Stranger than fiction

That’s my dog and my cat who thinks you can’t see her

I was driving up my street one late afternoon with my daughter in the car. She could easily walk home from school but I pick her up one street over so she doesn’t have to trudge uphill to our house.  I hope she remembers my compassion and generosity when she looks back on her life some day.

Anyway, we were a couple of houses from our own house and I noticed a man walking a dog.  I noticed mainly because the dog looked like my dog, a Bernese Mountain dog.  I said to my daughter, “Hey, that looks like my dog!” and she said after a pause, “Um, Mom.  That’s Dad!”  (Frankly, she sounded kind of judgmental, as if she’s never mistaken her loved one for a total stranger.  Whatevs, man. Fourteen year olds think they know it all.)

And sure enough, I gaped as I drove past the man and the dog and it WAS my husband (of almost 30 years) and it was my dog.

I kind of recognized my dog but I did not recognize my husband.  At all.  I guess I forgot he’s mostly bald and gray.  That’s not how I see him.

*

Today we ran out of toilet paper.  Completely.  We have three bathrooms in our house and when I used the last of the toilet paper in my master bathroom, I checked the closet where I keep the extra rolls.  There were no extra rolls, much to my surprise.  This was shocking because I have toilet paper automatically delivered to my house by Amazon.  It’s the best thing ever.  But my system went awry, somehow.

So I thought I’d check the main (kids’) bathroom upstairs.  Last I knew, I stacked six rolls in there.  Today, there was a ROLL OF PAPER TOWELS sitting on the counter next to the toilet.

I . . . just . . . what?  So I took that away and came back with a box of tissues because we are not barbarians!  Then I checked the downstairs bathroom and . . . well, I already spoiled this story by telling you we completely ran out of toilet paper today.

The weird thing here is twofold:  1)  No one mentioned that we had no toilet paper; and 2) Someone thought a roll of paper towels was a good solution.

Please do not worry about us.  I drove right to Target and bought 48 rolls of toilet paper.

*

I continually buy hairbands.  Because I have ridiculous hair and also, hello, menopause?  So I’m hot.  No, I’m cold . . . wait, now I’m sweaty.  But I’m cold, I mean hot.  So, I constantly put my hair up, then take it down, then put it up, ET CETERA.  All day long.  And occasionally–like right now–I look in my desk drawer and all around my office and find no hairbands.  And I’m hot.  But I have inadvertently transferred all the hairbands to my bedroom and my car.  This would be why I have a pen stuck in my hair, holding it off my neck.

Does this happen to anyone else?

*

Finally, I had a bit of a busy morning today.  I had to take my car to get an oil change and when I came back home, I had a couple of hours and decided to putter.  At some point, I remembered that I wanted to put peanut butter in the mousetraps I put in the garage a awhile back.  I’d found evidence of a mouse and so I bought traps and put them behind the garage couch.  Weeks and weeks had passed, but my traps remained empty.

So I came armed with a knife full of peanut butter and shoved the couch out of the way to access the traps and found . . . two empty traps and one trap with a dead mouse.

I immediately turned squeamish and went upstairs to ask my 18-year old if he’d like to practice “being a man” and he said, “Sure!”and then when I told him why, he pulled a blanket over his head and said, “Oh no!  I thought you wanted me to do taxes or something!”

I ended up fishing the mousetrap from behind the couch with a long metal thing and put it in a trash bag and into the trash.  And then I filled the remaining traps with peanut butter because you never know.  (At least I didn’t use glue traps again.)

Stranger than fiction

Mom’s Search for Meaning

The problem is that I don’t want to let go.

She’s all too eager to move on while I’m clinging to memories.  Remember four years ago when we went whale watching?  Remember when you lost your first tooth?  Remember that pink hat you loved?  Remember when we bought these clothes?  Remember?

She doesn’t want to dwell in the past.  She wants to get her driver’s license and her freedom and long acrylic nails.  She’s 14 and has no patience for my questions or memories.

