In Search of… The Perfect Pair of Flip-Flops

flipflops“Aaaaahhhhh!”, said my feet, as I slipped them into what I had determined was the perfect pair of flip-flops.

You shouldn’t underestimate the power of the perfect pair of flip-flops. Nor should you assume that one’s ability to find such an item can be done with anything resembling alacrity. They don’t just jump off the shelf at the first shoe store, for crying out loud! No. They hide out in the hidden recesses of the fourteenth or (sometimes!) the fortieth store you enter. Like the “little black dress”, a decent pair of flip-flops is integral to any wardrobe. And can be just as elusive.

There are any number of versions of the “little black dress”, so it’s easy to understand why a person can spend her life searching for one. Flip-flops, on the other hand, because they are, by their very nature, a simple configuration of sole and thong, should be a far easier thing to stumble upon. Except that they’re not. At least not for me.

The main reason that I have so much trouble finding ANY flip-flop, let alone the “perfect” flip-flop, is genetic. If you were to look at my feet, you’d probably be surprised to discover that, although they share a hairline, my father is NOT, in fact, Fred Flintstone. Flip-flops are foot-shaped, my feet are, like Fred’s, brick-shaped. They resemble unfinished pieces of sculpture — like the artist, after chiseling out the toes, got bored or, possibly even died, prior to shaving the proper amount of granite off of the sides.

The shape of my feet, or lack thereof, has not been enhanced by a lifetime of working on my them, either. What little arch I started out with in life is now almost nonexistent. This means that while others can wander around in $2.50 Old Navy flip-flops, I require something a little more substantial — something that fools my brain into thinking that my feet have an arch.

I am also afflicted with a chronic case of plantar fasciitis. You can look it up. Suffice it to say, “it sucks”. I very often feel like I’m walking on broken glass. Luckily, my case is milder than most — it only flares up once in a while. Wearing the wrong shoes, though, — like flat, unsupportive flip-flops — is sure to bring it on. Trust me, no one wants that. Because it makes me miserable. And I’m not the type to suffer in silence.

As if I don’t have enough problems, I also have a recurring issue with a couple of corns. They take up residence from time to time between my fourth and my fifth toes. I’ve entertained the notion of obtaining those “toe” shoes to keep this annoyance at bay, but I have it on good authority that NO ONE will be seen with me while I’m wearing these! It’s tempting, though. Some days, choosing between a friendless life of loneliness and despair or not being agitated by corns, seems a no-brainer. What I have discovered is that if my shoes are wide enough, but not TOO wide, at the top, I can keep the corns from growing so large that they actually resemble an extra toe!

Finding a pair of flip-flops that have an arch to combat my flat-footedness, are padded enough to alleviate the plantar fasciitis, and are wide enough to keep the corns from forming is a nearly impossible task, particularly if you also want them to look somewhat stylish. It goes without saying that I want them to be fashionable. Why bother with expensive and time-consuming pedicures if you can’t show off the results by sporting some cute-ass flip-flops?

That I go through this every year is mind-boggling. But, I do. Because flip-flops stretch out over the course of the winter. I don’t know why. I’m sure there’s some perfectly reasonable scientific explanation for this. My theory, less scientific but certainly more plausible, is that Hobbits sneak underneath my bed, raid my flip-flop stash, and wear them on their adventures. Searching for rings and saving Middle Earth requires footwear. Hobbits are the only creatures, outside of cartoon characters, who have uglier feet than I do.

Yesterday, after trying on about one-hundred pairs — ranging in price, might I add, from $14.99 to $55.00 — I finally found a pair that fit all of my criteria AND only cost $24.99! I was really happy with them. Until I got them home and modeled them for Fangette, who immediately asked me why I had purchased “orthopedic” shoes. My first reaction was to argue with her, to tell her that they were not “orthopedic”, that they were “cute”. And then I took a second look at them. That’s when I realized that she was right. They weren’t cute at all. But here’s the thing — they fit and they’re comfortable! So, I’m keeping them. In fact, I may even go back to the store and buy them in another color!

