It Ain’t Like It Used To Be. Or Is It?


I am not a lover of Halloween.  I’m guessing it’s purely for selfish reasons.  It sucks when all you want to do is finish your glass of wine in peace and the damn doorbell rings every 2 minutes.  But as a kid, I loved it.  Our parents didn’t make a fuss over our costumes.  If it wasn’t homemade, it consisted of a cheesy plastic mask with a matching outfit made of more plastic.  If you were to even look at a lit candle, you would go up in flames.

I remember my costumes to be simple.  One year I was a ghost.  A sheet thrown over me with cut-out eyes.  Another year I was an angel.  With wings made of wire hangers and some nylons.  When I got a little older, I made my own costume.  I can’t even count how many times I dressed as a hobo.  Wearing my dad’s shirt stuffed with some dirty laundry and blackening my face to make it look like I needed a bath.  The final touch was a stick with a handkerchief tied to the end.

But the best part of this holiday was the candy.  We went house to house with our little flashlights and pillow cases and within a couple of hours, filled that sucker with so much candy that the only way to get it home was to drag it.  And if it was possible to subsist on sugar, we could literally feed a small village with what we collected.

At the end of the night, my 2 brothers and I would dump all our candy out on the living room floor.  After my mom raked through it to make sure there were no apples with razor blades or unwrapped candy dipped in poison, we organized our loot into piles.  And we swapped.  “I’ll trade you 2 Bazooka’s for one Charleston Chew.”  And we had enough candy to last until the following Halloween.  Sometimes longer.

Today, I live on a street that is about a half a mile long.  If that.  There are about 16 houses in total.  There is enough space between each house to land a small plane.  Walking at a snail’s pace and then stopping at each house to beg for candy would take well over 2 hours.  We would meet up with the other neighborhood kids and go Trick or Treating together.  Our kids loved it.  They got so much joy out of it.  And you know those little plastic pumpkin head “bags?”  Well, they would just about get filled.  Just about.  But The Kid would dump out her loot and her face would light up.  She would ooh and aah and scream, “MOM AND DAD, LOOK AT ALL MY CANDY!”  All the while, I am saying “sucker” to myself.  Because she was actually getting scammed.  Bad.  Real bad.

Well, guess what?  She finally smartened up.  About 3 years ago, it dawned on her that her candy loot kinda sucked.  Now she insists on going to bigger neighborhoods.  Neighborhoods that have houses that are right next to each other.  Neighborhoods that consist of hundreds of houses.  With a thousand children milling about.  With lots of festivities and laughter and fun.  Houses with strobe lights and monsters hanging from the trees.  A Halloween just like mine.

Do I feel guilty?  Nah.  Because at the end of it all, when you ask her if she has good memories of her Halloweens, the answer is a resounding “YES”.  Sucker.

We Interrupt Your Life For An Important Commercial Announcement

My cute little niece’s handprint. And some stubborn streaks.

When did my life turn into one big commercial?  From the moment The Kid was born, conversations range anywhere from what diapers do you trust most to what college does your child want to apply to.  I used to laugh at those commercials where women are having coffee and talking about bladder control all the while wondering who actually does that?  Unfortunately, I literally could be the star in that commercial.

Today, I am trying to get some housework done.  I have close to 7 stainless steel items in my kitchen that need cleaning.  SEVEN.  Because when we were redoing our kitchen, I HAD to have the “in” thing.  Which is weird for me because I don’t really care that much about that stuff.  My master bath still has wallpaper from 1979.  And I actually own and wear a jacket my mother bought me before I got married 21 years ago.  Oh, how I love that jacket.  But I digress.

I haven’t cleaned my appliances in a couple of weeks because I dread it.  Ok, maybe it’s been more than a couple of weeks.  Ok, so it’s been exactly 7.35 weeks because my cute little niece’s handprint is still on my fridge from their September 7th visit.  Yes.  It has been a while.  But come on.  I think I’d rather be forced to watch an “Overhaulin” Marathon on the Speed Channel for a week.  Ok, that’s not entirely true because I could really go for a good eye gouging before that happens.  But cleaning stainless steel really, really sucks.

