A Deserted Nest

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It’s a typical Friday night. Back from an early dinner out. HGTV and wine as a follow-up. I look around the room while my husband and I discuss stuff. You know. Just stuff.

Like his dream car, how Corporate America has sold itself out, and why we would like to have Punxsutawney Phil murdered.

As I look around, I suddenly feel the innate loneliness of the empty nester. 

Our child is not home. She’s off in Europe traveling for spring break. She hasn’t been living at home, except for Christmas break, summer, and here or there since August 2016 when she left for college. 

I look around and it dawns on me that our job is done. We are parents, but in a different light. We are no longer in the thick of diapers, temper tantrums and middle school drama. No more homework anxiety and carpooling to dance class. 

It’s just us. Two people who started out as two people. Back to the beginning. But with a slight difference: Toned bodies are replaced by lumps, and tout skin is replaced by crows feet. AARP cards now reside in our wallets nestled beside the Costco cards, and Metamucil is the drink of choice over mimosas.

I always dreaded this time. I wanted to hang on to her childhood for all of eternity. To cherish and coddle. To keep my grip tightened on that adorable cherub faced baby. 

I never thought I would so wholeheartedly accept this stage of her life, of our life. But I am here to say that I do. I mean, aside from the emptiness of the house I feel from time to time. Like tonight. 

I love the relationship I have with my daughter. Somewhere over the last couple of years, she has become my friend.

I no longer reprimand, I advise. I no longer have to remind her to do her chores when she’s home, she’s mature enough to do them unasked. I like that I can drop my favorite “F” word in her presence without feeling like I’m going to completely corrupt her.

I love listening as she regales us with stories of college, and her experiences living in a big city. I don’t want to say I am living vicariously through her because that sounds so cliche, but truth be told, I am.

She is living and breathing experiences I never got to have. College, travel, living on her own. So, yes. I am living vicariously through her and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

It was easy being her parents. I am confident that we did a good job and even more confident that we can watch her fly knowing she will succeed. Not without some bumps and bruises because life is not perfect, as we all know. But I know she will succeed in the real game of Life. She has proven to us that she has the skills. Skills she built all on her own.

Now it is just my husband and me. It’s been like this for close to three years. I am loving this stage of our lives and loving the relationship I have with him. It’s just the two of us and it’s a time of rediscovery. I know. It’s another cliche. But it’s true. And it’s pretty cool.

The Salty Wanderer

They should call me the wanderer. My brain roams like a cell phone outside of its home area. It roams around, around, around, around, around.

Case in point: A couple weeks ago I joined a few friends for a salt cave experience. If you haven’t heard of this trendy new spa-like therapy, let me explain.

It’s basically a cave — albeit a manmade cave, but a cave nonetheless — with Himalayan salt covering the floor and walls. When I Googled the benefits, I was told tiny particles of salt is released into the air. I’m not sure if they did that at the place we went to, but I will say my lips and mouth tasted like I drank a salted margarita. Which normally isn’t a bad thing, except there was no tequila.

The health benefits are aplenty from helping to ease inflammation to respiratory issues. As well as a slew of other ailments. Sounds good, right? Yes, it seems so.

When we arrived, we were told we had to be quiet. This is a difficult feat for me. I’m the person who checks off “I like quiet” while I’m getting a massage, but talks the massage therapist’s ear off anyway.

I’m the person who has been told by dear friends, more than once I might add, that I don’t “always have to talk.”

I’m the person who, if there is no-one else to talk to, will have a full-on blown-out conversation with herself. Or the dog. Whoever wants to listen.

Needless to say, this part worried me a bit.

When we were led with stockinged feet into the grotto, we were met with a quiet glow. The room was softly lit with carefully placed rock lamps all around, chaise lounge chairs with blankets draped over the backs were evenly spaced about, and fake stars twinkled across the ceiling.

A nice, professional picture I found on US News. This is very similar to the place we visited.


