Snowpooling

I’ve been waiting two years for someone from our town to go to The Kid’s college. Why, you ask? To ride-share, of course.

I mean, it’s not that I mind the six hour round-trip drive. Typically, I love to drive. I always have. It’s just that that trip can be a bit trying on, well, everything. From my ankles to the ends of my hair.

Ok, so my hair doesn’t really hurt. But you get the picture.

And I pretty much do it alone. Since DH has lost most of the sight in his left eye, he has terrible night vision and really can’t, shouldn’t, drive once the moon comes out. And most of the time I’m coming back from getting her from school when it’s dark.

When I found out a girl from our town — whose mother is a friend of mine — was going to be going to The Kid’s school this year, I jumped up and down for joy so hard I peed my pants a little.

Someone to carpool with. Finally.

I realize it won’t always work out with schedules, etc. But it will work out sometimes. Even if just once or twice. And that is good enough for me.

Luckily, this Thanksgiving is one of the times it worked out. My friend was doing the retrieving, and I am doing the returning.

Except my friend kinda got the short end of the stick. For her retrieval, “they” were predicting a snowstorm. But hey, she’s tough. I knew it wouldn’t ruffle her feathers much. Besides, it wasn’t going to be all that bad. We’ve had worse.

Except this turned out to be one of the craziest snowstorms we’ve had in a long time, this early in the season.

The three-hour drive took exactly twelve. Door-to-door. No lie.

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Smooth sailing at 1.5 hours. Little did they know what lurked just ahead. Makes you want to scream at the screen, “don’t go in there, DON’T GO IN THERE!”

The storm they were predicting came on us strong and fast. No one was really expecting the velocity of which the snow and ice bore down in these parts. I don’t believe anyone, including the highway department, was prepared.

Roads quickly turned to sheets of ice. From what I was hearing, all the highways and byways pretty much from Virginia to Ohio to Connecticut transformed into “Disney on Ice” within minutes. With Cinderella being played by the Snow Miser.

Before she knew it, my poor friend, along with her passengers, were at a standstill.

A more-than-five-hour standstill.

Stuck. With thousands of other commuters. On the roadway to a major bridge. One that had shut down due to multiple accidents.

There was nowhere to go. Nothing to do. But sit. And sit. And sit some more.

As the mom of one of the occupants of this vehicle, I was a little anxious. I trusted my friend whole-heartedly. It wasn’t her driving I was concerned about. I was concerned they would run out of gas, get stuck on a snowy highway, and freeze to death (yes, I watch too much television, read too many books).

I had a daughter who was a bit distressed and sending anxiety-ridden texts to me. “Mom, I’m never getting home,” “It’s freaking me out,” “I feel trapped.” And finally, “I want tacos.”

Twenty-year-old people and their appetites. Ne’er shall an icicle, snowflake, or semi-crisis keep the hunger away. Stomachs on Kriptonite. There should be a superhero named after that.

My friend, who is amazing, kept the mood fun and light, spirits high. They broadcast their adventures via Facebook Live, which, let me tell you, was quite entertaining. Saturday Night Live had nothing on these three and brought a whole new meaning to “Carpool Karaoke.”

If they weren’t already on the road, I would have suggested they take their show on, you know, the road. Ba-dum.

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A clip from their “Live” session…my amazing friend (left) with her gorgeous daughter (right), and mine (back), trying not to lose their minds. I’m guestimating this was around Hour Eight of the total “drive.” Hour Three of the standstill. (Permission was granted to use this photo by the inmates, err, passengers)

They were pretty resourceful on this trip. My friend’s daughter, using the highway to void. Because when you gotta go, you gotta go. Whether that toilet is on the inside of a bathroom, or on asphalt. Nature is nature and does not discriminate.

All of them figuring out how to turn half a bag of chips into a gourmet meal. Rationing water like they were lost on the prairie. Skills that will carry them throughout their lives.

What I found most humorous was the conversation they had with the man in the car next to them who was smoking a “blunt.” I suppose that’s a good way to deal with a situation like that. Although, I wouldn’t recommend it.

Just so you know, in my day it was called a “joint” or a “doobie.” There is nothing else in this world that shows my age more than having to ask what a “blunt” is. All this contemporary lingo got me like, “gag me with a spoon.”

Finally, they made it home. I think there was a little bit of each of us that wasn’t sure when it would happen. They were tired, a little worse for the wear, and totally freaked out. But they were safe. My friend is a rockstar. All of them are rockstars.

And those tacos? Have you ever had them at two-thirty in the morning? Me either. But I’m told they were pretty good. No blunt necessary.

Mama Was a Rolling Stone. Or Just Old.

“Ooh ouch,” I said to myself a little over two Tuesday mornings ago when I opened my eyes. “What the hell now?”

I’m getting accustomed to all that mid-life has thrown at me. All the changes in my body and face. But sometimes it’s just disconcerting. I don’t want to mid-life anymore. I just don’t.

I know. I know. What’s the alternative? Umm, how about being thirty again? Not possible? Well, in this day and age you’d think they’d come up with something to turn back time without all the work that goes into trying to turn back time.

Anyway, the pain seemed to be stemming from my left ovary. The pain was going down my leg and around to my back. It was not that bad as far as pains go. I mean, I child-birthed naturally and collected a few kidney stones in my lifetime so I’m no stranger to it.

It was just uncomfortable. Until it wasn’t. You know, just uncomfortable.

By the time I got to work, my pain went from about a three to a nine.