It hasn’t escaped my notice that being satisfied with comfort and fit or the fact that I can no longer be trusted to deem a shoe “cute”, is a sure sign that I’m middle-aged. Cool. I’ve always wanted a pair of Birkenstock’s.

photo credit: flip flops (me)

Finding MY Voice

photo credit:

photo credit:

I cannot seem to please people lately. I constantly fall short. The strange thing is that I honestly don’t care. There was a time when I would have pretended to care; a time when I would have made an attempt at chagrin or taken a stab at apologetic. Not anymore.

My newfound breeziness may be a result of something as simple as the maturity that comes with age, but I don’t think so. I’ve been “mature” for a good while now. No. It’s definitely something else.

It could be plain old ennui or my old friend stubbornness, except that these characteristics generally result in feelings that I would never describe as “breezy” and usually lead me down entirely different, less positive, paths — paths with street names like “Screw You! Lane” and “Get Outta My Face! Boulevard”. I won’t lie — there is a certain satisfaction in roads that end in these locations, it’s just not where I find myself at present.

I’m no psychologist, but I think it’s safe to say that I can attribute my current “zeitgeist” to two things. One being the “hovel purge”, the other being writing this blog.

The whole “out with the old and in with the new” attitude that the hovel purge has engendered is incredibly liberating. Sorting, tossing, reorganizing, and, yes, “prettying up”, our living space has been an arduous, expensive, and time-consuming task, but one that has left me incredibly satisfied. I’ve learned that some things are worth holding on to as they are, that a few things can be given new life with something as simple as a can of paint, and that others, regardless of my emotional attachment to them, simply need to be set free.

It hasn’t escaped my notice that those same activities — sorting, tossing, reorganizing, and “prettying up” can be applied to writing, as well as to redecorating. It’s not accidental that my writing has become more substantive since embarking upon my household reorganization project. I have come to the conclusion that some ideas, like side tables, should be let loose. Ridding myself of the detritus, both physical and mental, has been very therapeutic.

My foray into redecorating has resulted in some success — I’m particularly keen on the little vanity bench that I reupholstered. And the “faux window seat”? Awesome. I’ve had some failures — alas, the painted cocktail table will have to go. That’s what life’s about though, isn’t it? Finding what works?

In terms of the writing, I’ve found some things that work. I’m discovering my voice. I’ve crafted some pieces that I am proud to have written and, frankly, stunned that I was able to produce. Discovering my voice has made me brave and strong and confident — braver than I ever dreamed I could be, stronger than I knew I was, more confident than I have ever been.

My decorating sensibilities, my writing style, my approach to inter-personal relationships — they’re not for everybody. They are uniquely me. For the first time in my life, I’m absolutely fine with that.

For anyone who is interested, these posts are all related to the “hovel purge”!:
Alas! We’re Not Those Sort of People!
What Passes For Normal On An Ordinary Saturday
Here’s To Hoping For the Best!
Things That Are Worth Holding On To
Trading One Addiction For Another.
Mother of the Year.
My Husband Is Much Nicer Than His Wife.
What Fang Doesn’t Know: I Was a Pre-School Tracing Prodigy!
My “Relaxing” Weekend Off!
Miss Marge’s One-Armed Vanity Chair Redo

My Bucket Brigade

friendsIt hit me square in the face the other night — midlife has changed me. It has sanded my rough edges into more rounded corners and provided me with opportunities for greater awareness. I had one of those “Aha!” moments that I’ve heard people speak of — okay, I’ve mainly heard Oprah speak of such epiphanies, but still, I had one! I can safely say that I do not think I had been open to this sort of thing until recently. Instead of being annoyed and bored while attending a fundraising event, in lieu of my usual whining and kvetching, I took some time amidst the chaos to make some observations, to reach some conclusions.

Of course the meal was lousy. The diet soda was flat and no doubt some off-label brand. (“Diet Smoke” maybe?) The coffee might have been drinkable, if the creamer had not arrived on a much, much later train.

The number of people that they had managed to pack into such a small space gave me a new appreciation for my ancestors — the Irish ones who came to America in steerage. I have a strange habit — I often admonish myself in “brogue”. Silently and in my best Irish accent, I kept hearing my inner voice say “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, Eileen! What the feck are ya doin’ here?”