This is my amateur photograph. I’m not sure what it is, but you can see the salt on the floor.

The temperature was set at a cool 68-72 degrees. You would think that was cozy, but it’s not. It’s chilly, and I believe there is a reason for that. Hence, the blankets.

After we assumed our positions, a soft voice came over the loudspeaker. It basically told us to breathe deep, relax, and enjoy. And were warned that in approximately forty-five minutes we would be awoken and our session would end.

Forty-five minutes. How was I going to do this? That’s soooooo long. I repeatedly told myself to be still in my mind, to be present in the moment, and to try to stifle the giggle that was forming at the back of my throat. The kind of giggle that emits from a twelve-year-old every time he hears the word “fart” or “penis.”

But within seconds, I was peeking at my friends from the sides of half-opened eyelids, wondering where the speakers were that emitted the spa-like music, thinking about what I would want for lunch, and hoping the new boutique by me would be getting in their new spring line soon.

Then something happened. With the warm blanket draped over me, I fell asleep. And before long, that voice, the same voice that told us we were about to begin, came over the speakers telling us our session was over.

The voice that was so soothing to me just forty-five minutes before, was like a jackhammer to my eardrums and startled me from my slumber.

The twelve-year-old in me was suddenly four and I felt like I was being jolted awake during naptime at nursery school. I was not happy. I needed another two hours. I wasn’t ready. I was relaxed.

“But you’re hungry,” I reasoned with myself. And the stomach wants what the stomach wants. So, I put on my big girl pants and moved along. It was past my lunchtime, anyway. And margaritas were calling my name. With tequila.

If Clothes Maketh the Man, Then Why Did He Invent the Bra?

I find it funny how I plan my life around my bra. This is true. And I know I’m not alone.

From the moment I put it on in the morning I dream of removing it. By mid-afternoon, it’s all I can do to not pull it through the armholes of my top and fling it across the office space right into the trash receptacle so it can live as one with yesterday’s lunch and the extra printer copies of last month’s budget.

But alas, I hold it together. No pun intended.

I mean, come on, what is so appealing? The shoulder straps don’t stay up, and if they do, they dig into your skin like a bad habit. There is the feeling of a vice tightening up around your ribcage with every breath. And the underwire feels as if a moat is being dug around the underbelly of your bosoms.

It’s safe to say my commute home is filled with images of me being braless. And as soon I get in the door, that’s what I do. Go braless. I really have grown quite a distaste for the — dare I say — “over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder.” If you haven’t quite guessed.

Although my younger self would beg to differ and, quite honestly, would have mouth agape in disbelief at my proclamation. Back in the day I would spend tons of money and hours looking for the perfect bras to match each pair of underwear. The pride I took in my undergarments was a bit ridiculous.

I also took the “make sure you have clean underwear because you never know if you’ll be in an accident” advice my mother repeated to me ad nauseam to a whole new level.

In defense of my younger self, the ta-ta’s were cute and perky and just, cute. Thirty some-odd years later they have been poked and prodded (thank you mammograms, ultrasounds, and self exams), been the food source for my newborn, and gained a few pounds, to say the very least.

These days, I’m lucky to put on a pair of underwear that don’t have a hole in them or that are so stretched out it’s a miracle they stay up at all. Forget about matching my bra. That ideal went out the window with the dawn of the new century.

So, getting back to my point. Once the bra comes off, I’m done for the day and/or night.

A friend could call me to go on a crazy adventure where a meeting with Channing Tatum (or is that Tatum Channing?) would be promised, and I wouldn’t do it. I’d rather endure a trip to Hell than put that medieval torture device back on.

DH could want to surprise me with a quick rendezvous to Tahiti for a romantic dinner for two…oh, well, Tahiti probably wouldn’t mind if I went braless so that’s a bad example. But you know what I’m saying.

If The Kid is home from college and she wants to invite her boyfriend over, I either banish myself to my room like a hermit for the evening, or will not allow the visit.