Anyone who has stainless steel in their home, knows what a pain in the f@#*ing ass it is.  I do love the way it looks (minus the streaks).  So I’m not quite at the point where I am having buyer’s remorse.  I think I’ll wait a couple of years for that to kick in so DH doesn’t smother me in my sleep with the plastic wrapping our toaster oven came in.  So, back to my commercial.  Here is a text exchange between a friend and me earlier today:

Me:  What do u use to clean ur stainless steel?

K:  Perfect Stainless

Me: Does it work? Cuz everything I try leaves freaking streaks.

K:  Yeah.  Until my kids get home.

Me: how I long for the days of white appliances

Really?  What happened to our conversations geared around going out dancing, grabbing a beer or shopping? (ok, so I never actually called a girlfriend to go for a beer because I can’t drink it anymore after this specific episode in high school.  And I would have said wine, but that sounds a bit too Buffy, don’t you think?)

So, what am I doing now?  Writing this blog.  In my kitchen.  And looking at my cute little niece’s handprint on my fridge.  Not getting a damn thing done.  But the streaks are so bad.  Oh well, there’s always tomorrow.  And my cute little niece’s handprint is on my fridge.  How can I erase that?


I’m Sorry

I-Am-SorryWhy do I apologize for everyfreakingthing?  When someone bumps into me, I am the one who says “I’m sorry.”  If someone says to me that they have a headache, I say “I’m sorry.”  If someone gets in my way, it’s always “oh, I’m sorry.”  It’s irritating.  There are other, more important things to say “I’m sorry” for.

I remember being a school age kid and letting other kids cut me in the cafeteria line at lunch.  “Can I get in front of you?”  “Yes, please.  Go ahead.  In fact, why doesn’t the whole school get in front of me because I really don’t need to eat today.”  Even now, if someone is in a rush and wants to get ahead of me in line at the grocery store, I let them.  You know what?  No.  No, you cannot get in front of me.  My time is just as important as yours so the answer is “No.”  Oh, but I can’t do that.  Because that wouldn’t be nice.  Then I would feel like a total and complete bitch for an entire week.  But I can behave in other bitch-like ways and be fine with it?

Back in January, I started turning over a new leaf.  Like major.  I went from a Crab Apple to an Oak.  It is taking months, but I’m getting there.  I am a work in progress.  It started with this blog.  Then I changed my poor eating habits.  I began exercising.  I lost a shitload of weight.  I got a job.  So, in less than a year, I discovered a talent I never knew I had, got healthy and became an active participant in contributing to my family on a monetary level.  You know what else I discovered?  That I am not perfect.  I have been judgmental.  Participated and believed in rumors.  Maybe made fun of someone for a laugh.  Said something that was hurtful to another person or to someone else about that person.  Every one of us has done at least one of the above-mentioned things.  At some point in our lives.  Because it’s human nature.  But it doesn’t make it right.

Too many people don’t take accountability for their actions.  They don’t apologize.  And I’m not talking about bumping into someone at Shop Rite either.  They don’t apologize for doing or saying something hurtful to you or even worse, behind your back.  Spreading rumors, or just being plain mean.  We would have more respect for people who will admit that they are human.  That they made a mistake.  They said or did something that wasn’t so nice.  Said or did something that was hurtful.  And that includes me.

As part of turning into an Oak, I am learning to be a better person.  Be less judgmental.  Not participate in gossip.  Not believing rumors.  It’s a constant battle.  To be aware.  So, for anyone that I was judgmental toward, said something that was inappropriate or was not my business, I apologize.  For allowing myself to believe rumors and perpetuating these rumors by helping to spread them, I apologize.  I am so sorry for anything I did or said to hurt you.  Truly.  I was wrong.  And I am really sorry.

I want to be accountable for my actions. All of the above is mean and ugly behavior.  I do not like it when others act this way.  So why would I?  It would be so nice if everyone followed suit.  It would make such a difference.

Integrity.  That’s what we need to have.  Integrity.  If every human had integrity, the world would be a better place.  I’m working on my integrity.  And as for apologizing when I get bumped into?  I probably will always do that.  No matter how annoying it is.

