School Is Cool. Unless You are Me.

Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop Writing Prompt:  What was your least favorite subject in school?

Mama’s Losin’ It
 

I was not a student.  I’m still not a student.  While I will praise school and push the importance of education until the cows come home on my daughter, I did not continue education for myself.  Because I hated school.

What was my least favorite subject?  Let’s change that question to ask what was my favorite subject.  Actually, let’s change that question again to ask what was the only subject I liked.  You know, in the interest of time.

The only subject I liked was English.  Because it was the only subject I was good at.  And the only subject that interested me.  Being that I’m turning into a quasi-writer, I guess that’s a good thing.  At least I know where the some commas go.  And the difference between their and there.  And too and to.  And I know what a run-on sentence looks like although I always break that rule because in my head a run-on sentence gets my point across better even though everyone probably thinks I’m a dope and knows I’m making a major faux-pas. You should probably not start a sentence with “And” either but I do that because this is my blog and I can.

I did not like Math.  I still don’t know all of my multiplication tables.  Don’t test me because I will fail.  I love and appreciate History now but not so much back in the day.  I could give or take Science.

I absolutely abhorred gym because I was insecure and hated the way my legs looked in shorts.  I was scared to death of Dodge Ball.  (They finally banned that, didn’t they?  See, I knew what I was talking about.)  And I was so happy when I contracted Mono and my doctor said I had to sit out for gym for the remainder of the year.

I didn’t go to college.  I tried.  For 2 semesters.  When I was 20.  The company I worked for was giving me a full ride.  Guess what?  Hated it.  Even free.  Not only that, but I sucked at it.  Big time.  DH and my parents would say that I didn’t try.  But I did.  I just sucked at it.  Or maybe I just sucked at it because I didn’t take any classes that interested me.  I don’t know.

I used to be embarrassed when the inevitable question came up at play group…”what college did you attend?”  I had a speech for this.   I felt the need to explain myself.  Every time.

Now?  The answer is, “I didn’t go to college.”  Period.  End of story.  It’s taken me years to get to this place.  My daughter said to me a few years ago, “You know mom.  You can go back to school.  You aren’t too old.”  It made me realize that I had no interest in going back to school.  And that I shouldn’t be ashamed of my choice.  It’s my choice.  And I have to live with it.

My daughter doesn’t seem to have much of a choice.  It seems that these days you need a degree if you want to be a Professional Ass Wiper (that’s not what she wants to be, I’m just saying that you would need a degree to be one).  But I digress.  Wow.  I just realized that I really digressed.  A lot.  Geez.  Sorry about that.  What was the question?

Oh, right.  So, that’s my answer.  Math, History, Science and Gym.  I didn’t mind Recess.  Oh, that’s not a subject.  Or the answer to the question.  I forgot.  Never mind.

My Favorite “Candy”

flintstonesFlintstones Children’s Multi-Vitamins.  Apparently, these were my favorite candy as a child.  Even though they aren’t candy.  What does Bayer expect when they make these delightful little character shaped guys taste like fruity goodness?  It’s like an explosion of deliciousness in your mouth.  I’m sorry.  But you cannot have just one.  Nope.  Not when you are 4.

The story goes like this:  We lived on an Army base at the time.  I somehow managed to find my way to the stash of Flintstones in our kitchen.  Because I was in the mood for sharing.  And that’s what I did.   I shared.  I sat in a circle with a few of the other Army people offspring in my neighborhood and I rationed them out right there in plain sight.  Under the swing set.  Yup, I did.  Emptied out the entire bottle.  Right into the mouths of all my little followers.

It’s really very simple.  We OD’d on Fred, Wilma and Betty.  Could you imagine the headline?  “Four year old Flintstone dealer murders her fellow tots by brainwashing them to overdose on Bam-Bam.”  Try to live THAT one down.

Needless to say, no one died.  In fact, the only mother who seemed a bit concerned was my own.  I was rushed to the hospital where they pumped my stomach.  Actually.  No.  That didn’t happen.  Sounded exciting though, didn’t it?  I was rushed to the hospital.  Where I was forced to eat bread.  To absorb the iron or something to that line.  The other mothers weren’t concerned.  They were just gonna sit back and see if anything happened.   Maybe they were waiting for rainbow colored vomit?  Who knows.  But we all survived.

Did it make me swear off the Flintstone forever?  Nope.  When The Kid was small, I would sneak them into my mouth.  But no more than 2 a day.  Sometimes 4.  If it was a particularly rough one.  Five.  Tops.

