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Did you notice?

28 Sep

I didn’t post yesterday. I spent 2.5 hours in a chair at the dentist. About half-way through, I almost started crying. I am so sick of going to the dentist that I am seriously considering writing a post titled, “Why I Live at the DO.” DO standing for dentist’s office. After the DO, I came home fully intending to run; I napped.

Working on filling my week with posts, I asked for suggestions. One reader thought it would be interesting to post a picture of the same place every week. This, I thought, had possiblities. I was considering posting pictures of either a prairie sunrise or a prairie sunset, but I’d have to get up pretty damn early for the sunrise and I’m at work when the sun sets. Still, I might decide to do it if I can get myself up early. Maybe for Sunday?

In the meantime, I can kill two birds with one post. Every Friday (or there abouts), I’m going to post a picture of my office, beginning today. My office is a screaming mess. There are books everywhere, piles of papers on the desk, a computer on the floor, my husband’s detritus from his voice-over ventures, and a daybed that has become my daughter’s nightly bed because her room is also a screaming mess.

Here is the current state of affairs. Don’t judge. Or maybe you should . . .that will be further incentive to get it organized.

My kids say funny stuff, too 2

5 Sep

featuring my son, 16 years old

My son is now at the age where he leaves for hours at a time to meet up with friends and do constructive things like drive from mall to mall visiting their favorite stores. I say visiting because, between them, they have almost enough money to get a fast food meal and put half a gallon of gas in the designated driver’s car.

I know a little bit more about the aspirations of some of my son’s cohorts than is comfortable for a woman known to worry about things like being sucked out of an airplane toilet. I know, for instance, that one of his group really, really wants to try LSD or just about any mind-altering substance.

Recently, Son came home from one of his mall inventorying ventures along with three other young men. I was coming down the stairs just as they opened the front door so nearly collided into Son. He was smiling; he looked happy. This is not a state I am accustomed to in him. Mr. I Want To Drop Acid and See God was with him.

I surveyed the situation and said the first thing that popped into my head.

“Are you high?” I said. He and his friends looked at me like I was insane. Now, the minute it came out of my mouth I knew it was probably not the best way to greet my son and three young men who tower over me, but there you are.

Later, reviewing the incident, I asked my son, “God, what on earth was I thinking!?”

“I don’t know, Mom,” he said. “I was like ‘Hi, Mom!’ and you were like ‘Hi, Drug Addict!'”

Would you go back, Jack, and do it again?

7 Aug

If Lincoln hadn’t gone to the theater, he would have been run over by a carriage. Or he would have had a heart attack. Or he might have fallen down the White House staircase and broken his neck. Or something like that.

My husband, a historian, hates speculative chat about history. What difference does it make what might have happened if Lincoln hadn’t gone to the theater? Lincoln went to the theater; he was assassinated. There are no do-overs. Write it in the book and move on.

But, I want a do-over. Actually, I want more than one do-over; I want a lot of do-overs. As my daughter might say, even, I want a lot, a lot, a lot of do-overs.

I’d use a bunch of them this morning. First, I’d do-over my dental situation. I’ve got dental dominoes going on in my mouth. My front crown fell out recently, bringing down with it a whole range of dental woes, from yellowing to molar rot.

One of the indignities of aging that rarely gets mentioned is teeth. You hear about hot flashes, back pains, creaking joints, heart attacks, weight gain, gray hair, sagging chins, drooping butts. But no one ever told me that I’d be sitting at my computer, flossing while catching up on blog reading, and my tooth would fall out. Just fall out and plink right onto my laptop.

Certain dental work can be delayed, like repairing molars. Heck, I figured, I’ve got more than one and it’s not like I’m eating caramels every day. Filling the 22 cavities in my 9-year-old daughter’s mouth seemed far more pressing a year ago. So, my molars waited. But a crown. . . now that can’t wait.

A crown can be a lovely thing and mine served me well. Beneath the crown, though, is a stump that looks like something cooked up by a British Hillbilly dentist on crack. Money be damned, I could not—would not—go around looking like Austin Powers.

