thursday

moodfabriclogoSomewhat guiltily, I shoved aside hovel purging and did a few more interesting things yesterday — not, perhaps, as necessary as hovel purging, but, still in all, far less mundane and back-breaking than filling more bags and boxes with the detritus of my life. Following what turned out to be a bus ride that had it’s equivalent in the expression “slow boat to China”, I went to Mood Fabrics in NYC and drooled over toiles, velvets, and the hundreds of other beautiful fabrics they have to offer. For a fabric hound such as myself, there is no better place to while away a few hours than on West 37th Street in Manhattan. Maybe they have more toile at, say, The Palace at Versailles, but I suspect that they would frown upon my clipping a swatch. Mood and the other fabric stores in the area actually encourage the swatching that will, no doubt, land you in a French prison. (I wonder if they still use The Bastille?). Also, I can’t just hop on the 163 Local to gaze at the toiles enjoyed by Louis XIV and his ilk. Sampling the Versailles toiles and enjoying three hots and a cot on the French government would require airline travel and a passport. I’m adventurous, but I’m not THAT adventurous. Frankly, I was antsy on the OVER ONE HOUR bus ride to the city (see “slow boat to China” reference above) — it normally takes about 45 minutes midday — a seven-hour plane ride would be out of the question.

I spent an hour trying to find the Joe Fresh location that was supposed to be on 34th and Fifth. They were supposed to be having a sale on sweaters. And they don’t sell online. (Can you even imagine?) There was no Joe Fresh on 34th Street or anywhere in the surrounding area. No one that I asked had ever heard of such a store. I did, however, manage to stumble upon a place called The Manhattan Mall. I only ventured in because I thought that Joe Fresh might be tucked away inside of it. It wasn’t. Don’t worry, though, I didn’t come home empty-handed. I still managed to feed my cashmere addiction at, of all places, JC Penney. (You all need to check out what they’ve done to JC Penney — it’s not just Worthington anymore, boys and girls!) I managed to leave the store with a cashmere sweater for myself and one for my daughter. And, GET THIS, it only cost me $40 total. Forty bucks for TWO cashmere sweaters. Unheard of.

I downed a delicious and much needed vanilla latte at Starbuck’s on 33rd Street (the one thatstarbuckslogo is literally in the shadow of The Empire State Building). I even managed to have a moment of self-awareness and a mini-adventure in the bathroom line. In a city known for its dearth of public restrooms, Starbuck’s should be commended for the fact that they have at least one in all of their locations (at least the one’s that I’ve been in). Also, there is no need to ask a barrista for a key nor have I ever seen a sign indicating that only Starbuck’s customers are welcome to use the facilities. This appeals to my sense of fairness and democracy. While I applaud the Starbuck’s bathroom policy in theory, the reality, as is often the case, is somewhat different, especially when this reality has a direct and deleterious effect on me. (Communism looks great on paper until you’re the one subjected to a lifetime of potato peeling based solely on your inability to read as well as some of your classmates in the first grade!) So, there I was. About to break out into the “pee-pee” dance in the shadow of one of the greatest architectural wonders of the Western world when it hit me that I am not as egalitarian as I like to think I am. As excellent corporate policies tend to do (Rite-Aid takes back opened/used cosmetics — no questions asked!) word has gotten out regarding Starbuck’s lax lavatory regulations. And not just to the folks that work in the area. No. Word has spread to those folks that live in the area. More specifically, word has gotten around to the local homeless population.

I have nothing against the homeless. In fact I think it’s shameless that there are homeless and hungry people living in this country at all. That being said, I must tell you that yesterday at Starbuck’s I harbored a fair amount of ill will against a few homeless people who had managed to scooch in front of me on the restroom line. And scooch they did. One minute I was alone and next in line for the W.C., the next minute they were in front of me. I honestly have no idea how this happened. Perhaps I was daydreaming or looking at The Empire State Building. Maybe I had a small seizure. I really couldn’t tell you. All I know is that they had somehow taken up residence ahead of me. Sure, I could have said something. I could have made a scene. But I’m a middle-class, middle-aged suburban white woman who has never even considered voting for a Republican. Tangling with homeless people in a public place istheempirestatebuilding just not my style.