So, I decided it was time to pay the office nurse a visit. I always wondered if she was bored anyway so I figured I’d just be doing her a favor. So big of me, I know.

I threw back a couple of Advil and headed three flights down. By the time I got there, my face was white and I was fairly certain I was going to pass out. At that point, my pain was at an off-the-charts fifteen. I didn’t have to say a word. One look at me and the nurse knew something was wrong.

“Omg it’s my back holy cow it hurts so bad do you have a heating pad or maybe a knife to kill me with?”

Because she’s a nurse and knows more than I do she brought me an ice pack — not a knife — and within minutes the pain was gone. POOF! Vanished Into thin air.

But I still had pain in my ovary. I started thinking it must be a cyst that burst or something because diagnosing myself is what I do best. And because I am who I am (Hypochondriac Extraordinaire) I made an appointment with my gynecologist for the next morning.

A quick exam and it was determined I had a distended bowel. He couldn’t really see my ovary from all the distention, but he wanted me to come back again the next morning for an ultrasound.

I know. This is getting ridiculous, right? So, the next morning I went in for an ultrasound of the inside of my lady parts, then went right up to an examining room where I was to wait while my doctor read the results.

And wait. And wait. And wait some more.

Like, a really long time wait. Do you know what happens when Hypochondriac Extraordinaire sits in an examining room too long waiting for her doctor to read the results of her ultrasound?

She panics.

“OMG I’m dying. He’s taking a long time because he is consulting with all the other doctors, confirming I have cancer and it’s gotten into my bones because surely that’s why my hips and back have been bothering me lately. I won’t see my child graduate college or even meet my grandchildren. I’m not ready. I want GRAND-BABIES!”

No, seriously. I’m not exaggerating. I had worked myself into such a state, I legitimately frightened myself so much I started to shake.

So embarrassing.

Finally, he returned. *GULP*

“Sorry it took so long.” Seriously? I nearly stroked out waiting to hear what I was dying from, and you’re sorry it “took so long?” Anyway, bottom line was he thought it was my bowels being all distended. You know, like he already said.

“Go see your gastro.”

PHEW. I’m not dying. At least not from ovarian cancer.

I go see my gastro. Who tells me I don’t have a distended bowel.

What now? I’m given something to alleviate the bloating even though I’m not really bloating, and sent home to wonder what’s really killing me.

Over the weekend, I suffered in silence and took stool softeners, all while my symptoms completely changed. I no longer had ovary pain, I no longer had abdominal discomfort. I now had pressure wayyyy downtown. Like the kind that makes you feel like you have to go pee. All.the.time.

As if I don’t already have that problem.

So, once again, Hypochondriac Extraordinaire self-diagnoses herself with a UTI — a Urinary Tract Infection.

What doctor is next? You got it. My urologist.

What’s funny about being mid-life is you have a specialist in practically every specialty and you have all of them on speed dial. Is it a perk? Yeah, maybe. I guess it’s all on how you look at it.

I go to my urologist who figured it out in two seconds. Kidney stones. And the pressure way downtown? Not a UTI. That is called “Tunnel Syndrome.” Which occurs when stones get stuck in the ureter.

Why I am telling all of you this? Does this get ranked under “Too Much Information?” No. No, it does not. I am telling you all this in case it happens to you. This is a public service announcement.

You’re welcome because I may have saved you a future office visit, anxiety, and $250.

Anyway, I was sent for a CT scan and an X-ray. Let’s just say I have enough radiation in me to be Radioactive Man for Halloween. Too bad I’m a two days late thinking of that one. Story of my life.

The diagnosis is right on the money. She was correct about the ureter, but she also discovered a  stone in my right kidney which is weird because my right side was never an issue this entire time.

Prognosis? Wait it out. I’ve gotten good at that. Except now, I know I’m not dying.

So, to make a long story even longer, what was the moral of it all? There are a few. 1) Don’t self diagnose yourself; 2) Don’t panic, you may actually hurt yourself doing that although I didn’t really hurt myself but I’m sure I lost a year; and 3) drink water — lots and lots of water.

Flying Purple People Pleaser

Image courtesy of Cosmopolitan -- thanks Cosmo. For being my 2nd favorite drink and for having the perfect image for my blog post.

Image courtesy of Cosmopolitan. Thanks Cosmo — for being my 2nd favorite drink and for having the perfect image for my blog post.

I’ve always been a people pleaser. Always afraid of saying the wrong thing. Hurting someone’s feelings. God forbid if I say “no” to somebody. I don’t sleep for days.

The same thing goes for responding to texts, Snapchat and Facebook messages, phone calls.

I always feel the need to respond immediately. Any and all my friends and members of my family know they can text me any time of day and they will receive a reply from me fairly quickly. The only things that would keep me from responding is if I’m being mauled by a mountain lion or am dead.

And since neither of those have happened to me yet, that point is moot.

Some of my friends — actually, MOST of my friends — don’t live by my rules. I have friends who I will text and won’t receive a response from for days. Sometimes weeks. And on the very rare occasion, never.

When they do finally respond, my invitation to go out for drinks has expired. Or the news I wanted to share has been forgotten like the name of my first grade teacher.

I know my friends are there for me when I need them. If I texted my bestie, “I need help now,” she’d promptly reply with a concerned response and one foot in her car preparing for the worst, to help me off a ledge if need be. I not only know this because these are the types of people I surround myself with, but because it’s happened. On more than one occasion, sad to say.