Replacing the crown is going to be far more involved than I suspected. First, the surrounding teeth need to be bleached because I’ve spent years drinking coffee, tea, cola and all the other things that keep me awake for the glory that is my life. Apparently, they don’t make crowns in the yellowish ivory hue my teeth have taken on. So, bleach. Which leads to bleach trays. Which leads to this morning’s appointment.

Preparing for the dentist required blow-drying my hair. My hair, which I affectionately refer to as “frog fur,” is fine. And flat. So, I bend over and dry it from the roots believing that this will magically make my hair fuller. I bent over, began drying and then screamed with pain as my back fell apart, perhaps in sympathy with my tooth. When the pain subsided, I stood up and decided that a half-head of volume was better than no volume at all.

With my half-full head and broken back, I hobbled to the hall closet for my purse. No purse. Everywhere in the house? No purse. So much no purse that I decided my purse must have shrunken and was now so small that my dog ate it. Then I decided my children were no longer content to drive me crazy figuratively and had invented a new game: Gaslighting Mommy, which involves hiding things Mommy frequently needs, like glasses, car keys and her wallet. I called around. No purse at Whole Foods. No purse with husband at his office, as if he suddenly decided he needed a lavender and white man-bag. No purse in my son’s or daughter’s rooms, though I was too afraid to move anything for fear something frightening might be under them.

So, I called the dentist to reschedule my appointment. Then I found the purse. In the garage. I know how it got there; I’m not telling.

Then the dentist called. They were worried about me. I decided it was nicer to have someone worry about me than to point out that they wouldn’t have been worried if they were checking their messages. We rescheduled.

Finally, all the drama seeped out of the morning and I got over wanting a do-over. I decided the newly discovered down time would be well spent at the library.

I wakened the teenager. We drove to the library. On the way, I rear-ended a Jetta.


Have you ever wanted a do-over? What would you use it on?

PS. I attempted to download a photo of a lovely woman with terrible teeth to accompany this post. My computer crashed three times.

Spare the rod? Spare me!

10 Jul

Yesterday, I wrote in my newspaper column about spanking and the fact that it, quite literally, can drive your kids crazy. Well, I stirred a little nest, I guess. I’ve been berated for humiliating my children and been informed the spanking can be appropriate. What do you think?

Say Hello To Mr. Johnson

1 Feb

When I lived in Oak Park, my next-door neighbor was an Armenian woman, about my age, who grew up in the Soviet Union. While she had an M. D. and a Ph.D., was working on curing breast cancer and could speak at least three languages, there was one she desperately wanted to learn. She felt her lack hindered her ability to truly interact with her colleagues.

My friend wanted to learn the language of American vulgarity. I don’t discriminate in verbal acquisition, so my vocabulary includes an extensive collection of American swear words. And I know how to use them.

So on our nightly walks, I would instruct her in how to swear in American English.  We spent at least two sessions discussing the various terms for copulation. I ranked them in increasing order of severity from “fooling around” up to the “F” word. She was astounded at how versatile that word could be, but couldn’t really master its use. Still she was eager to try her newly acquired skills. At a meeting of her research team, presented with a problem that confounded her, she said, “What fuck is this?!”

With the “F” word behind us, she turned her interest to vulgar synonyms for “penis.” Again, she was amazed at the variety of monikers Americans have devised for the male appendage. I don’t think she believed me when I mentioned that many men actually have a pet name for their penis, “just like women have a term for their breasts.” The look on her face told me that Soviet women probably don’t have terms of endearment for their “girls.”

I was reminded of my friend while taking care of my dad recently. Cancer treatment doesn’t just make you tired. It doesn’t just make you nauseous. In my dad’s case, there is a lot of sleeplessness. He also has a feeding tube installed in his small intestine. All night, the adult version of formula is pumped into his body. So, along with the sleeplessness, he has toileting issues.