Yes, I am embarrassed to say that I have said, “Can’t you go over there? My bra is already off,” more times than I care to admit. And if he comes over anyway? Well, that’s HIS problem. Everyone has been forewarned.

Remind me why we wear bras again?

Yes, I know. People could get hurt, including our very own chins when we run. And they “girls” could be mistaken for extra belly fat, if you know what I mean.

I guess the bra is here to stay. Unless we can bring “bra burning” back into fashion. I know how to light a match. I learned that when I…ahem, never mind.

Note: I love my breasts. They are one of my favorite parts of my body, and I’m so fortunate to have them. But damn, that bra. It’s the bane of my existence. Wait. Have I said that already?

The Big Clean Up

Is it just me? Or does everyone do it? I am talking about the opposite of purging. Not purging. Of accumulating. And collecting.

I don’t collect, per se. Not on purpose anyway. I don’t think my old cans of tomato paste will be worth much. Unless I just didn’t get the memo.

I have suddenly realized in the last few weeks that I really need to clean up. Every drawer, every closet, every cabinet, every everything.

And no, I am not KonMari’ing my life. Yea, I would love to choose joy, Marie. But I’d rather wallow in my joyless self-pity of collecting crap.

Also, I can’t really talk to my things.

Oh, that’s not true. I have been known to curse at the hangers in my closet when they’ve gotten tangled beyond recognition, among other conversations with inanimate objects I’m too embarrassed to admit to.

We don’t have clutter out and about. We don’t keep stuff on our countertops, or on the tables, or shoved into corners. No, we make sure the clutter is hidden. Away from everyone. Including myself.

Except now it’s starting to bother me. Like when I open any given drawer or closet in my house, I am suddenly filled with this irrational rage. Maybe it’s a mid-life thing seeing that pretty much everything pisses me off lately.

Maybe I’m “nesting” for the next phase of my life. I certainly don’t want to leave all this for The Kid to have to deal with if we, say, kick the bucket or decide to move without a forwarding address.

I just spent hours — on a Saturday, my precious Saturday — cleaning out the “kitchen” pantry. It’s not even in the kitchen. It’s really a mini “mud room” off my family room leading out to the garage. There is a door so we don’t see the mess and the reminder of what bad things lurk beyond.

God bless that door.

This is the “after.” I wasn’t swift enough to get the “before.” Don’t be jealous of my 1970’s wallpaper.

There is also a cabinet IN my kitchen. It’s one of those tall ones with the pull out shelves. I love those pull out shelves. I almost didn’t get them. When we were designing our kitchen, the consultant lady said, “oh, you’ll want to get the pull out shelves. Believe me, you’ll appreciate them.” And she was right. I can’t imagine my life without them. They are almost at the same level of fondness I feel for my daughter.

Those drawers give me joy. Also, another inanimate object I talk to.

Let me just tell you, I’m pretty sure the last time I cleaned out either one of these things, was back when Ross was on his third wife (Rachel, in case you’ve forgotten or just didn’t know).

So, here’s a glimpse into some of the things I tossed:

  • Four jars of pizza sauce that expired in 2013
  • Three opened boxes of crackers from New Year’s Eve 2012
  • Too many to count cans of tomato paste that really were probably empty from evaporation
  • Rice so old there may have been bugs crawling in there but I wouldn’t know because I was afraid to look
  • Much, much more

And the most surprising find?

That umbrella I thought we left behind on our last vacation.

In our food pantry.

On to the next project. I have written in my new planner what I am going to attempt to clean out. According to my plans, I should be done by the end of April. I’ll let you know how it goes. But if you go by my procrastinational ways of the past, you’ll need to add seven years. You know, like you do for a dog.

My Netflix show would be called “Cleaning Like a Dog.” I’m not sure I would talk about items that bring you joy, but I can promise it would be quite entertaining.

And next time you are looking for an umbrella, check the place where you keep your food. You just never know.