This blog post was inspired by Mama Kat’s writing prompt:  A favorite candy when you were a child

Mama’s Losin’ It

A Tribute to Tee Tee

to vs too
True story

A fellow blogger posted something today that made me think of someone from my past.  My English teacher from secretarial school.  Secretarial School.  Do they even have those kinds of schools any more?  I’m guessing not.  Geez.  They aren’t even called secretaries now.  If someone refers to me as a “secretary,” I immediately correct them and say “administrative assistant.”  On that note, if someone asks me what I did in my previous life and I answer “administrative assistant,” it is usually followed by, “what is that?”  Therefore, forcing me to say, “secretary.”  So, really, what’s the point?  Oh, wow.  I digress.  Big time.

Mrs. Schneider.  She spoke with one of those fake english accents and would drag out the last word.  “You sound like a cow chewing its’ cuuuuuudddddd.”  You know.  Kind of like Zsa Zsa Gabor but not.  She wore pointy bras that just begged for us to call her “torpedo tits” (Tee Tee).  And she buried 4 husbands.  After 9 months with this lady, I think I could take a gander at what the cause of death was.  Visions of cutting out their tongues because they ended a sentence with a proposition comes to mind.  Can you imagine if she were still around to read my blog?  I’d have to go around wearing a Hannibal Lecter-style mask for fear she would hunt me down and add my taste buds to her collection.

She was the Original Grammar Nazi.  If we so much as spoke with a lazy tongue, we’d get a lashing.  She abhored songs that did not use proper sentences.  Let’s take The Rolling Stones’ “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” for instance.  The use of the double negative would have sent her to the nearest loony bin.  And if we didn’t answer with a “very well, thank you” when asked how we were, we were sent directly to secretary detention.

My biggest fear was misuse of the comma.  Every time we had to write an essay, my anxiety would reach epic proportions.  I inevitably would get my paper returned to me with big, fat, red marks.  My assignment would look more like a subway map than homework.  And to this day, I’m not really sure if I’m using commas correctly or not.  Do I underuse them?  Overuse them?  Without Mrs. Schneider around, I guess I’ll never know.

Good Old Mrs. Schneider.  Thanks for trying.  I did walk away with quite a bit of useful information though.  That’s for sure.  But those commas.  Damn commas (or should it be comma’s?) will forever be a burr in my butt.  Forget about semi-colons.  Oh, I gotta go lie down.  Or is it lay down?  No, no, I believe it’s lie down.  Right?  I mean, correct?

Good Bye Dr. Suess

Except this.  This was her favorite.  Or was it mine?
Except this. This was her favorite. Or was it mine?

I was one of those weird pregnant ladies who would read poetry to my womb.  Every morning.  Before work, I would toast myself 2 frozen waffles loaded with butter and syrup and sit down to read a few chapters from a book of Mother Goose collections.  Don’t judge me.  I had to eat waffles because they were the only thing that didn’t make me feel like I had to hurl.  Besides, she was getting some nursery rhymes in return.  Swapping brain food for umm, brain food?  What’s so bad about that?

Why did I do it?  Not the waffle thing, but the poetry thing.  Because I had read somewhere that if you start reading rhymes to your fetus, they will turn out brilliant.  Brains courtesy of Little Boy Blue.  Who would have thunk?  This habit of reading to her continued on from the day she was born until she just didn’t want me to read to her any more.  When was that?  I can’t pinpoint a date.  I  will wager a guess at somewhere right around tween-dom.

Needless to say, we had accumulated about a million books throughout the years.  A million.  And now here I am almost 16 years later with them all over the house.  In her room, on shelves, in closets, in the playroom that is no longer the playroom.  Everywhere.  It was time.

So, with all the energy I could muster, I got myself a couple of cardboard boxes and started neatly piling children’s books into them.  One by one.  Each one a memory.  Angelina Ballerina, Dr. Suess, Goodnight Moon, Tomie dePaola, just to name a few.  I gave them to a friend of mine who has a bunch (yes, a bunch…no lie) of young children.  I knew they were going to a good home.  Why should I be selfish and keep them to myself, allowing them to collect dust?  Not being touched by anyone?  It was time to share the love.

I was surprised by my emotions.  I know I sound sappy.  But it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in a long time.  So many memories.  I used to love bedtime.  Not only so that I could have quality time with my glass of wine, but because The Kid and I would snuggle up in her bed and I would read to her (no, I didn’t drink wine while reading to her).  Three books.  That was the limit.  Three books of her choosing.  Every night no matter what.  Well, I would swap with DH but he read to her too.  Every single night.

Aaah, those were the days.  Now I have to worry about her driving in a couple of months and going out with boys and hoping she doesn’t try marijuana.  Oh Lord.  I’m having a panic attack.  I think I want my books back.  Or at the very least, visitation rights.  Think my friend will mind?

Finnegan, Finnegan, Wherefore Art Thou Finnegan?