Nothing like this concerned me when my boys were growing up and growing older.  Maybe because I always had her, my little cohort, the one who was always ready to go to the beach or to the store or anywhere, really.  Now, she just wants a ride to her friend’s house or she wants to stay home and watch Netflix while I go alone.

However, I am no idiot.  It’s absolutely developmentally appropriate that she ventures farther and farther away from me, that she separates from me.

But it’s hard for me.

And last night, her guinea pig–which had become my guinea pig–died.  So not only do I have a giant basket of her cast-off clothes here in my office, ready to be discarded somehow, I also have the empty guinea pig cage, another sign of the times.

*

Last week, I took her to Barnes & Noble to buy a book she wanted. While we waited to pay, I sniffed the candles displayed for sale.  I found one that smelled amazing: gardenia, tuberose and jasmine and thought I would buy it for myself as a belated birthday gift.  But it cost $19.99 and I just couldn’t do it.

When we got home, I emptied the curbside mailbox–I am terrible about remembering to get the mail each day–and found a package from my mom.  She’d mentioned she was sending something for my birthday.

I opened it and unwound the tissue paper from a wrapped item to reveal a metal tin containing a candle . . . a candle scented with the fragrance of gardenia, tuberose, and jasmine.  It was in a metal tin instead of the round glass contained I’d seen at the store, but it was the exact same brand and the exact same scent that I wanted at the bookstore.

This little candle felt like a small miracle, a little reminder of love and family and dreams come true.

*

I just read (for the first time) Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning.  I wish I’d read it before.  If you haven’t read it, you should.

Mom’s Search for Meaning

The day the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded

Here’s a little known fact.  The day the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, I turned 21.  I was attending Bible College in Missouri and had limited access to television and radio, so I had little awareness of the horror of the tragedy and loss of life.  Instead, some random college boy took me to dinner at Red Lobster.

Only in the subsequent years have I become aware of the disaster that happened the same day I turned 21, mainly because on my birthday every year, they play footage of that ill-fated flight.

So, January 28 (today if you’re me, typing this but yesterday if you’re the one reading this) was my birthday.  This year, it also happened to be the Chinese New Year, which I found out when I had a pedicure in a virtually empty nail salon where all the Asian ladies were wearing dressier than usual clothing and speaking excitedly in their native language.  They slid my Birkenstocks back on my feet, rushed me out the door then taped a “CLOSED” sign on the door.

Earlier in the day, I spent an hour going to a pharmacy and picking up a prescription for one of my kids.  As soon as I got home, my husband and I went to lunch at a restaurant that sits on the shore of the Pacific.  From my seat I could watch surfers bobbing on the waves and a couple of wind surfers in the distance.  After a rainy month, not a cloud was in the sky.  And best of all, due to a combination of a half-used gift card, a rewards card and a $10 bonus card, our entire bill for the fancy lunch was $2.70.  Getting a deal is one of the chief delights in my life, so I felt pleased by this turn of events.  (We tipped generously and had to pay for valet parking, just in case you wondered.  We are not barbarians.)

After lunch, I relaxed for a minute, than went to Costco by way of the nail salon.  Costco was busy as it always was, but I found a parking spot by the door because it’s my birthday!  I don’t want to walk a half a mile across the parking lot!  I packed the back of my Fiat 500 with groceries and picked up my son at work.  Upon our return home, I promptly took a nap for an hour.

When I woke, it was time to pick up my daughter.  On the way home, my brother called and we talked about a bunch of people we knew of from way back when.  By the time I got home, I had less than an hour before work at 9 PM.

And now I’m ready for sleep.

By the way, I’d like to note that twice in the last month my husband has said to me, “Maybe you facing ageism,” and I’ve said doubtfully, “Really?” because even though I might seem like a dowdy housewife to you, I am not old!  True, I do like a good nap and I couldn’t care less about wearing uncomfortable shoes even if they are cute and I don’t get the thing about eyebrows, but I like to think I’m au courant.