Do I take it personally? Oh heck no. If I was that sensitive, I’d be curled up with my blanket in the corner, sucking my thumb. I gave that practice up in 1974.

Why do I do it? Does it go back to my earlier statement? Because I’m a people pleaser?

Maybe.

Here’s part of my problem, or at least what I’m blaming my nimble texting fingers on: I am one of those mothers who thinks if she hasn’t heard from her child in more than two hours, she most certainly must be in a ditch somewhere. Bleeding profusely from her big toe on her left foot because she was propelled from the car she was driving and said car is now crushing it.

The problem with this scenario is she doesn’t have a car at school. Also, she wears her seatbelt. So, this image that pops up in my head is, in actuality, next to impossible. Not to mention a waste of my time, energy, and adrenaline.

Anyway, my point is that I always have my phone with me so I can come to the rescue when and if the time comes. Which translates to being there for everyone else. Including those pesky telemarketers who have now learned how to speak Chinese.

Whatever it may be, I don’t want to do it anymore. No one else does, so why should I? My life is just as busy. Which really isn’t the point, I’m just being sensitive.

So, I’m not doing it anymore (maybe). There. I’ve said it (kind of).

If you need me, I’ll be in the corner. With my blanket. Sucking my thumb. My phone will be close by though. You know, because…ditches.

Airplane Food: Not Quite Fit for a Flounder

Have you ever eaten something so deplorable it shouldn’t even be considered edible, let alone pass the stringent testing of the FDA?

I have. And more than likely, so have you.

My family and I recently came back from a trip to Ireland. Everything about our excursion was amazing.

Except for one thing.

The airlplane food.

I have flown dozens of times in my fifty-one years of life. Starting when I was a little girl at the age of four when my dad would take me up in his rented Cessna 150.

I love to fly. I find it exhilarating, freeing, and beyond all else, adventurous.

I love that one short flight can take you to places you’ve read about in books, and dreamed of in, well, your dreams.

I love almost everything about it. Except one thing.

The food.

It’s a well-known fact that airplane food is not good. This is nothing new. Whether you’ve flown or not, everyone knows this to be true. Airplane food has a bad reputation.

And for good reason.

I’m not sure if it’s better in First Class as I’ve only flown that way once when we were coming back from Orlando, Florida. That is a long story that ends with one happy husband who found this to be the highlight of our trip.

You either love Disney, or you hate it. There is no middle ground. I suppose you can take a gander as to the direction DH went in.

Anyway, who taste tests this crap? A barnyard pig? Because that’s what it reminds me of — slop.

We booked a flight on Norwegian, a very budget conscious airline. They are no frills. There are no screens set into the backs of the seats, there is no place to plug in your earphones, they don’t have music. There is no place to pay for wi-fi.

I get it. We got round-trip nonstop tickets to Ireland for a really good price. They have to cut expenses somewhere. We don’t get a movie. So what? That’s what Kindles and iPads are for.

We certainly weren’t expecting food. So, when they announced that the flight attendants would be serving dinner, we were quite surprised. And to make matters better, we had a choice.

On the menu that fine evening was Chicken with Spinach, and Stuffed Shells. Wine was included, with a refill. I was in my glory. “Free” wine with dinner. What could be better?

The food, that’s what. The food could be better. But that’s already been determined.

The Kid and DH asked for the chicken. I requested the stuffed shells. The good thing about airplane food is you don’t have to wait. The bad things is — say it with me — it sucks.

As we removed the foil tightly wrapped around our culinary delights, the smell hit us like a boy’s locker room after a Friday night football game at the local high school.

There are two things in this photo that are good. Can you name them? Hint: one is wine and one is a book.

There are two things in this photo that are good. Can you name them? Hint: one is wine and one is a book.

My shells had enough sauce to feed a small family of fireflies.

As for the chicken?

All I can say is at least I could muster up the energy to take more than one bite of my meal. The chicken was inedible based on sight alone.

I could actually hear the collective gagging of the passengers. Even at 30,000 feet, over the loud humming of the engines.

I had the pleasure of catching a glimpse of the boy child across the isle from us as he took a bite of his chicken. The look on his face was pure disgust. I laughed in spite of myself. You know, because it was sad funny. It played out like a bad dramedy.

Ahh, life. It’s just so complicated. Especially when airline food is involved.

All I can say is, thank god for the wine. Wine fixes everything. Even slop.

How Lowe Can You Go? Part 2

If you missed Part 1, please click here. You’ll need to catch up. I’ll wait.

This is it. This is the exact poster that hung on the back of my door.

This is it. This is the exact poster!

I dropped my arms in total disbelief. This couldn’t be happening. I had to take matters into my own hands. After all, I had a huge poster of him on the back of my bedroom door. He was the last person I saw at night, and the first person I saw in the morning.

I was his biggest fan and I had every right to take matters into my own hands. I just couldn’t let him get away.

“YOOOOO HOOOOO!!!”

I yelled in the loudest outside voice I could muster up, my arms swinging in the air. I looked like one of those air traffic control guys. Except I wasn’t on a runway.

And, well, I wasn’t an air traffic control guy.

Anyway, if you know me you know I have a good set of lungs. I could put Jamie Lee Curtis from “Halloween” fame to shame.

“ARE YOU WHO I THINK YOU ARE???”

He stopped at the corner where his limo driver was waiting with the back door held open.  With his left foot inside the car, he turned to look at me (remarkably, I might add) and nodded his head.

“Yes.”

That’s all I needed for confirmation. Right there in the flesh was good old Rob Lowe. Just like I thought.