The Non-Facial Facial

I went for a facial last week. I haven’t had a facial in over twenty years. My pores have got to be as big as Lake Eerie. But I wouldn’t really know, so don’t pack your swimsuits yet.

You can’t tell from this photo, but my face is on fire.

I was expecting to be criticized by the apparent lack of time I spend on my skin.

I pictured in my mind what was going to go down between me and the esthetician:

Her: What do you do to take care of your skin?

Me: Oil of Olay cleanser and moisturizer. Twice a day.

Her: **faints**

But that’s not how it went. More on that in a moment.

When I entered the room, she told me to get undressed. I then had a choice to put on the wrap-around terry-cloth thingy or get under the covers naked.

Since I couldn’t figure out the terry-cloth thingy attachments, I opted for nude. I don’t have a problem being nude when I go for massages, so why should it be different for a facial?

When she re-entered the room, she gasped when she saw the terry-cloth thingy sitting there.

Her: “OH, you chose to go NAKED! Ummm, okaaaeeee then???!!!”

Well damn, lady. You gave me a choice. Don’t make me feel bad about it. I’m pretty certain I’m not the only nude person you “facialed” in your lifetime.

She never asked the question I was fairly certain she’d ask. Instead, my face was immediately accosted by a 50,000 watt light bulb and scrutinized by something that must have been equivalent to the highest powered microscope legally allowed on the market.

Her: Oh honey, do you wax?

Me: I used to but now I don’t because it’s all grey and you can’t see it. 

Her: Oh honey, I’m looking at black hair on your lip. Your face is the first thing people see. You really need to clean this up. And your eyebrows. And oh my, your CHIN!

Me: Wait. What? I don’t have hair on my chin!

Her: Oh honey, you do.

I know I’m starting to go through the change, but come on. Enough WAX-ABLE hair on my CHIN? I’m still trying to deal with this new bit of information.

I may need several hours of psycho-therapy.

She then proceeded to tell me I should get contact lenses. I suppose to be able to see my facial hair. If I need to get contact lenses just so I can see my hairy chin, then I believe I would really need to have my mental stability looked into.

Next on her agenda? Her interest in my diet. I should eat greens. All kinds of different shades. Every chance I get.

The words “I exercise,” came out of my mouth. I don’t know why.

“Oh, honey, eating greens is MUCH better than exercise. How can you expect to lose weight?”

Come on, lady. I’m not THAT fat! I may be nude under here, but you didn’t actually get a peek.

The insults kept on coming. When she told me I don’t want to look like my mother, I nearly took my naked self out of her room.

Instead, I informed her that she didn’t even know my mother, and told her I know how to eat thankyouverymuch. I’ve been eating since 1967, after all. A lot longer than her. But of course she may just look younger. Because you know, she gets facials…and eats greens.

Anyway, she could give me a nice wax right then if I’d like. But it will cost me $15 per section. 

Yup $45 to wax parts of my face. Oh, what the hell. I was having a day at the spa with my girlfriends. Suddenly I heard myself say it. “Ok. Sure. Go for it.”

Off came the hair.

Of course, I’m very sensitive to waxing and so my face looked like a flaming cherries jubilee for three days. But hey. I have no facial hair at the moment. And that was the purpose of that exercise after all. I suppose I should call this a “Win.”

The next item on her list to conquer was the issue of dryness. “Oh honey, your skin is so dry. For $25 I can moisturize you and it will be wonderful. You’ll feel like a new woman.”

Yes. You heard that right. Twenty-five dollars to slather on some lotion. It could have been Ponds Cold Cream for all I knew.

I sat there trying to quickly calculate this twenty-five minute “facial” that really was no facial at all. I initially laid on her spa bed for $75. We were, at that moment, approximately eighteen minutes and $145 into it.

Again, I heard myself say it. “Ok. Sure. Go for it.”

I should have had my tongue cut out. It would have been cheaper.