It was in the course of dealing with one of these issues that I came face-to-face, as it were, with my dad’s . . .um . . .Johnson. I knew what came next. I dreaded what came next. Out of respect for my dad’s ability to retain his dignity in a terrible situation, I got over myself and did what needed to be done.

Dad and I both survived the incident and others as well, but it struck me that we had crossed a significant invisible barrier. In a moment, it became appropriate to do something that had been completely inappropriate a heartbeat prior.

When we were kids, my dad would dress in his swim trunks and get in the shower with my sister and me. With the water beating down on us, he would rock back and forth making storm noises. Now, I’m grabbing a handful of cleansing wipes and helping dad do what he can’t do for himself.

Ironically, it’s now ok for me to see dad’s unit, but no longer appropriate for me to see my son’s. When my son was an infant, I didn’t just see the teeny, weenie peenie, but was its primary care giver. The doctor assured me that post-circumcision care was simple. She lied. I think she did it on purpose. Prior to amending my son’s constitution, she told me “circumcision is completely unnecessary. We used to think the procedure didn’t hurt them, but now we believe that isn’t true.” She then gave me the pursed-lip “I dare you to be a bad mother” look. I gave her the “it’s none of your damn business” look and said, “My husband is Jewish.”

My intimate relationship with my son’s winky continued. He refused to use the toilet any way but the way his father did: standing up. This meant that the only time he did not pee in a diaper was at Brookfield Zoo, where there is a pint-sized urinal in the women’s restroom. At nearly four years old, he finally stood tall enough to (sort of) hit the mark in the potty. He still is only sort of making the mark, but I think he does it so he doesn’t have to share a bathroom with his sister.

The day it became inappropriate for me to see my son’s penis is burned into my mind. I was bringing laundry to his room, just as I had done for years. I seldom knocked. On the day that shall live in infamy, I opened the door and found my son exercising his right to the pursuit of happiness. We looked at each other in horror. I said, “AHHHHHH!!!!” He said, “AHHHHHHHHH!!!! I slammed the door. Now, I knock and he locks.

I don’t think I’ll ever completely recover from seeing my baby boy behaving in a very un-babyish manner. That kind of thing has a way of searing the corneas. But, I’m behaving like an adult when it comes to caring for dad. He needs it and I’m glad to do it.

Happy Anniversary To Me

26 Sep

“Dear husband,” I said, “it’s been a year.”

“No!” he answered. “Really?”

“Yes. A whole year at the end of this month,” I said.

“But what about that time our daughter had a sleep over and our son didn’t come out of his cave for hours?”

“Oh. My. God,” I said. “It hasn’t been a year for THAT! And don’t tell me it feels like it!”

“Well, then I’m at a loss,” he said.

Normally, I’m the one who forgets anniversaries, particularly my wedding anniversary. I got married on either the 16th or 17th of October. Never can remember which. So, whenever anyone asks me when I got married, I say, “Saturday. It was a Saturday.” My husband has the PhD in History. He remembers the date and rolls his eyes when I don’t.

It has been a year since I started writing and publishing Snide Reply. At the risk of sounding like a Holiday Letter, I thought I’d go through some of my old posts and update you on some of the more popular. For those who jumped on the Snide wagon later in its run, I’m including links to the original posts.

I started running just a couple of months before I started blogging. At that time, I could run about 3 miles. I am writing this having run 9 miles this afternoon. Of course, I can barely get out of my chair to hobble to the kitchen and refill my teacup.

I still don’t have an attractive website. I have a really cool domain name and I have a website. The two shall not meet in my lifetime. See, the website is totally lame. I built it myself when I had no idea where my life was going. That happens when you make plans and life does that mice and men thing with them.

I have a better idea where my life is going these days so maybe it’s time to re-tackle the website. To my endless stupefaction and glee, I am now a parent columnist. Me! The self-admitted queen of parental immaturity. Ok, so it’s only been a couple of weeks, but a girl has to start somewhere. Look at Jenny McCarthy! Her parenting qualifications are . . .what?  Oh, yeah, she posed naked and had a baby. Do you think T. Berry Brazelton ever posed naked?