At that, I turned on my heel. And as fast as four inch heels in a skirt that allowed as much leg room as an economy seat on a Spirit airline flight could go, I ran.

I ran like my life depended on it.

I ran as if I was Speedy Gonzales going for a pound of the fanciest Swiss cheese this side of the Alps.

You would be impressed.

From where I stood, I could see the shock on his face, the lifting of his eyebrows, the mouth turn in a large “O” shape. I’m pretty sure he could have fit ten Havana cigars in there.

He leaned down and jumped into his limo, but he wasn’t quick enough. I gained on him so fast, his driver didn’t have time to close the door. At that moment I was more proud than when I won a stuffed snake during one of those water race games at the local fair when I was twelve.

I never learned how to dive, but there is a first time for everything. I threw my arms over my head, and with clasped hands, elbows to ears, and chin tucked, I dove into that car better than Greg Louganis during the Olympic games of 1984.

And then I said it. I said those words no self-respecting young woman should ever utter:

“TOUCH ME!!!”

(My hand. I wanted him to touch my hand.)

I asked this of him as my body was stretched across the seat, my shoes hanging out of the car door, pointing to the blacktop.

To my chagrin, there already was a young lady seated next to him, and I was laying across her lap. Rob was at the time engaged to Melissa Gilbert, so I was none too happy that he had another woman with him.

I accusingly ask who she was. I had a right to know. Me and Half Pint went way back and I owed her that much.

He ignored my question, and with his head pressed against the far window, he stuck out his right hand to shake and then very impatiently asked me to get my friends and get in, or get out of his car.

My parting words to him were, “We will NOT go to your party because you are rude!” You know, because having a twenty year old jump into your car uninvited was perfectly polite.

But damn, I worked so hard to get there.

Once I wedged myself out of the backseat of his limo, straightened my skirt and fixed my hair, I looked up to see my three friends staring at me in utter disbelief.

It was their turn to pick up their jaws with the roller end of a Bonne Bell Lipgloss.

And that, my friends, is the story of the night I met Rob Lowe. It is a thirty-one year old memory that will last a lifetime. And quite honestly, one that just never gets old.

It’s amazing the ridiculous and idiotic things we do in our youth, without a care in the world.

Would I do this now? As a fifty-one year old, mature woman?

Of course not.

I can’t run in heels anymore.

(Edited to add after publication):

There are a number of reasons I did not go with Mr. Lowe on this particular evening. #1) my friends apparently were not interested; 2) It did not feel right and felt kind of icky, even though I threw myself at him; 3) He was known to be a bad boy and had a bit of a drug habit. I had at least some sense to hang back. In retrospect, I used his bad attitude to get out of it. I really did just want to shake his hand!

How Lowe Can You Go? Part 1

The year was 1987 and I was fairly new at being a twenty year old. The drinking age in New York had changed from nineteen to twenty-one in 1985, missing my ability to go into a bar or club with proper and legal identification by a mere two years.

As an adult, I know this was a good thing. Nineteen year olds do not always have the mental capacity to make good decisions. I mean, giving them a legal drink is pretty much like giving a pack of bubble gum to a toddler. Not smart.

As a nineteen year old, it all but ruined my life.

I can’t pinpoint the exact date, but I do know it was warm as I do not recall wearing a coat. Early fall perhaps.

What I do recall is the long, stretch denim pencil skirt that just skimmed my ankles, and the high heeled, pointy-toed red pumps that I wore that evening.

Not the exact night, but the exact hair

Not the exact night, but the exact hair

A group of three of us took a train into New York City to meet a friend who lived in Brooklyn. The Brooklyn chick was twenty-one. The rest of us were not. Yet, we were under some presumption that we could get into a hot dance club based just on our teased up Aqua Net hair and poodle socks alone.

I had no fake ID. Although, I did have that little identification card that accompanies a newly purchased wallet.

Yes, it’s true that little card once got my friends and me a Flaming Hurricane at the local Chinese restaurant.

But we weren’t in a little Chinese restaurant in farm country. That little card would be of no use to us on this specific evening.

Why didn’t I have a fake ID? I mean, everyone had one.

Because although I thought I was cool on that fall Saturday evening in Manhattan of 1987, I was terrified of getting into trouble. Which, if you knew me between the years of 1983-1986, sounds like a contradiction of epic sorts.

Also, I didn’t have an older sister to borrow one from.

We stood in every line of every joint, and slum-house (we did not discriminate) from mid- to up-town New York. Inevitably, when it was our turn to have our ID checked, I used the same original excuse, “I left it at home.” But to no avail. Our inability to gain access into Anyplace was my fault.

After hitting the literal pavement for a couple hours, we finally hit pay dirt. The place was called “The China Club” and was the pinnacle of my youth. They didn’t seem to care that we weren’t of legal drinking age, to which we were eternally grateful.

If you look up The China Club, it was THE place to be. Apparently, it was the watering and partying hole for celebrities and professional sports players alike. In all our glorious innocence, we had no idea. We didn’t have the internet back then and we were from a little podunk town ninety miles due north of “The City That Never Sleeps.”

I was lucky I knew how to find my way out of a paper bag, let alone know where David Bowie hung out on a Thursday night.

What we were aware of was that this place had the two things we were after; alcohol and music. Not necessarily in that order.

Some things stick out in my mind about that evening…

a couple cocktails (surprisingly not many at all — I believe because I had not yet discovered wine and the only drink I even knew about, aside from the Flaming Hurricane, was a Screw Driver, which gave me heartburn),

dancing,

all of us being entertained by a “magician” who could magically pull quarters out of our ears,

…and something else.