As she slathered on the $25 moisturizer that I was hoping was not Ponds Cold Cream, she informed me that she had no time to give me an actual facial.

But she could massage my hands and arms.

It’s a miracle. 

If this ordeal and exchange of whatever the hell I just paid $175 for, including the 20% gratuity this “spa” took upon themselves to gift this judgmental, pushy, wax-hungry, over-moisturizing member of the gestapo, wasn’t so comical, I’d be pretty pissed off.

Instead we all laughed it off at the hotel bar with some margaritas and my hairless, red face. Shall I mention that I had a lime in my drink? I think my esthetician would have been proud.

Next time I’ll stick to tweezers and my Olay. Although, that place did smell really good. Oh, what the hell. I’ll throw in a lavender candle, too. I think I have one in my junk drawer.

Amazon Is Amazing

How did we live without Amazon? This is a serious question.

How DID WE LIVE WITHOUT AMAZON?

Well, ok, so we actually DID live without Amazon. Just like we lived without cell phones, caller ID, WiFi, and Xbox.

We had no choice. And if we couldn’t find what we were looking for, we went without. Or we stayed home and didn’t go to the store because it was too much work or it was snowing, and we didn’t really need whatever we were looking for that badly anyway.

But with Amazon, whether we need something badly or not, we can get it with the touch of a button. And if you are a Prime member (which is totally cheap if you have a college student — another reason why college is so important), you can have all kinds of nifty things delivered to your door step for not only FREE, but in most cases THE NEXT DAY!

Just so you know, Amazon is not paying me to say this. They don’t even know I exist, except that I spend a really large portion of the money we make on stuff I can get on Amazon that I really don’t need.

Christmas this year came in an Amazon box. Actually, it came in several Amazon boxes. Gobs of Amazon boxes. If I weren’t in such a cleaning frenzying state of mind last Saturday, then I would show you a picture.

But alas, they are well on their way to the city dump, or incinerator.

This is not my exact pile, but a very good representation. Look how cute they are, though? Such happy little boxes.

Actually, I hope they are on their way to the recycling place because that’s where I want them to be, but who knows if we can trust THAT system.

CAN we trust that system? I guess that’s a discussion for another time.

Anyway, you’ll just have to take my word for it. I could have stacked the Amazon boxes beyond the roof of my house. Oh heck, I could have stacked them halfway to Venus!

I mean, come on, I have eight great nieces and nephews to buy for. I also have six direct (first generation?) nieces and nephews I still buy for who haven’t reached the age of “no longer buying gifts for unless it’s a really great occasion, like a marriage, or baby, or graduation” yet.

I also have parents, and a mother-in-law, and a husband, and a daughter. Not to mention the many children of my cousins (2nd cousin? Or would that be 2nd cousin once removed?) that I buy for because I want to.

Yes, it’s out of control. I realize this. But it’s not up for discussion. I’m not complaining. I’m just stating a fact.

I probably shouldn’t say this out loud because DH might see. But I just looked on our Amazon account and checked out 2018.

Collectively (when I say “collectively” I include DH and The Kid, which means that I am not the only culprit), we placed 69 orders.

In one year.

Before you judge me, please keep in mind that The Kid orders many of her college textbooks through Amazon. They are used, and although they are expensive, they are less expensive than buying them new.

She also rents them through Amazon. Not that that matters. I just wanted to put that out there for those of you who have college students and didn’t realize this little tidbit.

Some of the things, aside from textbooks, that were ordered from this household via Amazon this past year. In case you were wondering:

  • A Zoodle maker that I never used
  • Mouthwash
  • A comforter set
  • Coffee
  • Vitamins
  • Car crap, lots and lots of car crap
  • An under the desk portable heater because I get very cold at work but yet sweat at night like a monkey in heat
  • A Gregg shorthand book because I plan to reteach myself this skill just ’cause I can
  • Gift cards…lots and lots of gift cards, but much more fun than car crap
  • Toys
  • Books that are fun; aka NOT textbooks
  • Games
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Whiteboard magnets
  • Miso & chili flakes (I don’t know)
  • Mason jars
  • Baby Foot (the foot treatment not the real thing)
  • Flasks disguised as suntan lotion bottles (???)
  • Markers
  • Planner

And last week I was proudly the first person in my family to order an Amazon goodie in 2019. (The Kid DID rent some books for second semester, but does that really count?)