Most Ridiculous Inconvenience

MRII had an MRI the other day.  I’ve never had an MRI before, so I didn’t know what to expect.  But really?  Why does it take 30 freaking minutes to scan ONE knee?  My experience in 6 bullet points.  In case you were wondering.

  1. There is one thing they need to add to the “How to Prep for an MRI” list:  “Don’t bother waking up early to spend extra time in the shower shaving your legs because we will be providing lovely pajama bottoms for your convenience.”  And I totally would have loved my 3XXL pj bottoms if I were sitting around pigging out on pork rinds and Krispy Kremes watching back episodes of “The Big Bang Theory” on a Saturday afternoon.  Totally.
  2. Thank you so much for the headphones with the volume set on 1.  I assumed they were meant to drown out the sound of the MRI, not Barry Manilow.  My bad.  “Oh Mand…bangbangbang…you came and you…boomboomboom.”
  3. The nice technician lady told me that when it makes a “clicking” sound to be very, very still.  Because I am a rule follower, I did as I was told.  The only problem is I never quite heard a “clicking” sound.  What I did hear was a jackhammer and a machine gun.  There is nothing worse than lying in the same position for a half an hour scared shitless of what will happen to you if you so much as breathed too deeply.  It took 15 minutes to get feeling back in my right foot.
  4. I find it funny that when you can’t move, itches multiply.  It’s an odd phenomenon, isn’t it?
  5. It’s probably not a good idea to let your mind wander during one of these things.  My mind happened to wander into a story I heard a long time ago about an MRI gone bad.  All I could think about were the keys hanging by the door that unlocked my locker.  It was possible that they could have come flying off the wall and stab me in the brain, right?
  6. I kept wondering when it was going to be over because I really needed to move my foot.  Then 27 minutes into it, I noticed there was a timer above my head.  I just love how detail-oriented I am.

Whelp, the results are in.  Not only is my left meniscus torn in one place, but in two.  Apparently, it’s both a quick fix and a quick recovery.  In fact, they do it while you are awake.  Great.  I can’t stand the thought of having a bloody nose.  Imagining that they will be making two holes in my leg while I lie there awake will most likely freak me the freak out.  I’m hoping they give me something other than a knee numbing drug.  A brain numbing drug would be really nice.  Yes, I would like that very much.  Taking the chance I may say something inappropriate while under the influence is one I am willing to accept.  Oh hell, let’s face it.  I say something inappropriate even when not under the influence.  Bring it on.

And as far as running is concerned…I am going to run my ass off for the next 7 days.  Because after that, I can’t do much for a week.  Ok, two weeks.  Ok, after I ran into someone I know today at My Retail Job, it turns out I need to not run for 6 weeks.  Shit.  I’m now thinking I should have crammed a pair of those 3XXL pants into my bag.  I may be needing them.

Use Your Words

textWhen I was a teen and was crushing on or dating a boy, I would wait with anticipation for the phone to ring.  And when it did ring, no one in the house stood a chance.  I would run, climb, claw my way to the phone before the second ring was halfway through.  I would knock over a brother standing in my way if I had to.  Then I would stand tethered to the wall while we had a conversation.  An actual conversation.  Where words were spoken.  When the conversation ended and we said our good-byes, we hung up (“Hang up.  No, you hang up.  No, you hang up first.  Okay, on the count of 3…”).  It was that simple.  And the boy always called me.  It was never the other way around.

I am always telling the kid that she needs to have an air of mystery when it comes to boys.  I don’t want her making the same mistakes I did.  I would bend over backwards and make sure I was available.  I would always answer the phone.  Always be around.  So my advice to her has always been to play a little hard to get.  Be yourself, be kind.  But don’t be so readily available.  Make them work for you.  Give them a little bit of a challenge.  I mean, don’t be the queen of Iceland, but leave them wondering.  Even if just a little.