Twelve of us were squished at a table that was probably meant for eight. A tin horn and a megaphone, neither of which I thought to throw in my purse, would have come in handy just for making simple requests — requests like, “Can you please plop some more of that there “Diet Smoke” into my thimble-sized glass? Thanks a million!” Engaging in any type of meaningful conversation with some of my oldest and dearest friends — the friends who had convinced me how much fun I would have throwing tickets into prize baskets for things I neither want nor have any use for — was, quite simply, out of the question.

When my number was drawn, it wasn’t me who noticed. Had it not been for one of my more alert companions, someone else would be enjoying “A Free Evening of Bingo!” in the future. And that’s when it hit me. That’s when I looked around the table and thought about how we’ve always had each other’s backs. Always.

I’ve known these women going on fifteen years and there has never been a time when we’ve let each other down. Not once. Not ever. It wouldn’t occur to us to do so.

We’ve been through a lot together. We’ve dealt with things like divorce, disease, addiction, legal trouble, caring for aging parents. Some of us have lost a parent or someone equally dear to us. We have all struggled with raising our children. Most of our career paths have changed. Many of us have experienced altered fortunes — some for the better, some for the worse. We have leaned on each other, spoken up for one who couldn’t or wouldn’t speak up for herself, cried with and for each other, and, most importantly, laughed with each other.

Truthfully, we have even good-naturedly laughed AT each other! There is almost nothing funnier than imagining your friend, once you know she wasn’t seriously injured, laying in a heap at the bottom of the basement stairs covered in dirty laundry. Being able to conjure this image each and every time you see her hobbling along in her lovely orthopedic boot? Hysterical.

Or the time that another friend in what I can only imagine was a moment of extreme haste and/or a dire mirror shortage, showed up at our children’s school wearing EVERY single color of the rainbow. Every single one. Explaining to her, as kindly as possible, that it was not, in fact, “ROYGBIV Day”, while trying NOT to turn your white sweatpants urine-colored? Priceless.

Don’t worry. They laugh at me, too. Mostly, though, they laugh with me.

When I was first married someone told me that the key to a successful marriage lies in finding balance. To elucidate this point, I was told to imagine that we were given two buckets — one full, one empty. In a good marriage, the person with the full bucket will cede half of its contents to the person with the empty bucket. Over time, one bucket might become fuller, the other emptier — the job of the person with the fuller bucket should always be to fill the other person’s bucket to the halfway line. In a good marriage, both parties should be generous givers and grateful recipients. This may well be the best piece of advice I have ever been given.

I have always taken notice of how the “bucket theory” applies to all of the relationships in my life. Over the years I’ve had to cut some people loose — the ones who are willing to extract the last drop from my bucket, the ones who are unable to part with any measure of theirs, or the ones who simply never noticed how empty mine had become. When I looked around the table the other night, it occurred to me that we had managed, not only through our ability to sense when someone else’s bucket has been in need of replenishment, but through our willingness to share the contents of our own, to create something miraculous — the lasting, enduring, and lifelong friendship.

It occurs to me now that I should have lifted my glass of “Diet Smoke” the other night and toasted these women. That I should have celebrated them by reciting my own version of The Irish Blessing. It would have gone something like this:

Here’s to you,
My dear and fabulous friends.
My very own “bucket brigade”.
Long may we live and laugh and cherish each other!

May I be there should you fall.
May mine be the hand you reach for
or the shoulder you lean on.’

Yours are the voices I want to hear
When times are trying.
Yours are the joyful faces I want to see
When the news is good.

Here’s to knowing that our buckets will never run dry!

photo credit:

My Fountain of Youth

Ponce de Leon and The Fountain of Youth

Ponce de Leon and The Fountain of Youth

Ponce de Leon thought, upon arriving in St. Augustine, Florida, that he had discovered the “Fountain of Youth”. Senor de Leon would undoubtedly be shocked to discover that Florida has become NOT the place to maintain one’s youth but, instead and for many, the final destination before the grave. It’s a veritable “hot spot” for The Grim Reaper! Why should he haul that heavy scythe all over creation when he can knock off, in a manner of speaking, most of his “to-do” list with a short jaunt to sunny Florida? I have no personal experience with The GR myself, but one would think that, having made his career in the business of death throughout the whole history of humankind, he would appreciate the kind of one-stop shopping and increased productivity that a place like Florida could afford him.