I should have taken it as a bad sign when I watched as the two women went into the loo together. I should add that they did so with all of their goods and wares in tow. This, as you might imagine, took some time and maneuvering. Oh, and there was still one more poor soul with his cartful of supplies ahead of me. I weighed my choices. I could stay where I was or I could make the mad dash across Fifth Avenue to the Starbuck’s across the street. It was a classic case of choosing the known versus the unknown. I opted for the former. At the end of the day, I don’t know whether or not I made the right decision, having no knowledge of the goings on across Fifth Avenue. Though I imagined, as I stood there with a nearly exploding bladder (why? why? why? did I order a Venti? A less gluttonous person would have gone for the Breve!) that there was no line for their, more likely, swanky and sumptuous facility. I had, by this time, reached the point of no return. It was too late to get across the street in anything resembling a dry state. Having already shopped for sweaters and been successful, I could not imagine that I would have the same luck procuring new jeans and underwear (and, God forbid!, socks), but don’t think I didn’t consider it.

I stayed put and counted the minutes (13!) that the pair spent in what I was beginning to think was a mirage of a lavatory. I assumed that they were showering and doing some laundry. I cannot tell you how disappointed I was when they finally emerged (only to have their bedraggled compatriot go in behind them) looking much the same as when they had entered. For whatever reason, this annoyed me. I expected to see that they had at least made some minor improvements to their appearances. So, there I was, judging the homeless, tapping my foot, doing some kegel exercises, and, I am sure, rolling my eyes when one of the fine folks who is employed by Starbuck’s actually took notice of my discomfort and allowed me to use the employee bathroom. He was not wearing a name tag and I plum forgot to ask him his name. Whoever he was, I would just like to say that he is a fine human being who, in addition to rescuing a soon-to-be covered in urine person from her latte excesses, also has excellent taste in footwear. His patent leather kicks were to die for! Also, he wouldn’t even hear of taking the tip I proffered after emerging from the restroom. Who says New Yorkers don’t have a heart?

On most days this young man and the kindness that he showed me would have been the highlight of my day. But not yesterday. No. Yesterday I had the pleasure of being surrounded by exciting people. You see, the reason that I went to the city at all was to have dinner with a group of women from GenFab. GenFab is a Facebook group of (mostly) women of my generation. We’re not Boomers. We’re not Gen-Xers. We’re the ones that fall in between. I came to be a part of this group a few months ago at the urging of my friend and fellow blogger, Amanda Fox, over at The Fur Files. (Thanks, Fern!) They are a great group of supportive, talented, and wonderful women. Over the last few months they have been working on launching a website dedicated to issues that are pertinent to our age group. (Don’t worry, I’ll promote the launch!) They asked for contributions and have agreed to publish one of mine. This is not what drove me to join them for dinner last night, though. No. I really just wanted to be in the company of these dynamic women. (I’m hoping some of it will rub off on me!) They were all so welcoming and, given their accomplishments, not the least bit pretentious. Usually at 8 o’clock on a Thursday evening I am apologizing to some moron for bringing him what he ordered and/or dealing with my immature co-workers while covered in the barbecue sauce that I had spilled on my shirt during the lunch shift. Do I need to tell you what a nice departure this was from that? I didn’t think so.

genfabdinnernyc2713This was first “in real life” meeting with folks that I have met through blogging. I won’t lie, the idea of this was a little daunting. More daunting, though, was knowing that I was going to meet virtual strangers, most of whom I admired. For a couple of weeks prior to the dinner I was both excited and a little bit worried. I thought about dying my hair, getting my nails done, wearing better clothes, whitening my teeth, and making other adjustments to my appearance. Basically, I wondered if I should change who I ultimately am. In the end I decided to just be myself, warts and all. I’m happy to report that it went well. I don’t think anyone cared that my hair was in need of a dye job and that my nails were in need of a manicure. If my teeth weren’t white enough, no one mentioned it. And my attire? It was fine. Here’s the thing: these women were more interested in WHO I was than in what I was wearing. Many of them seemed genuinely interested. And some of them had even read my blog. And they admitted not just to reading it, but to actually liking it. Wow!