There is a post that an author wrote recently.  One of my Facebook friends shared it (click here to read it).  Everything about this is smack-you-in-the-face true.  Why didn’t it occur to me that in this day and age it is difficult to uphold an air of mystery?  Nothing is sacred anymore.  That being said, I have been approaching the whole thing incorrectly.  And now, I’m afraid it’s a bit too late to fix.  I was advising her as if we were living in the dark ages.  I forgot about technology.  I should have been taking a different approach.  From a different angle.  Now what the hell do I do?  Take away her texting privileges?  Good Lord, the girl would “totally die.”  I think she’d rather have an arm cut off.  It would take her twice the amount of time to text, but at least she could.

Like the article says, “conversations” don’t end.  Until bed time or they literally cannot physically have their phone on them because of field hockey practice or dance class.  For the love of God.  It’s insane.  I’m not so sure I could handle all this back and forth banter.  It would be enough to drive me absolutely up a tree.  She could have her best girlfriends over and I would go upstairs to her room to find them all sitting on the floor texting.  Who are they texting?  Who knows.  Maybe each other.  To avoid actually speaking.  Because they don’t know how.

Well, I try to look at the bright side.  At least I don’t have to fight with her over who gets to use the phone.  And keeping an air of mystery?  How about stop responding to a text within 4 seconds?  At least make ’em wait 5 seconds.  That should leave them guessing.

Liquid Gold

550px-Relieve-Stuffy-Nose-in-Toddlers-Step-4I have a love affair with nasal decongestant spray.  AKA Afrin.  Zicam.  Vicks.   Who cares what the name of it is, it’s what is inside that counts.  Like my Oxi Clean, this liquid is a miracle.  And I absolutely, positively CANNOT live without it.  God bless the inventor.  Johnson & Johnson or whoever.  God bless you.

I am currently suffering from a mean head cold.  And every single night for the past few nights, as I’m trying to fall asleep, one or both of my nostrils closes up like a sphincter during a rectal exam.  Some people will sit up in bed praying for some air to get into their swollen membranes, some will put on one of those strip things.  Some will hold their head over a pot of boiling water.  None of that helps me.  Not at all.

So I have to go straight to the good stuff.  Pulling no punches.  Why waste time sniffing in steam when I can sniff in some instant gratification?  But be careful, because “they” say it can be addicting.  I make sure I only do it once every 24 hours and then stop after about a week.  Which is how long my colds usually last.  If it goes longer, well, then, I cannot tell a lie.  My Afrin stays on my bedside table.  Within my reach.  Just in case.

When I was pregnant, DH was a little anal about what I put in my body.  Sometimes it worked in my favor.  He didn’t want me inhaling chemicals.  Which meant no cleaning bathrooms for 9 months.  He was freaked out about nitrates too.  So anytime I had a craving for a ham sandwich, I had to go underground and ingest one illegally.

Pregnancies typically last 9 months.  I usually get a cold once a year.  So what are the chances I would get a cold while I was pregnant?  Well, I don’t know because I’m not good at math but my chances were pretty good.  During this cold I had while I was pregnant, I needed a dose of nasal decongestant.  I had to wait until DH was asleep.  This was not an easy task because he is not much of a sleeper.  I tiptoed to the bathroom to my private stash.  Not only did I have to flush the toilet, but I had to run the water as well, as I squeezed 1 shot up each nostril.  Ahhh.  Sweet, sweet relief.

Hey, don’t judge me.  I’m usually a 2-3 shot user.  Anyway, did I feel guilty?  No.  Not really.  Because it was only a little bit.  And besides, a pregnant wife who can breathe freely is a happy wife.  And we all know what happens when pregnant wives are happy, don’t we?  Well, me neither.  But I do know my nose is stuffy, so I have to go.  I have some business to attend to.  See you on the dark side.

A Bar and Some Bobby Socks

DH and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary last month.  Not only was it our wedding anniversary but it was also the day before our anniversary of the day we met.  27 years ago.  It’s crazy how fast time flies, isn’t it?

We met on September 19, 1986.  I was a recent high school graduate and was attending a secretarial school.  I had just started a new job at a major corporation.  I also had a boyfriend of almost 2 years.