I have been giving this whole idea of a more youthful appearance a great deal of thought lately. I have been toying with the idea of disposing of the boxes of hair dye that are currently taking up space in my closet. These boxes are my own version of “The Fountain of Youth”. You didn’t really think I was going to write about Ponce de Leon and The Grim Reaper, did you?

I’ve been graying since my twenties. It’s hereditary. My father had a full head of gray hair by the time he was forty. He likes to blame it on having four daughters, but we know better now. Studies have shown that gray hair, like baldness, hirsuteness, and most other physical (and mental) characteristics, are marked on our DNA. In other words, many of us are just plain doomed by our faulty genetics.

No one wants to be “marked” as old at the age of twenty-five. And, let’s be honest, gray hair is synonymous with old age. Nothing, and I mean nothing, screams “you’re aging!” quite like gray hair. Unlike losing one’s hair or having so much body hair that one could be mistaken in the dark for a Sasquatch, those of us who suffer from premature graying can just throw a box of hair dye into our shopping carts and painlessly (unless you get it in your eye!) and fairly quickly, solve the problem. Unlike our hairless or our excessively hairy friends, we don’t need daily doses of expensive prescription salves to halt our hair loss; we don’t need to subject our bodies to painful waxes or electrolysis treatments to rid ourselves of the extra coat of fur that our prehistoric ancestors needed for warmth but that is now, here in the 21st Century, just plain unsightly. I suppose, put in perspective, those of us whose afflictions can be solved with a six-dollar box of hair dye have it relatively easy.

At some point, usually by the time we reach our forties, graying ceases to be “premature” and gives way to just plain graying. Our friends and coworkers catch up to those of us who have suffered long and, usually, in silence. I knew this was the case when, beginning a few years ago, I could not run into one of my cohorts in the grocery store, the drug store, or, even the local Target, without spying the box of hair dye in their shopping cart. If I looked closely, (and I did!) I could almost always find it — usually hidden amongst other necessities like eggs, anti-perspirant, or that cute pair of trendy flats! (Why they thought they needed to engage in shopping cart subterfuge, I’ll never know.)

Sure, there are always a few women who don’t buy into covering up their graying locks. These women, generally speaking, tend to fall into two categories. They are either the bland and dowdy types who shop for the few cosmetics that they carelessly apply (only on special occasions!) at the dollar store (even I don’t buy make-up at the dollar store!) or they are the environmentally-conscious health food nuts who wouldn’t dream of putting chemicals on their heads (so close to their brains!). Either way, they’re not “my peeps”. These women are definitely NOT the ones with the leopard-print flats in their Target cart. More likely, they’re hiding things like support hose or flax seed oil in those bright red baskets. I’m no statistician, but I would, based on my own vast experience, go out on a limb and make the claim that these fortyish hair dye eschewing/support hose wearing/flax seed ingesting consumers are the exception, not the rule!

Lately, though, I have been thinking more and more about joining them. No. I haven’t taken up granola-crunching, but I did, just recently, begin a flax seed regimen (because of my dry eyes!). You won’t find me shopping for outdated Maybelline at the dollar store anytime soon and I think I’ll hold off on the support hose, at least for a few more years, but it may be time to throw in the towel where the hair dye is concerned. It’s become, quite frankly, a very time, energy, and money sucking battle with the bottle — one that I am, by the way, losing. (Already having lost one battle with the bottle, I simply may not have it in me to lose another!)

Part of the reason I haven’t, thus far, just done it already is because I am, and I’m not ashamed to admit this, vain. I don’t want to look older than I already am. I don’t consider forty-seven to be all that old, but it’s not all that young either. While I certainly understand that age is relative, I also work in a very youthful environment. At the end of a long shift I have a tendency to grow tired and lose my patience. On some level we all do, regardless of our ages, but my fear is that IF I stop dying my hair I will be perceived NOT just as fatigued and exasperated, but as old and cranky. I’m not saying that I’m NOT old and cranky. I’m saying that I don’t want OTHER people, YOUNGER people (who, by the way, I can still run circles around) to perceive me as such.