So, now comes the hard part. I really want to mention, by way of a “thank you”, everyone that I met last night. I want to encourage you to read their blogs and their books, subscribe to their web magazines, watch their movies, and, just generally, get to know them, but I fear that I will leave someone out. I’ve decided to put that fear aside and not squander this opportunity to promote them and GenFab. I’ll do the best I can and list everyone that I can remember. If I forget any of you, please remind me who you are and what your blog/website is and I will update my list. I promise you that my intention is not to exclude anyone! For those of you who fall into this “fabulous” generation, consider joining GenFab. You won’t regret it.

Better After 50
Grown and Flown
An Empowered Spirit
The Chloe Chronicles
stylesubstancesoul
Connect with your teens through technology
The Louise Log
Relocation: The Blog
100 Sleepless Nights
Books is Wonderful
Second Lives Club
Oh Boy Mom
Boomer Wizdom

photo credits: starbucks logo (starbucks.com), The Empire State Building , GenFab dinner pic (Cathy Chester), Mood Fabric logo (fashion how-to.com)

How I Met My Husband: GenFab Blog Hop

80shairI don’t remember the exact details, but I know that I was refusing to go to the club that summer Sunday evening. My friend, K, who had promised to meet up with “Mr. Right Now” had other ideas. I had just come off of my first real heartbreak and was really in no mood for the dating scene. So, I wasn’t going to go. And I wouldn’t have gone, except that she needed a ride. Grudgingly, I took her to the club. I told her to go inside and find whoever it was she was trolling for and I would wait outside until I got the thumbs up from her that it was safe to leave. She came out a few minutes later to tell me that he wasn’t there, but that she KNEW he’d be coming. Couldn’t I just come in and wait with her until he got there? “Ugh!”, I remember thinking, “Why do I have to be such a good friend?” For sure most people would have just left her there, but I couldn’t do it. Plus, if he didn’t show up, I’d just have to come all the way back to get her. So, in I went.

I was not dressed for “clubbing” in the ’80s. I had on a tank top, sweatpants, jelly sandals, no make-up, and my hair wasn’t even teased or shellacked, nor was I wearing the requisite Jersey Girl bow. (After the big break up I had actually gone “punk”— short hair, shaved at the sides, but with a long pink tail that I braided down my back. I am fairly certain that all photographic evidence of that particular hair style has been obliterated— at least I hope so!) In any case, I was a sight. But, in I trudged for what I was hoping would be a short stay. I got a beer and hung out on the sidelines, like the proverbial wallflower. I did not want to engage with or be seen by anyone. I thanked God it was dark in there.

Within a few minutes my cover was blown. Someone with whom I was acquainted (we’ll call him B1) came over and asked me why I was hiding in the corner. I explained to him the circumstances under which I had found myself there at all. He shook his head in an understanding way (he, too, knew K) and asked me to join him and some friends. (They had found a coveted table!) He introduced me around. Ho-hum.

One of the guys told me I looked familiar and asked me if I had worked at the local supermarket. I told him that I had, indeed, worked there. He said that he had worked there for several years, so he must have seen me there. “Yeah, that must be it”, I replied. I can’t help but think that I must have been delightful company. At this point I spied my friend talking to a guy. “Great!”, I thought, “I can leave now.” Of course, this guy turned out to be just A guy, not THE guy. So, I went back to the table for more pointless and boring conversation about where we all knew each other from.