We met in a bar.  In my hometown.  About a 40 minute drive north of DH’s hometown.  It’s kind of a long story but here it is in a nutshell:  I was with a friend and her friend.  You had to be 19 to enter.  My friend’s friend and I were 19 but not my friend.  So, because we were such terrific friends to our friend, we drove that bitch home because there may have been a boy inside that my friend’s friend was hoping to see.  Someone she had met in the same place approximately 2 weeks prior.  It was a long shot.  But when you are 19 and boy crazy, it was a chance she was willing to take.  And besides, little did I know but this was fate in the making.  And you cannot mess with fate, man.

Not only was the boy there, but the boy had a friend.  The one and only future DH.  And he was gorgeous.  I mean, drop dead.  There I was, with my permed blonde hair, black pencil skirt, red peplum jacket, bobby socks and blood red pumps.  And this gorgeous guy was trying to talk to me.  I kind of blew him off because, well, certainly he was just being nice.  After all, he was there because his friend asked him to go in hopes of running into the girl he met 2 weeks prior.  Weird, right?

I wore this skirt. This was my hair. I was hot.

My friend’s friend and I found a table in the back and sat and drank.  A couple of hours passed, and Mr. Gorgeous appeared before me asking if we could go outside to talk.  So I went.  We talked. Really, that’s all we did.  I might murder The Kid if I knew she went to go talk to a complete stranger in a parking lot at midnight.  I gave him my number.  He said he would call.

He did call.  The very next day.  But I didn’t get the message.  Because my brother forgot to tell me. He happened to remember when he overheard a conversation between my mom and me.  I was expressing my disappointment that he didn’t call.  Needless to say, he picked me up for our first date later that day.  I was a nervous wreck.  Wondering if I just had beer goggles on that Friday night.  It was also dark.  To my dismay he was beautiful even in the light.  And that boyfriend of 2 years?  He kinda got dumped.  Poor guy.

The rest is history really.  I’m not 98 pounds anymore.  My hair is not permed.  I have to color it now to get my natural color back.  DH has less hair, but doesn’t weigh much more than that first night.  Why is that?  Oh, and whatever became of my friend’s friend and DH’s friend?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Like I said, don’t mess with fate, man.

Miracle In a Spray Bottle

oxi cleanIt’s called Oxi Clean Max Force and it is a miracle worker.  I kid you not.  This stuff is the shit.  If you do not own a bottle of this, I suggest you stop what you are doing this very minute and get your butt down to the Stop & Shop and purchase yourself one.  You will not be disappointed.

I am, by nature, a stain maker.  I even have a bad habit of staining DH’s clothes.  And I don’t even wear his clothes.  That is as much of a mystery as this cleaner is.  How his clothes happen to appear dirtier after a wash.  I don’t know what they put in this stuff, but it is truly amaze-balls.  A-MAZE-BALLS.  I don’t care if it causes some weird neurological twitch that will appear in 20 years.  Because I am not stopping.  It’s like a drug and I am an addict.

I have a confession.  I have been using it for some time.  My mother suggested it when I was complaining to her about stains and my inability to remove them.  But the enormity of its power didn’t quite hit me until yesterday when it took a ridiculously hideous stain out of a fairly new shirt.  A stain that has been washed in hot water at least twice and sealed even further by an iron set on the hottest, steamiest setting.

I am not lying when I tell you that it gets stains out that have been there for years.  YEARS!  When I realized this, I scoured every closet and drawer in my house.  I got together crap that hasn’t been worn in ages because of stains.  And let me tell you, there was quite the pile.  This stuff took out all of it.  All Of it!  Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.  If it doesn’t work, I’ll eat my stainless shirt.

I Have Been a Very Naughty Girl…er, Old Lady

Maxine and exercise

I have decided that I am being punished.  I am being punished because I started taking care of myself at this stage in my life.  And it’s not just me.  I know a few people in the same age bracket who are being punished for the same exact thing.  And it sucks.

I have never had a real injury in my life.  I’ve scraped a knee from falling, because I’m a klutz.  I’ve bumped my head by forgetting to duck while entering my car, because I’m forgetful.  I’ve burned myself on the oven rack because, well, I’m an idiot and didn’t use a potholder.  But I have never had an injury that is incurred by being an athlete.  Because I never did a sport in my life (except track team, age 14, one season).  Sure, I did aerobics in the 80’s, but who didn’t?  And besides, that doesn’t count.  It was more about who had the cutest thong with matching scrunchy socks.