I’m pretty sure we closed the place down. It had to have been close to four in the morning. We were tired and hungry, and made our way to the sidewalk, where we waited while Brooklyn Girl hailed us a cab.

Let me start by saying that one of my girlfriends — a friend who is my bestie to this day — is very attractive. She has never had her lack of being hit on. In fact, I’m sure she still gets hit on on more occasions than I care to discuss.

The only thing that hits on me these days is the wind.

We stood there on the sidewalk in a circle, reminiscing about our evening, when my attractive friend’s left shoulder received a swift poke with a finger.

“Hey, wanna come to a party with me?” Came a deep, albeit slightly anhebriated, masculine voice.

Crickets. Radio silence. I mean, she didn’t even turn her head.

He tried again. “Excuse me, would you like to come to a party with me? Your friends can come, too.” More crickets. This time I think I even heard bullfrogs. I mean, we were in the Concrete Jungle after all, right?

At this point recognition lit up my face like the LAX runway at midnight, and I started to perk up. The excitement I felt was overwhelming. I picked my jaw up off the sidewalk with the roller end of my Bonne Bell lip gloss and screamed at my friend, “OH MY GOD! DO YOU KNOW WHO IS TALKING TO YOU RIGHT NOW???!!!”

She continued to ignore me.

I grabbed her face with both my hands and whipped her head in my direction, forcing her to make eye contact with me. “DID YOU HEAR ME? DON’T.YOU.KNOW.WHO.THAT.ISSSSSSSSSS???” I repeated, sounding a bit like Regan from The Exorcist. I’m almost certain my head spun around on my shoulders.

Twice.

I was concerned she suddenly lost her hearing. Or her sanity. At that moment, I was pretty sure it was the latter.

Her eyes slowly rolled up in my direction (she is a bit shorter than me) with a look that all but told me I was an idiot and needed to shut my mouth. In a very annoyed voice, through gritted teeth she uttered, “I don’t really care who it is.”

At that, he started to walk away.

Stay tuned for Part 2 next week…

 

 

Toto, Tornados Aren’t Just for Kansas Anymore

My town/state/part of the country was hit pretty hard by several tornados and macrobursts a little over a month ago.

What is a macroburst, you ask? Heck if I know. Let’s ask the Interweb, shall we?

A strong downdraft, of over 2.5 miles in diameter, that can cause damaging winds.

The words “tornado” and “macroburst” were not ever a part of our vocabulary in these parts. We are more accustomed to words like “nor’easter” and “blizzard.” Pretty benign in the scheme of all things weather.

So, when we were suddenly warned of a tornado in our area I didn’t take heed as I probably should have. I left the office too late, but yet not early enough. If you know what I mean.

I don’t know tornados. So, I just kept thinking, “how different can it be from a snowstorm?” You know, without the snow.

For the record, it’s a lot different from a snowstorm.

When I finally had the wherewithal to leave the office, I was met with marble sized hail hitting me in the face. By the time I got to my car, I looked and felt like a wet dog. Can’t tell you if I did or didn’t smell like one. I’m hoping for the latter.

As I made my way out of the parking lot, an emergency broadcast announcement came on the radio that said there was a tornado spotted in the area and to seek shelter immediately.

Seriously? A tornado? We don’t get tornados. And kept driving. Luckily the tornado was ahead of me, so by the time I got near my exit, it was a thing of the past.

Trees and power lines were snapped in half like pencils and scattered everywhere like a game of Pixie Sticks gone awry. Traffic suddenly got backed up as people were trying to maneuver their cars around all the debris in the roads.

IMG_0062It was at this point that I felt the first twinge of needing to void. Because today of all days, I decided to drink ten glasses of water.

After sitting in my car for what seemed to be an eternity and daydreaming of a bathroom (even a nice woods would have done the trick except they all came down with the tornado), I was able to get within a mile of my street. The only problem was, I couldn’t get any closer. Every road was blocked by trees.

Every.single.one.

I did have a water bottle. You know, those single Poland Spring ones. The problem is I don’t quite have the anatomy to make it work. Being a man truly would have come in handy at that moment.

But alas. A man I am not.

After turning around multiple times and cursing those ten glasses of water, I was able to get to the house of a friend of mine.

After doing what seemed like 55 mph up her driveway, I slammed on her door with the back of my fist while screaming her name.

No one was home, of course. Except their cute dog. Who thought it was playtime and ran to get his toy. Unfortunately for him, there was a solid door between us so no playtime was in his future. I do have to say, I was wishing dogs were granted thumbs so he could reach up and turn the door handle for me.

It was then that I made the executive decision to use the backyard as a facility. I dropped my drawers and felt the relief run onto the grass. I didn’t even care if anyone saw. That expression, “desperate times call for desperate measures” could not have been any more true at that moment.

A little wiggle and a shake and I was on my way to going home.

Except I couldn’t get there.The closest place I could park was at our local high school which is a mile and a half from my house. That isn’t bad on a normal day, but there were trees to be scaled, mud and water puddles to jump over, and power lines to be avoided.IMG_0049

I am Wonder Woman about as much as I am a man. The last time I really exercised, I tore a meniscus, so let’s just say the shape of me is less than ideal.

But, with my big black umbrella, oversized fake Louis Vuitton bag, and work clothes, I started on my way on foot anyway.