I decided my heels need to be smoothed out, and since I abhor pedicures (I never said I was normal), I had the inclination to, at 10pm, search Amazon for a resolution. And within about a minute and a half, I ordered myself an Amope Pedi Perfect foot file thing that I was the new owner of in less than 48 hours (it’s amazing by the way – the Pedi thing in addition to Amazon).

I may have a problem.

Do you think Amazon sells books on how to cure an addiction to Amazon? Let me go look. I’ll get back to you.

The Widening of the Hips and Other Ailments

I am an administrative assistant by trade. My “trade” was referred to as a secretary once upon a time. That is no longer acceptable. I don’t know if it’s politically incorrect or demeaning, or what. But don’t call an administrative assistant a “secretary.” Or you might get punched in the eyebrow.

I have a secretarial “degree” (aka “certificate”). I went to a secretarial school. Now they are as extinct as the pterodactyl. It seems these days you need a degree to be a secretary.

Ahem…an administrative assistant.

Some companies will only hire you if you have a two- or four-year degree. While others will hire you based on experience. You know, as long as you started working around the time Eisenhower was in office.

But then you’re too old.

Vicious circle.

I got lucky. I found a wonderful company to work for. I have no four- or two-year degree. And I’m kinda old. Ok, so maybe not dinosaur old, but I’m no spring chicken either. My twenty plus year secretarial/admin experience is acceptable.

Anyway, my profession has its perils, believe it or not. And I’m finding out quickly what those perils are.

Back in the day, people would complain and warn me about the dreaded “Secretarial Spread.” It sounds obscene (don’t google it, because what popped up would have made even Hugh Hefner blush). But it’s not what you might think.

The official definition according to Urban Dictionary:

“Secretarial spread means sitting down for a long period of time while the hind-end spreads outward in order to accommodate the chair. “

Sounds awful, right?

Well, it is.

Back in the day, I didn’t worry about it too much. I was young, I exercised and moved a lot. I wore high heels and ran in them.

No, seriously. I did.

Now if I so much as put on a pair of heels that measure higher than half an inch, I run the risk of being hospitalized.

Fast forward 30+ years and there are all kinds of reports and studies on what can happen if you sit all day. In a nutshell, it reduces your lifespan. The instructor at the gym referred to sitting as “the new smoking.”

The only time I touched a cigarette was back in 1982. And I didn’t even inhale.

I swear. 

No, I wasn’t hanging out with Clinton.

Since working back in the profession for which I was trained after a very long respite, I’m comprehending what they meant by the “Secretarial Spread.”

I’m comprehending big (no pun intended).

When I wrote the first draft of this post months ago, I was sedentary.

“Sedentary.” A word I never thought in a million years I would use to describe myself.

But yet, that’s what I was.

I got up to go to the bathroom or the water cooler during the day.  When I got home, I took off the bra, put on my “non-yoga” yoga pants, and moved my ass to the couch.

That was it.

Ok, so I still get home, take off the bra, and move my ass to the couch. Because I’m tired. I’m just TIRED.

But during the day, I’ve been exercising. I go to the gym at work, I do stretching exercises, planks, push-ups, what have you, in the morning before I leave for work.

And it feels great.

But the sitting has caused me to develop hip flexor problems. Oh.my.god. Does that hurt! Had I not been “sedentary” for so long, I don’t think that would have happened.

This hip flexor situation has since given me lower back pain. You know, because my back is compensating for the job my hip flexors aren’t doing.