I received a text the other day from a friend who is also a runner, among other things.  She’s been really working it to get into shape.  She’s about my age.  She was diagnosed with bursitis.  Bursitis!  Probably because she has been weight training.  The poor girl.  All she’s guilty of is trying to sculpt her body.  Because she wants to be healthy.  And look good.  Like me.  So when we go through menopause, we can be ahead of the game and avoid that ugly meno-gut.  That damn ugly meno-gut.

About 2 months into running, I started experiencing pain in my left knee.  It hurt a little.  But I still ran.  No biggy.  Then I injured it at work.  And still ran.  Then I stopped running for a day or two because it hurt.  Then I slipped on water in the kitchen and twisted that mo-fo knee.  Then I went for a run after a couple of days of rest. Then I tripped on something at My Retail Job.  Now the stupid thing just hurts.  All the time.

I went to the orthopedic guy the other day.  To get to the bottom of this situation.  I need an MRI because the x-rays can’t see a damn thing.  Thanks for the shot of radiation for no reason, doc.  Then he said some nonsense about it possibly being a torn meniscus or something along those lines.  I stopped listening when I heard “meniscus.”   Just so you know, they don’t repair themselves.  All the “resting” in the world will not help.

So, I started riding my bike.  My big, fat mountain bike.  On the road.  The one with cobwebs and a gear shift that gets stuck.  The one that literally hasn’t been used since 1997.  But it’s exercise.  Because I’ll be damned if I let a little ripped meniscus stop me from taking care of myself.  And gaining 25 pounds back.  No freaking way.  I would rather eat cow poo while swinging from a 46 foot high tree limb.  Ain’t happening.  And just so you know, I’m going running with my Bursitis friend this week.  Screw you meniscus.  Screw you Bursitis.  Try to stop us.

Bowl-ing for Haircuts

If you are a child, don’t let your mother make your clothes or cut your hair.  Mine did both.  I didn’t have anyone to warn me.  If you are an adult and one or both of these things were thrust upon you by your mother, then I’m so happy to be in the same club.  Because misery loves company.  I’m just glad we lived to tell about it.  You should have seen what she did to my brother for his First Communion.  His bowl wasn’t even deep enough to house a goldfish.  He refused to go out for days.  Or have his picture taken.  Otherwise I’d be sharing.

69 Maureen0003-2
Geez, there are a lot of carbs on that table.

In the pic above I would guess I was about 2.  My mother was probably 23.  I’m not really sure why I look so happy.  What I am sure about is the depth of the bowl she used on me so I would sport that look.  See that smug look on my mother’s face?  I believe she’s laughing at me.  Giving me the “I know what’s coming in 12 years, so I’m getting you now for years of future anguish” look.

Then when I was about 10, she tricked me into cutting my long, blonde locks.  I happen to remember the moment because it was downright traumatic.  She totally bamboozled me.  So what if my hair was sticking to my sweaty armpits in the heat of an August summer day?  “Oh, but The Dorothy Hamill is so in and besides, imagine how much cooler you’ll be,” she said.  Or something like that.  She took complete advantage of me while I was perhaps feeling a bit vulnerable.

Remember, Dorothy had the “wedge” in back.  It didn’t quite work out that way with me.  In addition to thick hair, she had body.  Although my hair was thick, it contained as much body as an anorexic lizard.


I have no idea who that boy is. By the look on his face, he doesn’t like my haircut either.

My hair looks more like a floppy dishtowel, don’t you think?  Check out the shirt.  That was a “Mom’s Specialty.”  She had an obsession with elastic (remember this posting?).  I know.  You wish you were cool like me.  My new haircut looked great with my homemade denim gauchos, by the way.

After that debacle and the time she spent hours trying to home perm my follicles only to have my hair go pin straight immediately after releasing the rollers, I never let her get her hands on my head again.  Ever.  Although I am the root cause of many a bad ‘do of my own.  Look for examples coming soon.  In the meantime kids…if you see mother with scissors, run for your life.