I walked through those mud and rain puddles, climbed over those downed tree limbs, hopped over those power lines. All while the sounds of emergency vehicle sirens, chainsaws, and generators filled the air.

IMG_0058I have to say I was pretty proud of myself. I got really far. Until I couldn’t. A nice man let me walk through his woods that led to my street. In retrospect, walking through woods that just took a beating by Mother Nature probably wasn’t a good idea. Apparently, I didn’t care.

In no time at all, I was on my street. So, with water squishing between my toes and mud up to my knees, I made it home.

My neighbors who had already gathered to cut down the trees blocking the road referred to me as “Mary Poppins.”

Except I didn’t have the ability to fly. And I wasn’t singing “super-cali-fragil-istic-expi-ali-docious.”

Mainly because I don’t know all the words.

Anyway, our little town was severely damaged. Houses were flattened, cars were totaled, trees were lost, power was out for a week or more for most of our town.IMG_0063

Sadly, two people lost their lives during the storm. What amazes me is that there weren’t more fatalities.

It’s times like these where you really feel the love and unity of people in and outside of your community. We are always so busy with our lives, and divided in these tumultuous political times, but when it comes down to it, we are there for each other. Irregardless of our beliefs or lifestyles.

People getting together to help out a neighbor in trouble, opening homes to strangers who couldn’t get to their own home, giving rides to those whose cars were stuck elsewhere, emergency workers from all over the country coming to help.

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DH, and me with our friends, Dawn and Mike who put out the word to come help out a neighbor in need. That entire spot was filled with downed trees. Thank goodness for chainsaws and manpower. We had that cleared out in no time.

I love my little town, and am so proud to be part of a community filled with people you can count on.

But no more tornados, please. I think I’d rather stick with snow.

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When things get tough, the tough make “Tornado” martinis after a long day of helping others.

I’ll Take One Cardboard Box…er, Microwave Oven, Please

What happened to the good old days — days that existed before I did — where everyday household appliances lasted longer than Betty White?

I know this to be true because my mother-in-law gave us her old Electrolux when we first got married. You know the kind. It had a turquoise blue canister that you dragged around behind you. The only reason we don’t have it anymore is because we were tired of dragging it behind us.

But that baby sucked. And good.

About six years ago, we renovated our kitchen. Gutted it to the studs. It was past due by about two decades. The flooring was this weird blue or gray or Blay-something linoleum with a mystery burn mark from 1989.

The cabinets were resurfaced so many times, veneer was being held together by Scotch tape. Want to know how many pieces of Scotch tape? I can’t tell you because I can’t count that high.

The ceilings were made of popcorn. Not the kind you eat. The kind that is ugly. The “kernels” of the ceiling were unclean-able. But this post isn’t about my ugly unclean-able popcorn ceilings.

Or the cabinets.

Or the linoleum.

Which were all replaced anyway in The Great Kitchen Makeover.

With our new kitchen, came all new appliances. A fridge, dishwasher, oven, stove top, and microwave. Beautiful, gleaming, stainless steel, gorgeous appliances.

Word to your mother: Stainless steel is a pain in the literal ass. I love it, and there really is nothing else I like better. But dang, don’t touch it or you’ll be sorry.

The microwave started to go last fall. Or winter. I don’t remember the exact timing. What I CAN tell you is it was one month past the five year extended warranty we purchased with the, umm, purchase.

Want to know what DH was told when he called? “Well, sir. This is why you should have bought the 10-year warranty.”

This guy was the start of our troubles -- not the towel, the towel is great -- the microwave.

This guy was the start of our troubles. Not the towel. The towel, which was a gift from a friend of mine, is awesome and if I knew you were coming I would have ironed it. So, no. Not the towel. The trouble I speak of is this here microwave.

Yes, he said that. He basically implied, in so many words, that this happens. The lifespan of an appliance is five years. Five. Cinco. Fem. Five.

You know what lives longer than this microwave? A fire ant.

That’s embarrassing.

He then proceeded to inform us that we were basically shit out of luck. You know, in so many words.

Unfortunately, this man doesn’t know my DH who does not take “no” for an answer (legally, of course). After many phone calls, going into the store that shall remain nameless countless times, emails and more phone calls, it finally got fixed. Albeit, six months later.

Or maybe it was longer. When you are in microwave-less hell, time marches on like waiting for a sloth to cross a six lane highway.

I mean we had to pay for it. You know, because our five year warranty expired. But for unexplainable reasons, we had to just about sell our first born to get someone out here to repair it.

That is just as big of a mystery as the burn hole in our 1989 linoleum.

It wasn’t easy either because the microwave is set into the wall. But I don’t need to explain the specifics because I don’t really care. It’s fixed. Although I will add that every time we get some kind of electrical storm, we have to turn off the power that runs to it so it doesn’t get fried.

It’s great fun running into the basement to pull the fuse when we hear thunder in the distance. Remember that old trick we used to do when we were kids? Counting between thunderclaps to see how far away a storm was (one one thousand, two one thousand…)? It’s not so fun when your life –I mean, microwave — is on the line.

We spent a lot of money on these appliances. We could have paid for a trip around the world for one. Ok, so that’s an exaggeration, but we definitely could have gone to Disney World. Twice.

Next to go? The dishwasher. My treasured dishwasher. The dishwasher I cannot live without. I do not do dishes. Even emptying the dishwasher is a chore. I cried for a whole month when The Kid left for college. Not necessarily because I missed her (I did), but because that was her thing.

Not by choice, but because I made her.