I think. I mean, I’m no doctor, but this makes sense. Right?

My abdominal wall is also weak. Which is not helping my cause. But I’m working on that.

I’m working on getting myself to a good place health-wise. It’s time. I decided a wheel chair, or even a cane, would not be a good accessory for me.

I mean, I don’t really accessorize anyway, so why start now?

One more thing…

The second part of that definition, according to Urban Dictionary:

“It can be changed with exercise, and activity away from sitting down on one’s spread for too many hours a day.”

I had this thing called a “Veridesk” installed on my desktop at work. It has levers and allows you to lift the thing up so you can stand while you work. It’s a pain in the ass to pull up, but the way I see it, I’m also getting some upper body strength training in.

Getting into shape at work. That brings the expression “multi-tasking” to a whole new level.

If I save one person from the dreaded “Secretarial Spread” then I have done my job.

You’re welcome.

Resolutions Schmesolutions

As I sit here on this second to last day of 2018, I reflect on all the year has brought. I will not hash it out, because that’s what my Christmas letter is for (if you missed it, it’s not too late to catch up by clicking here).

I will say 2018 was pretty uneventful, which is good. But bad in the way that I did nothing to better myself in any way. It was another lazy year that I wish to not talk about.

But as I sit here reflecting, I also think about 2019, and the endless possibilities the coming year may bring.

Speaking of 2019, I saw something, a meme or whatever they are called, that reminded me that 2019 will be the last “teen” years for most of us. That totally freaked me out. I don’t know why. I wasn’t a large fan of my own teens, so I’m not sure why I care so much.

Anyway, a few couple of years ago, I realized New Year’s Resolutions are a complete waste of time. Statistically speaking, 80% of all resolutions fail by February. Thanks again, Google.

Honestly, I’m not sure how I got through high school without Google. It sure is much better than those grocery store Funk & Wagnall Encyclopedias our moms would get when they purchased enough olive loaf, Twinkies, and cherry Kool-Aid to earn a single volume. It took a year to get the entire series, and by then they would be outdated.

ANYWAY, I’m not making resolutions this year. What I AM going to do is make better decisions and conscious efforts to be a better person. To live the life I should be living, that I want to live. And because I am a cliche…be authentic.

These may sound like resolutions, and look suspiciously like resolutions, but they are what I would like to refer to as “Getting My Shit Together and Stop Being a Sloth Once and For All.” Or simply “Life Adjustments.”

All of this has been a long time coming, and honestly, would be happening if it was January 1st or May 19th. It’s time and the new year really has nothing to do with it. I joined an online fitness course a couple of months ago and it really has opened my eyes to what I wasn’t doing. Sometimes, we need a little push and a serious punch in the face.

I am fifty-one years old. I will be fifty-two in less than four months.

FIFTY-TWO.

I realize that fifty is the new thirty.

Or is it forty?

My point is people are living longer and living better, more productive lives. Lives that are filled with quality.

Quality. My life needs to be “quality.” I’m not saying I don’t have a good quality of life. Because I do. I am married to a wonderful man, was blessed with the best daughter anyone could possibly ask for, and pretty much want for nothing. And my health, although I could feel and look better, is pretty good for the most part.

But in this case, when I talk about “quality” I don’t mean what you think. My life has become chaotic. If that’s possible. I never know where anything is. I don’t know if I’m coming or going. I’m disorganized, disheveled, and not always doing what I truly want to do.

I feel like crap because I eat crap. And I look like crap because of the crap I eat. I’m not writing as often as I like, I’m not reading as much as I should, and I’m not exercising like a person who wants to live a better, longer life.

I bought a planner for the first time in my life, and some stickers, and a nice set of pens. For the first time in my life I intend to plan out what I want and need to do. I will plan out my meals, my exercise, my writing sessions, and anything else deemed worthy to be added. Which in my case, is pretty much everything.

I need to start making myself accountable for myself. I need to stop being lazy. Laziness just fosters more laziness. It’s a spiral that I don’t want to be on. And besides, it’s making me dizzy.