The other decision that I must make, IF I decide to stop dyeing my hair, is whether to dye my whole prodigious head of hair gray or to cut off the rather large and very long portion of my hair that is still brownish (as a result of various bottles of Miss Clairol, L’Oreal, or whatever brand was on sale). I know that the “ombre” look is “in”, but the gray on the top, brown on the bottom variation that I am currently sporting is more “two-tone” than it is “ombre”. I love Pepe LePew as much as the next gal. I do not, however, want to LOOK like him. (Nor would I want to smell like him, but that’s a whole other subject!) In order to avoid this — the looking like Pepe, NOT the smelling like Pepe — I must choose between two styles: The Jamie Leigh Curtis or The Emmylou Harris.

Jamie Leigh manages her style because she has such fine bone structure and because, let’s face it, she’s thin. Thin, successful actresses can wear almost any hairstyle. Emmylou pulls it off because she’s a musician. Those musicians can get away with almost anything. Also, she’s got the aging hippie thing going on. That doesn’t hurt. I am neither thin nor successful. I’m not Hollywood royalty, nor am I a world-renowned singer-songwriter. While I like to think of myself as a free spirit, it’s safe to say that no one would ever describe me as a hippie (or, come to think of it, hip).

Me! Or, Pepe --- you decide!

Me! Or, Pepe — you decide!

Jamie Leigh --- look at that chin! I'd kill for that chin!

Jamie Leigh — look at that chin! I’d kill for that chin!

Emmylou --- she's not dowdy at all!

Emmylou — she’s not dowdy at all!

So, it’s a dilemma. To dye or not to dye. To cut or not to cut. Maybe I should just move to Florida now. I could shave my head and invest in a couple of wigs. Because I don’t even want to get into with you what tropic-like humidity does to my hair. I know. I know. Florida is not “technically” the tropics, but still — two words spring to mind: Roseanne Roseannadanna.

My hair + humidity = Roseanne Roseannadanna

My hair + humidity = Roseanne Roseannadanna

genfablogoThis piece is also appearing on the NEW! GenFab website. There’s bound to be a great deal of incredible writing over there — grab another cup of coffee and read the day away. The laundry can wait. So can the dishes. Show these ladies some love!

photo credits:
The Fountain of Youth
Jamie Leigh
Roseanne Roseannadanna

Things that are worth holding on to

86 mets photI could fill a very large file cabinet with things that would fall into the category of “seemed like a good idea at the time”. Let’s make that a virtual file cabinet, though, shall we? I’ve spent the last month hauling garbage bags and ugly furniture down the stairs. The last thing I need to be tripping over is a file cabinet filled with bad decisions. Decisions that, by the way, span years and run the gamut from cutting my own hair to driving drunk, from piercing my own ears to buying a white couch, from being unkind to running with the wrong crowd.

For the most part I’m happy with the decisions I’ve made regarding the more important things in my life like, for example, who I married. And that’s a big one. Don’t overestimate the importance of that one, folks. Sure, he gets on my last nerve sometimes, but he comes in handy for things like hooking up HDTV’s. Also, he’s game for tearing up outdated pleather couches armed only with a hammer and a steak knife. He doesn’t bang on about fancy meals, either. That’s a plus. As long as I keep coffee and peanut butter in the house he’s a relatively happy camper.

Insofar as we choose our mates based on qualities that we deemed were important at, in my case, 19 years old (HA!), it’s no wonder the divorce rate is so high. Either I was very smart at 19 (again, HA!) or, more likely, very lucky indeed. What first drew me to him was that he had a car and a job, which, in hindsight, seem like relatively frivolous things. What I came to realize, mostly while riding in that car, was that he laughed a lot and he did so easily, which made being around him enjoyable. He still does, it still is.

The hovel purge has been hard on him. I’ve been hard on him. Let’s just say that there hasn’t been a lot of laughing. This weekend, however, it seems that he (and we) rounded a corner. He actually stopped fighting me and began to embrace the changes that I’ve been trying very hard to make happen here. He even got into the spirit and threw out a couple bags of his own junk; junk that has been clogging up my bedroom for years. I saw him wrestling with whether or not to keep the ’86 Mets World Series official photo. He was on the verge of tossing it when I stopped him. Though I cannot imagine where a framed 8 x 10 photograph of a bunch of guys in orange and blue will fit into my décor, I didn’t have the heart to make him get rid of it.