I’m an awful mother who hates manual labor and all kids should have to pay their dues anyway, you know?

But I’d take emptying the dishwasher over washing dishes any day. I sometimes wonder if, in a previous life, I was horribly mauled by a wild boar while leaning over a river washing dishes.

Anyway, I think the dishwasher must have felt the same way about washing dishes as I did. It would run. It would SOUND like it was doing something. But it wasn’t, sad to say.

Note: only buy a dishwasher that loves — no, LIVES — for washing dishes. One word: Research.

The next thing to act up was the lower left burner on the stove top. We can turn it on, but can’t turn it off. Well, we can with a swift smack of your hand in the middle of it by someone who has enough power to knock some sense into it, but that requires third degree burns and a high pain threshold.

I really liked that burner too. It’s the kind that you can connect to the back burner to make it one long burner. Perfect for those big griddles to make pancakes and such.

Next? Our oven. Kind of. It hasn’t actually died. It has just slowed down. In it’s heyday of 2013 it would heat up faster than a rocket being shot up into orbit. Now it takes forever. I can probably build my own fire in the backyard, cook up a gourmet meal for ten, wash my dishes in the river, and it would still be warming up.

I’m afraid to say this out loud, but the fridge is the only guy standing. It’s still going strong. Until tomorrow. Because I’m superstitious and that’s just what happens. (Knocks on wood)

So, what do you think? Is this the biggest conspiracy since the whole “Elvis is still alive” thing? Maybe. I mean, I’m pretty sure I saw him in Shop Rite last week.

 

Episi-WHAT-omy?


imagesI didn’t hear the word “episiotomy” until I was a young adult. I guess my mother never deemed it necessary to discuss the topic. Even though it kind of falls under the whole sex talk category.

You know, love, sex, conception, childbirth, episiotomy.

I mean, I completely understand her reasoning. She wanted grandchildren. She must have known if I knew what could become of the skin between my vulva and rectum during childbirth, I may have joined the nunnery instead of motherhood.

The first time I did hear the word, I was a twenty-something professional working for a large corporation. A co-worker who recently had a baby somehow felt it was her civic duty to give me the nitty-gritty of what can happen to your perineum during the delivery of a child.

After I received the blow-by-blow, I walked out of her office looking like I had seen the Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come, with a rectum closely resembling Kim Kardashian’s lips in selfie mode.

But I was young and single. The thought of having babies was far away. Besides, from what I heard, it didn’t happen to everyone. I was certain I would be one of the lucky ones when the time came. So, I tried to relax and forget about it.

Which I did.

Until it happened.

Fast forward to Delivery Day. I am the age of thirty-one and in the throes of childbirth. Screaming every obscenity with each contraction that would make even the devil blush.

After the worst pain known to man was over and my beautiful baby was on this side of the world, it turns out I wasn’t one of the lucky ones. I didn’t feel a thing at first. Not until all the drama of what just went on down below the waist subsided.

“My God, what is that PAIN?” I screamed. “Why does it hurt like I was accosted by a jack hammer?” For a moment, I started to panic. Wondering if they got confused. I came in to have a baby, not a colonoscopy performed by a member of Laborers Union #60.

And then I remembered. It came back to me like last night’s chimichanga. My co-worker was absolutely 110% correct. I got cut all right. I was also ripped like a flimsy piece of poster board.

Yup, my sweet baby girl, the fruit of my loins, tore my bottom to smithereens.

I never actually looked down there to confirm, but I heard from a witness (my husband) that my incision was in the shape of a lightening bolt. Does this make me a super hero?

Well, yes. Obviously. That goes without saying.

But I didn’t want to see. The thought brought me back to that day at the office. It made me want to clench my posterior nether region like all those years before, but any clenching down there made me wish I was born a man.

I tried so desperately to not let the thought of its presence enter my mind. But it just kept popping up like a Whac-A-Mole at the county fair.

I was prescribed some stool softeners and a sitz bath and was sent on my merry way. When I walked, I felt as if I was channeling John Wayne. Except I wasn’t as sexy. Or nearly as cool.

The drive home from the hospital was not exactly a ride through Happy Town. Every bump and pothole was felt from here to Timbuktu. My thighs burning from holding up my own body weight. Which, I dare say, was a bit more than I was hoping for.

Ahh, the baby weight. The gift that keeps on giving.

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May I introduce to you the “Donut Pillow” AKA Butt…err, Life Saver.

Once I settled in at home, my mother — bless her heart — gifted me with the best item I ever received. It came in the form of a pillow. It was shaped like a donut and was soft and billowy.

Me and my donut pillow did not go anywhere without each other for a long time. We were thick as thieves. Stuck together like glue. He was the Frick to my Frack. The Ying to my Yang.

The sitz bath also helped tremendously with the discomfort. I was told to do 2-4 sessions a day. If anyone is unaware of what a sitz bath is exactly, it’s this contraption that looks like a little tub and rests inside your toilet seat. You fill it with warm water and this special solution and then you sit on it. There is a hose that you can use to aim that liquid miracle right at your incision with. It is total nirvana.

CX_P708-00_Image1I was so completely obsessed with this thing, that my 2-4 times a day was more like 12-14 times a day. I couldn’t get enough of it. I was sitting on that toilet like the Queen of Sheba. Ordering my husband around from my perch, feeding myself stool softeners as if they were peanut M&Ms.

Anyway, glad I survived that. It has been over nineteen years, but I still remember like it was yesterday.

They told me you forget the pain of childbirth. Something about the release of oxytocin or endorphins? You know, so you’ll do it again and humanity can continue to exist.