The worst I’ve done is go commando thought the pharmacist who knows has moved on to Wal-Mart. Actually, I may be going commando again soon. And my husband had to skip the briefs at least once. Laundry used to be his responsibility and lawn mowing was mine. We tried to get our son to do the lawn-mowing thing because he hated doing the litter box thing. He wanted nothing to do with the lawn because it was, as he said, “outside.”

“Look,” I said. “you either mow the lawn or you do the laundry.” Ha! I thought, now I have him.

“Cool!” he said. “I love laundry! Laundry smells awesome!”

So, now my husband mows the lawn and my son does the laundry. We have realized, though, that having a teenage boy with ADHD responsible for keeping us in clean undies was probably not our best parenting move. Many is the time a load made it into the washer and stayed there . . .and stayed there . . .and stayed there. Our son has learned that laundry only smells awesome if it makes it from the washer to the dryer in fewer than 24 hours.

The portal to hell is still outside our front door. The dog is still insane. The cat is on a diet. So far, so good. He hasn’t broken anything out of spite. He may have taken a nibble or two out of the fish, though, which is looking rather ragged of late. The end is likely near, as evidenced by his tendency to swim sideways. I predict he’ll go to the great toilet bowl in the sky before the end of the year.

I’m still a pretty bad Buddhist, according to my kids. My son pointed out to me just a few days ago that a good Buddhist probably wouldn’t call the driver who cut her off a “freaking idiot.” I’m better about the cyclists who fly past me on the prairie trail. I no longer mumble obscenities at them. I am saving my obscenities for the people who are treating the prairie as their personal cutting garden these days. My daughter suggested I try out a nearby trail that runs through an equestrian center. I’m pretty sure even Buddha couldn’t keep his cool running behind horses, but then again, it would definitely keep me mindful and aware.

As my episodes on the prairie illustrate, I still have anger issues. I still hate liver, read crap and get jealous, too. But, I haven’t taken a serious trip to Funky Town in a while. My son is ok with “Spithead” and no one has puked around here lately. My kids are still pikers when it comes to sibling rivalry.

I am overjoyed to report that the shed never went up. The cosmos aligned in a gigantic “I told you so,” when my neighbor hired someone to survey the property line. I left the hot pink flagging tape which proved the line did, indeed, fall exactly where I said it did as long as possible. We found, in fact, that we have a lot more property than we thought we did. My neighbor and I have entered a sort of cold war, though. He no longer speaks to me and his children run like rabbits whenever I come out of the house. I’m thinking it just needs a little more time and a lot more of me being the nicest, most cheerful person I know how to be. Stop laughing; I can be very cheerful.

I’ve made lots of people laugh in the past year. I think I’ve made some cry. I know I’ve hurt feelings, unintentionally of course. Still, I’m more careful about what I write and how I phrase things. There are certain things I’ll never write, at least not here and not as non-fiction. But I’ll keep writing and I hope you’ll keep reading.

Thanks, from the bottom of my heart, for a truly wonderful year.

I See London

11 Apr

Lately, my daughter has been asking about embarrassing moments.  “Mama,” she said, “what was your most embarrassing moment?” I don’t embarrass easily, so I had to think hard. I recalled a truly embarrassing incident in fourth grade when a teacher wouldn’t allow anyone to use the bathroom. I really had to go; the teacher really wouldn’t let me. I waited until lunch period, but we weren’t allowed to use the bathroom at lunch either. So, I got in the lunch line. My bladder reached the end of the line just when I did. I wet my underpants, copiously, as I handed my lunch money to the cafeteria lady.  I understand my dad come to school and ripped the teacher a new one. I take great satisfaction in this.

My daughter, however, was not satisfied. Apparently, wetting my pants more than forty years ago isn’t embarrassing enough. She wanted something more up-to-date, so she supplied it.