It seems that some things, even things that are old and outdated, are worth holding on to.

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 (

Avoiding the “Vague Idea”

crucifixMen are not really equipped for the whole shopping gig. Yes, I know. This is both sexist and promotes a certain stereotype. Sometimes, though, stereotypes linger because they’re true. For example, I’m Irish. I used to drink a lot. Many Irish people drink to excess. Not all, but many. That’s how it became a stereotype. Because it’s true. Perhaps you know a man who is not challenged by a shopping trip. Good for you. He’s a keeper! If you are not, however, involved with the exception to the rule — a man who has the shopping gene — don’t despair. All is not lost. They can be trained. Ultimately, what must be avoided is anything resembling the “vague idea”.

In our early years together my husband was fond of purchasing me jewelry. The problem? I don’t really wear a whole lot of jewelry. Well, at least not the jewelry that he was choosing. In an effort to indulge the obvious pleasure he got from shopping for jewelry, I started to drop hints about jewelry that I might actually like to own. (Enter the “vague idea”.) They were, I thought, fairly straightforward things. I mentioned items such as, a cross pendant, “X” earrings, or a simple gold chain. How could someone screw that up? Fairly easily, as it turns out. The small, elegant, understated cross turned into an elaborate filigreed crucifix that might at one time have belonged to Madonna. For those of you who don’t know, there is a difference between a cross and a crucifix. A cross is a modified “T” shape; a crucifix has a sculpted and bloodied man wearing a crown of thorns affixed to the “T” shape. I like Jesus as much as the next gal, but I don’t want four gruesome inches of his death hanging from my neck. Too flashy and overtly religious. Definitely NOT me.

The “X” earrings? They were large enough to partially obscure my cheekbones and heavy enough to stretch my delicate earlobes. When I returned them I think they put them back on the branding iron from which they had been removed.

A simple gold chain? Try a quadruple herringbone. Cleopatra probably sported something smaller. It gave me a neck ache. I also imagined that it might catch the eye of some ne’er do well who would garrote me while attempting to tear it from my tender neck. Again. Not for me.

Those jewelry store clerks definitely saw my husband coming. He fell, hook, line, and sinker, for the old “bigger is better” adage. And he fell hard.

Obviously I returned all of this craziness. (And made a handsome profit, I might add.) Following the quadruple herringbone disaster (he really could not understand what could possibly be wrong with something so obviously expensive and well-made — and in Italy for crying out loud!), he vowed never to buy me jewelry again. Obviously his inability to select something appropriate was all my fault. He stayed true to his word, though, and steered clear of the jewelry stores when my birthday, Christmas, or Mother’s Day rolled around. I began to receive things like candle snuffers (designed for taper candles, which I do not own a one of), snow boots (bright pink and two sizes too small), scarves (mostly “medallion” prints, I’ll likely drag them out when I’m 80), pajamas (flannel and sized to hold at least one other person — and, no, not because he had any kinky ideas — because he operates under the assumption that my feet are petite, but my ass is at least two sizes larger than it really is), and, of course, the inevitable robot vacuum cleaner (he does the vacuuming, so I guess that one worked out for him).

More than twenty years of well-meaning, yet still not quite right, gifts forced me to adopt the bold strategy of asking for exactly what I want. No more hints. No more leaving dog-eared magazines or catalogs lying around (like the ones he used to look quizzically at finding atop his pillow). No more candle-snuffers, cleaning-related products, or stage-worthy jewelry for me! Last year he even relaxed his “No Jewelry” policy and agreed to buy me the small Tiffany “Love” ring that I’d had my eye on for ages. This year I asked for AND received a new pair of chocolate brown UGGS mini boots (in the proper size!). Let me not leave you with the impression that my husband is perfect, though. No. He’s still working out the kinks with the whole “Christmas pajama” tradition. This year they weren’t flannel nor were they completely ludicrous. They would have been great if it weren’t for the see-through white top that accompanied the XL bottoms. So, while there’s always room for improvement, there is no substitute for proper training.

photo credit: crucifix