When I was about 10, I had a parakeet.  He was blue.  He was pretty.  He was stupid.  I named him Finnegan.  Because that was the name of a parakeet my grandmother had once.  And because I was an unimaginative child, I couldn’t think of anything else.

I made it my life’s mission to teach that bird to talk.  I tried.  And tried.  I pushed learning my times tables aside to teach this bird how to talk.   That’s why I don’t know my “8’s” to this day.  He never learned.  He never tweeted either.  Not to be confused with Twitter.  It didn’t take long before I realized that Finnegan was depressed.  I should have figured that out when he was cowering in the corner of the bird cage at the pet store and wasn’t playing with any of the other parakeets.

One day, I decided to clean out his cage in the garage.  I don’t know why.  Maybe I figured if I got bird poop and chewed up seed shells on the floor I wouldn’t have to clean it up?  I asked my brothers ever so nicely to not open the garage door while I was in there.  Boys being boys, they did what they wanted to do.  And opened it anyway.

Finnegan took this opportunity to run for dear life.  So off into the wild he went.  Free as a bird.  Literally.  Out into the big open sky only to be breakfast for some eagle or raccoon.  I threw myself on the ground and started screaming.  I screamed and cried as if someone had forced their way into our home and was killing all the members of my family with a butter knife.  I was absolutely, completely and entirely devastated.  My first heartbreak.  The day my dear pet parakeet left me.

Every day for a week, I went outside and called out his name.  “Finnegan, oh Finnegan, come back home.”  I was pathetic with a capital “P.”  It didn’t work.  He never came back.  It took me a good 2 years to get over that one.  Seriously.  I probably should have had some therapy.

After I was done being sad, I got angry.  Angry that he didn’t appreciate all that he had.  A warm house, food, water, a mirror, a loving and caring “mother.”  I kept saying to myself, “yeah, well I wonder what Finnegan is saying to himself now?  Huh?  ‘oh what have I done? why did I leave?  I’m cold.’  Too late now, isn’t it, Finnegan.  You damn ingrate.”

Umm, yeah.  Therapy may have done me good.  Think it’s too late?

Mama’s Losin’ It

 This writing prompt was brought to you by Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop

Shalimar: The Choice of Mrs. Beasley’s Everywhere

image016-1Shalimar.  It was my mother’s favorite.  Past tense.  Because she got all weird about smells and they give her a migraine or something nowadays.  But whenever I get a whiff of it, I am immediately reminded of an incident that occurred when I was four.

We lived on an Army salary.  Which wasn’t much.  Or so I’m told.  My parents didn’t have many material items.  They certainly didn’t blow their money on extravagant things.  Except this one time.  This extravagant thing was Shalimar.

My dad saved for months to be able to purchase a bottle of the real stuff for my mom.  Real, honest to goodness perfume.  Not cologne.  Not toilet water.  Perfume.  It cost him a small fortune.  And we didn’t eat anything but hot dogs and drank nothing but tap water for 2 months.  Actually, I don’t think that’s true.  But it makes for a better story, doesn’t it?

The love of my life was Mrs. Beasley.  If you are above the age of 40, you know who I’m talking about.  Buffy’s doll from “Family Affair.”  I adored this doll.  Adored her.

beasley_a

There is no better thrill than taking the top off a bottle of perfume and pouring it over your favorite doll.  Every last drop.  I promise.  Best. Thrill. Ever.  Boy, did Mrs. Beasley smell good.  Just like my mom.  My mom, on the other hand, was not happy.  Which was odd, because I was quite certain she would be thrilled.  Honored even.

My mom was 9 months pregnant with my youngest brother (according to the Army doctors of the day, she was eleven months along).  She swears this incident threw her into labor.  Looking back, I kind of did her a favor.  I mean, come on.  Eleven months pregnant?  The kid would have had a full on beard if he waited any longer to come out.

And Mrs. Beasley?  Two words:  Garbage Dump.  I was devastated.  So, my mom couldn’t get the smell out.  Why did she care?  It was her favorite after all.

Mama’s Losin’ It
 

What’s In My Name and Other Stuff

My name is Maureen Catherine.  My close friends call me “Mo.”  My mother wanted my middle name to be spelled “Kathryn.”  But that’s not how Catholics spelled it in those days.  The woman at Town Hall told her so.  Bully.  My father wanted me to be “Dawn Marie.”  I’m glad he didn’t get what he wanted.  I do not look like a Dawn.  And with the way I am with songs, every time someone said my name, Tanya Tucker would be popping up in there.  Every time.  I just know it.  The other day at work someone yelled, “COME ON EILEEN!”  Not good.  Especially since that is probably one of my least favorite songs ever.  Just so you know, it’s still rattling around in my brain.  But I digress.