It’s hogwash.

How do I know? Well, I only have one kid. You be the judge.

Adventures of a Blizzard or Do Not Try This at Home

IMG_0138With the exception of approximately eight of my fifty years, I have lived in the Northeastern region of the United States. The other eight, I lived in states and countries where the weather is crazy and sometimes temperamental.

In other words, I am no stranger to snow, hail, sleet, blizzards, snowmageddons, nor’easters, bomb cyclones, and hurricane strength winds that knock the power out for days on end.

I have bathed out of a bucket, used the backwoods as a toilet, and burned enough candles to light up Alaska in December.

I have collectively shoveled enough snow in my lifetime to fill the Taj Mahal, have chiseled ice from my windshield with the sharp end of a pair of jumper cables, and defrosted a car door with the highest setting of my blow dryer.

And as of this past Wednesday, I can add “driven in blizzard-like conditions” to my resume. Don’t get me wrong. I have driven in snow before. Lots of times. But this was different.

First, let me give you a little background on my driving career. I got my license when I was eighteen years old because I was lazy, not scared. My first car was a Chevy Nova with an eight cylinder, 350 engine under its hood.

Because my parents thought this was apparently a good idea.

My favorite pastime was to do donuts, burn rubber, and drag race down the Taconic State Parkway at midnight. When I was a senior in high school, “Mario” was my nickname.

In other words, I loved driving and still love it. I am not afraid to get behind the wheel. I will drive anywhere, anytime, with or without a navigator. If I get lost, I get an unnatural thrill. A little bit of a high.

I no longer do the crazy things of my youth, but I have been known to put upwards of twenty thousand miles on my car in a year. This gives DH anxiety. I get the “wear and tear” lecture at least once monthly.

But like a petulant child, I pay him no mind. Cars are meant to be driven and dammit I’m driving them.

The Kid had spring break this past week, and spent half of it in Chicago. She and a friend had airline tickets to return home on Wednesday. In the middle of a major snowstorm.

fullsizeoutput_1eAfter changing flights five times and having them all get cancelled, they were able to get on a flight that stuck. It was pretty much the only flight that got off the ground that day. And it seemed an airport an hour was shutting down all the way from Philly to Hartford.

When I received the text that announced they were buckled in their seats and getting ready for take-off, I threw on my trusty parka and snow boots and started my approximate hour and a half drive to the airport.

Mind you, shortly before I left it had begun snowing lightly. In fact, we were in disbelief that the airports cancelled all morning flights as the storm didn’t even start until nearly noon. But it is not my business to question these things.

All I knew is I was happy my kid got on a flight. It was a miracle and it was going to be a miraculous day.

Little did I know HOW miraculous it was going to turn out to be.

In less than an hour, the lightly falling snow turned into a storm of epic proportions. One that even the Abominable Snowman would stay in his cave for. Aside from the fact I almost lost control of the car and ended up under an eighteen-wheeler, the ride down was fairly uneventful. It only took me about a half hour longer to get to my destination. No thanks to snowplows.

Note: Getting stuck behind a snow plow in a nor’easter is where you want to be, as frustrating as it is. I like to refer to this operation as “The Parting Of the Seas.”

After I gathered the girls, we started on our journey home. It was still light at that point. Not that it made a bit of difference. The fact that there was a full-on white-out made it nearly impossible to see twenty feet past my nose anyway.

54215396667__80DFB6BB-9AD1-4CDB-976D-30AFC62EEAC1The snow was piling up on the highway faster than cow dung at a cattle roundup. We experienced more fish tails than the Great Barrier Reef, and saw more cars slide off the road than Pinky Tuscadero ever did.

The drive was a harrowing experience, laced with white knuckles, bowel anxiety, and at one point, a dashboard filled with flashing lights. Even my little Subaru was trying to tell me something.

“Sue.” The little car that could. That girl is a beast and I owe our safety all to her.

After four hours and thirty minutes, one pit stop for a bathroom break and the de-icing of the windshield later, we we were just about home.

There was nothing anyone wanted to do more than eat tacos, lie on the couch and watch some Netflix. It’s all we were talking about for the last two hours of our trip.

As we turned onto our road (“turning” is an understatement — my Nova days flashed before my eyes) we all saw three consecutive bright flashes that lit the entire night sky. As if someone was putting on a light show welcoming us home. It would have been beautiful, had it not been what it was.

As we pulled up to our house, we were met with complete and utter darkness. That beautiful light show was a blown transfuser on fire a mile up the road.

Tacos turned into turkey sandwiches on stale bread. And Netflix turned into an early bedtime with a book lit by candlelight. Although, I almost burned down the house. Candles are dangerous and should not be allowed in the vicinity of me.

By morning the power hadn’t come back on, which also meant no water. So, I got my butt up, took a “whore bath,” which is something I learned to do from DH’s grandmother (bless her soul), and went into work where I sat alone because no one was crazy enough to drive in. Which was a good thing because an unshowered me is none too pleasant.

I was happy and enjoying the all too often taken for granted electricity, heat and flushing toilets while the rest of the suckers in my town lived their day out like an episode of Little House on the Prairie.

In retrospect, I should have gotten a hotel near the airport for the girls and picked them up the next morning. Then again, we wouldn’t have the memories. Even amid the white knuckles and clenched bums, we had some good laughs.

Would I do it again? Of course. Because although you can take the girl out of 1985, you can’t take 1985 out of the girl. That’s just how I roll.