At some point, “Dancing in the Dark” came on. I think I said something along the lines of, “I love this song.” The supermarket worker (we’ll call him B2) asked me if I wanted to dance. Up to then I had really not been all that engaged in the conversation and I felt bad because he seemed like a nice enough guy, so I said, “Sure. What the hell.” We danced. We talked. As it turned out, he was a pretty nice guy.

We returned to the table to discover that someone new had joined us. I knew this woman, F. She was actually friends with K. I was pretty psyched to see her because I just wanted to get the hell out of there and I figured she could take K home. F agreed. She told me that she was supposed to be meeting someone there, a blind date. F wanted me out of there nearly as much as I wanted to be out of there. Because F and I had a weird history. The night that I had met my former boyfriend, it was she who had dragged me to a party to meet this “awesome guy” that she had connected with the night before. As it happens, I met an “awesome guy” at that party and dated him for two years. Unfortunately, my “awesome guy” turned out to be her “awesome guy” from the night before (in the end he didn’t turn out to be all that “awesome”, either— still, he was cute and she was pissed). Oops!

During the scintillating conversation with B1 and B2, prior to F arriving, it was established that B2 and I actually lived a couple of blocks away from each other, on the same street even. When I saw my opportunity to leave the club, B2 told me that he had come with B1, but since I lived so close, would I mind dropping him off? Early shift at the supermarket and all that. I agreed.

As we were walking out, there was a line of people waiting to get into the club. As we were passing the line, someone grabbed my hand and said, “We should talk.” My former boyfriend. In the flesh. We hadn’t seen or spoken to each other in months. It was the strangest thing. Because up until that point I would have done just about anything to see and/or speak to him again. In that moment, when the opportunity presented itself, instead of telling B2 that he would have to go back in and get a ride home with B1, I said, “Sorry. The Chestnut Street Express is leaving. And, what would we talk about exactly?” It was liberating and exhilarating.

As B2 and I got into my car, he looked at me and said, “Now you look like the girl I remember. You’re smiling. It’s your best feature.” I was confused. “Remember?”, I asked. He said, “Yes. I told you before I remembered you from the supermarket.” “No”, I said, “You told me that I looked familiar.” “No”, he said, “I remember you. How could anyone forget you?”

He’s spent the next 28 years making sure that I never forget him.

P.S. The guy that F was there to meet up with? Her blind date? B2! He revealed to me on the ride home that she was the reason he wanted to leave so suddenly, that she wasn’t his type. That was the first time I wanted to smack him, but surely not the last. (So much for “Mr. Nice Guy!”) Oh, and not that I blame her, but F? She never spoke to me again.

THIS IS A BLOG HOP! <<<Click for more info!

Here are some more posts from the blog hop. Enjoy!

How—and Why—I Met My Husband – Empty House Full Mind

How I Met My Husband – Books Is Wonderful

How I Met My Husband – CarPool Goddess

Shopping at the Man Store – Midlife 2nd Wife

A Date with Destiny – The Giggling Truckers Wife

Soul Mates and Angels – Connie McLeod

How I met the Big Bison – Wild Life In The Woods

How I Met My Husband – The Boomer Rants

The Love Story With A Warning Label – The Chloe Chronicles

How We Met – Joy’s Book Blog

How I Met The Men Of My Dreams – Daily Plate Of Crazy

Joe And Heidi – Did You Exercise Today?

Bald Men Have The Prettiest Wives – Home Place

It Takes Two To Make a Thing Go Right – The Fur Files

Blind Date = My Fate – Forever 51

Rites of Passage: Mid-life Marriage – juliedanis.com

Over 50 and Happy – Wanna Wrestle?

The One Night Stand That Lasted 25 Years – Really Real Atlanta Housewife

Don’t I Know You? – Life on Wry

photo credits:80’s hair