You need to understand that I am on a first name basis with my pharmacist. These things happen when you’re on the auto-refill until eternity program. For some reason known only to the god of chaos, my prescriptions auto-refill on different days. For some other reason, known only to the god of reason, this cannot be changed so that I can maintain my version of sanity with a once-monthly visit to “Chris.” Until the planets align, I am at the pharmacy counter at Target a minimum of two times per month.

Last week’s toothache and antibiotics to cure it required an additional visit to Chris. He’s a pleasant guy, always ready to answer a question. As I chatted with Chris about drug interactions and other pharmacy-related topics, I heard my daughter say, “Ewwww!!!”

“What is it,” I asked?

“That!” she said, and pointed to the latest Target flyer. I admit to feeling a little awkward explaining pretty lingerie to my daughter in front of Chris. But I thought I had it covered when I told her that some women like to wear pretty underwear and reminded her that she, in fact, likes to have things like princesses and ponies on her undies.  She didn’t let the subject go, though.

“My mommy doesn’t wear panties sometimes,” she said to Chris.

I had no idea what she was referring to. Really. Honestly. So I said the first plausible thing that came to mind.

“That was only once when I had to run down to the laundry room to get some, Sweetie.” “Sweetie” was the only publicly acceptable name I could think of for her at the time.

Somehow, Chris filled my prescription without looking at me. I managed to pay for it without looking at him.

Two days ago, I remembered what she was talking about.

“Mommy,” the evil mistress of embarrassment said, “you went commando at the Y.”

And she’s right. I did indeed go commando at the Y. See, I can get my kids to school with everything they need from lunches and homework to water bottles and notes to the teacher. Me? Not so much. I am usually stuffing my stuff into my gym bag as I push the kids toward the car. Frequently, I find myself missing some essential workout ingredient. One day—and it really was just one day—I finished my shower and reached into my bag to find no underwear. I looked right, I looked left, then pulled my pants on and got my GI-Joe self home as quickly as possible.

My mother would have been appalled. What if, God forbid, I had been in an accident on the way home? What if I had been grievously injured? What if I had been taken to the hospital where the doctors cut away my pants to find that I had not just failed to wear nice underwear but had failed to wear underwear at all?

Many mothers have the same rule mine did—wear your nicest panties when you go out because you never know when you’ll be in a terrible car accident. My best friend’s mother had that rule. Naturally, my best friend was in an automobile accident on a low-laundry day. She blessed her luck that she wasn’t grievously injured else the doctors would cut away her pants to find her wearing her husband’s tidy whities.

Sometimes wearing panties can be a source of embarrassment. Another friend prides herself on her appearance in public. No gnarly sweats and socks with Birkenstocks for her. She undoubtedly wears nice panties when she goes out. Sometimes she wears them in surprising places. Once, in a hurry, she grabbed a pair of pants from the laundry basket. She tossed them on and ran out the door. At the grocery store, she felt as if she stepped on something once or twice, but thought nothing of it until the third time. She looked down to find a pair of panties peeking out of the leg of her pants. It says something about my friend that she was embarrassed not only about the panties but by the fact that they were her everyday plain old white ones. I have another friend who is as frazzled on her way to workout as I am. She found herself at dance class once with her underwear on over her workout pants.

Wearing thongs is particularly problematic. My best friend reports that her daughter believes women over fifty should not wear thongs. Apparently, we are supposed to suffer VPL in our yoga pants. I gave up thongs with yoga-type pants a few years ago, when I bent down to retrieve something while wearing a pair of lovely pale pink sweat pants. A man standing behind me, who I thought was a gentleman, remarked, “I thought thongs were no longer fashionable with you girls.” My daughter doesn’t believe anyone should wear thongs. I’m following her advice these days.

About three days after I started the antibiotics for my tooth, the phone rang. Though I didn’t recognize the number, I answered anyway. It was Chris, the pharmacist, wondering how I was doing on the antibiotic. I’m betting that isn’t all he was wondering.

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