Our Family Christmas Letter – Volume 6

It’s that time of year for our family Christmas letter. I’m a little late because I suffer from a major case of something called “Procrastination.” I’ve added that to my New Year’s resolution list in the past, but I’ve always procrastinated working on my procrastination. So, I replaced it with “exercise more.” That one at least lasts halfway through January.

2018 was the year of ailments.

I am now into my fifties and my body knows it. It did not need a memo, reminder, or even a gentle nudge. Some things are just very reliable. I should be proud.

My knee is giving me more problems and the other feels like it needs to follow suit. I guess it has “FOMO” syndrome. Thanks to my twenty-year old daughter, I know FOMO means “Fear Of Missing Out.” My body may be old, but my brain is young and cool. Although, if I didn’t have a twenty-year old kid, that may not be the case.

Hmm, it makes me wonder if my life has just been a big sham the last seven years or so.

I threw out my back recently which is something I’ve never really done before. I’m not sure how I did it. I do know I was in the basement after my twelfth trip from bringing Christmas decorations up the stairs when the pain struck.

There’s nothing like a limping, bent over fifty-one year old woman, who pees her pants with every sneeze, giggle, and cough. I should have asked for a cane and a case of “Depends” instead of an iPhone for Christmas. Oh well. There’s always next year. But by then I may need a walker and bladder reconstruction.

I had a kidney stone episode this year. I thought it was ovarian tumors at first and went and got poked and prodded, tested and scanned by at least three different specialists. The bills for all that are just now arriving. The gift that keeps on giving. Thanks, Santa.

DH is good. If you recall, he lost the peripheral vision in his left eye a couple years ago. The downside is he can’t see my loveliness when I’m standing to the left of him. The upside is I can do amazing tricks, like flip him the bird when he’s pissing me off. It’s really quite fun.

He had his very first kidney stone episode this year. He now knows what childbirth feels like. Hearing him say, “how do women have more than one baby,” while doubled over the toilet bowl from pain-induced nausea was a proud moment.

The Kid got the flu at the beginning of the year. Even though she had the flu shot. She recovered from that after some motherly love and care. That was not fun for me. Seeing your kid suffer doesn’t have the same satisfaction of watching a man in kidney stone hell.

Oh, did I just say that out loud?

DH gets more handsome every year. What kills me the most is his pant size. That hasn’t changed in twenty years. Umm, can I pray for another kidney stone attack?

The Kid is doing really well in college. Can you believe she just finished her first half of Junior year? And I thought my knees made me feel old. I think I should start letting my hair go grey so I can get the full effect.

I started to bond with our German Shepherd. Finally. After four years, he no longer looks at me like I’m a pork chop. Now I can sleep with both eyes closed without worrying he might want a midnight snack.

We went on a nice holiday again this year. Two years in a row. Ireland was our choice this time. I’ve been before and fell in love, so I couldn’t wait to show my family how beautiful and green it was.

But like Turks & Caicos last year where it rained the entire week when it never rains, Ireland was in the middle of a drought when it never has a drought.

I was really upset when DH proclaimed that Ireland reminded him of New England in August. if you’ve ever seen New England in August, then you’ll understand what he meant. I argued with him and told him he was wrong, but brown is brown no matter what country you’re in.

I believe I need to stop planning vacations. It just doesn’t seem to work out for us. Next summer it will be feet in the kiddie pool on the back deck.

I just realized we never put the deck furniture away for the winter. Chores. They are the bane of my existence.

Speaking of chores, I pretty much got out of all of mine. I hired a house cleaner, use a grocery-delivery service, and DH decided he likes to cook so there is dinner on the table pretty much every night when I get home. Having a husband who works from home certainly has its perks.

That about sums up 2018 for our family. I gotta close this letter as I have presents to wrap, cookies to bake, and…eh. There’s always tomorrow.

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.