When I was a kid, I must have asked my mother what my name meant.  Which is really weird for me.  Because I was a simple child.  I didn’t think much.  Seriously.  I’m not hating on myself.  I just was not known for my thinking skills.  I’ll give you an example:  When asked on a test if I was Male or Female, I didn’t know the answer.  I figured I had a 50/50 shot at getting it right so I guessed.  Of course, I guessed incorrectly.  Which happens to be the story of my life (you know, guess the wrong answer, get in the wrong line at the grocery store…).  Unless I had grown a penis overnight, I was female (and still am, I swear).  I was about 7 when I took that test.  And that statement about me figuring I had a 50/50 shot?  That’s not true.  I just took a stab at it and failed.  Accompanied by a mini anxiety attack.  I can still see my 7-year-old self totally freaking out because I hadn’t the foggiest idea what the hell that meant.

Another time, while standing in line at the school cafeteria, a girl asked me what my nationality was.  I looked oddly at her for a second and then I just turned around and completely ignored her.  Yes.  I ignored her.  Just like that.  Turned my back in the hopes that she would go away.  It worked.  I couldn’t even remember the word to ask my mom when I got home.  But when it came up later in life, I had one of those “aha” moments Oprah is always talking about.  Sorry to the girl who was probably trying to be my friend.  I’m Irish.  And for the record, you are a show-off.

little house on the prairie dress
I loved “Little House” so much that I asked for a prairie dress for my birthday. This beauty touched my toes.  I’m sorry you can’t get the whole effect.  You’re missing out.

Anyway, my mother, or someone,  said my name meant “Mary.”  I was thrilled at this news.  I knew that Mary was Jesus’ mother.  I also knew that Mary was my favorite character (other than Charles for reasons I do not need to explain) on Little House on the Prairie.  When I went to school the next day, I wrote my new name on every single assignment.  Because I figured if that’s what it meant, then I had a right.  Besides it took less time and energy to write it out.  My teacher was not empathetic.  And gave me an “F” on all my assignments that day.  That was the beginning and end of Mary.  It turns out my name doesn’t mean Mary at all.  It means “bitter.”  Hmm.

I was born in New Jersey to an Army father and housewife mother.  We moved all over the country and even lived in Germany for a few years.  I never went to college, but attended a trade school where I honed my typing and shorthand skills.  Skills that are falling by the wayside because I can’t find a damn job but that is a story for another time (or did I already write about that once or twice?  Yes, I am Bitter.  I’m allowed.  That’s my name after all).  I met DH when I was 19.  We married when I was 25 and we settled in Connecticut.  We have one child.  My life is full of excitement and adventure.  Have you seen that new show “Naked and Alone?”  Yeah, well, I did something like that once.  Except I was wearing clothes and I was in my backyard.

So, that’s it.  Are you amazed?  I know.  Try to contain yourself.  I’ve been trying to get TLC to do a reality TV show on me, but they refuse.  I don’t understand.  I could be a big money maker for them.  Big.  Their loss.  They’ll be sorry when NBC comes knocking on my door.  Until then, you can find me hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro.  Just kidding.  I’ll be on my couch. watching reruns of Friends.  I’m so glad Ross and Rachel ended up together.  Aren’t you?

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?

photo
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.

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.

Dorothy-Hamill-Wedge-Haircut

scan0106
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.

Flick My Bic

images
My secret weapon

I love to tell The Kid stories from my youth.  Of course, she could probably care less.  I’m pretty sure most of my stories bore her to tears.  But I trudge on.  Not really caring what she thinks because she MUST know.  I mean, there is no way she can go on without knowing what my life was like as a teen.  I had no cell phone.  I had no laptop.  I had no texting.  But do you know what I did have?  Eyeliner pencil that was applied by heating it with a lighter.

photo
Me and my “liquid” eyeliner

I remember ducking into the girl’s bathroom between classes to reapply.  Lighting the end of my liner pencil until it was soft.  Pulling down my lower lid and applying hot, black, liquified liner to the inside of my eye.  What is that part of the eye even called?  I don’t know, but it was silly.  What I did.  What all of my female classmates did.  And what you did.  Because I know you did this exact same thing.  Don’t try to deny it.

And if we forgot our liner at home, or lost it, or it was too short to use any longer, we would borrow a friends.  Because we loved to share everything.  Including Pink Eye.  And another perk?  Those cool little funky black dot floater things.  Running all around the white part of our eyeballs.  So sexy hot.  Honestly, I don’t know how I wasn’t distracted by everything going on in there.

After reminiscing with myself about my beauty routine of 1984, I wondered if anyone still does this?  So I did a little Google search.  And the answer is “yes.”  This silly little beauty ritual is still practiced today by some.  But I think I’ll stick with eyeshadow.  It’s fast, easy and foolproof.  I don’t need a steady hand.  And I happen to like my eyeballs where they are.  Droopy eyelids included.