Though I imagine the fact that the phrase au courant popped into my aging brain means I’m an old fogey after all.

Whatever.

(One of my favorite things to do is to figure out how old I’ll be when my kids are a particular age.  So, when my daughter is my age, I’ll be 93.  Now, there’s a fun fact.)

The day the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded

Becoming Adam Kenworthy

The sight of my face in the  mirror or my hands on the keyboard remind me that I am a fifty-one year old woman.  I forget sometimes, you know?

I feel like myself on the inside and the Myself that I know is the girl who composed songs at the keyboard and marveled at a round October moon that one night at college.  I knew with clarity that I would always remember that specific moment. My truest self is twenty-four on the inside, flexible and spry, curious and smart and young.

But on the outside.  Well, the outside of me is graying and a little achy.  I have eyelids that make me rethink my judgmental stance on the vanity of plastic surgery.

On one (age-spotted) hand, I’m cool with getting older.  Naps?  Bring them on.  Reading all afternoon?  Yes, please.  Stepping aside while the young ‘uns take over the world with their newfangled technology and excessive facial piercings?  Whatever.  Bring me some tea.

However, on the other (veiny) hand, just like I once wanted to be Jo (in Little Women), sometimes I wish I could be Adam Kenworthy.

I first saw Adam on The Real Housewives of New York.  (Don’t judge me.)  He was Luann’s chef but then Carole Radziwill (author of What Remains, a beautiful memoir) met him and started to date him (even though he’s quite a bit younger than she) and now I follow him on Instagram.  His Insta-stories especially make me wish I were him.

(It’s quite ludicrous, actually.)

He’s riding a bicycle with a wire basket through New York streets, swerving around taxis, buying organic vegetables from vendors.  He’s running along the Hudson River, giving a personal report on the weather.  He’s creating artistically arranged meals composed entirely of vegetables, highlighting micro-greens that my family wouldn’t eat if you paid them cash.

Basically, Adam Kenworthy is winning at life.  He’s free.  He’s confident.  He’s living in New York City and riding a bicycle with a basket through its taxi-filled streets.  (This is my imaginary version of Adam Kenworthy, of course.  I don’t know him.)

Now, perhaps his interior life is dull.  Maybe he doesn’t read or think or make any sacrifices that benefit other people.  How would I know?

I know I can’t become Adam Kenworthy.

Maybe I can become a surfer or a long-distance bicyclist or a person who mails out her Christmas cards before Valentine’s Day.

A girl can dream.

Becoming Adam Kenworthy

In sickness and in more sickness

My 14-year old daughter has a really terrible cold.  She’s been sick for at least a week now but the past three or four days have been bad, so bad that she wanders downstairs to sit in the recliner in my office, wrapped in a blanket so she can watch television with me (while I work) and complain about how much her back and jaw and pinkie-finger hurt.  She tries to breathe while complaining that her feet are so cold, her face is so hot and she can’t sleep, will never sleep again and actually wants to go to school tomorrow but probably can’t since she can’t breathe.

She left a literal trail of used tissues from here to there plus clumpy piles of used tissues surrounding the recliner.  I haven’t picked them up because I am scared that I might transfer these nasty germs from the tissues to my innards where they will multiply and ruin the rest of January for me.

So instead, my office is littered with used tissues.  Awesome.  Tomorrow I will pick them up.

Since she was a baby, she has refused to take medication, so tonight she refused all my offers and just wallowed in her misery.  Poor thing.

She even WANTS to go to school tomorrow because she hasn’t gone anywhere or done anything or even left the house in three days.  I hope she’ll feel better but I am fully prepared to call the school office and report her absence.

*

In other news, tonight Malibu the Cat stole my fork.

 

 

In sickness and in more sickness

Is it too late to bake Christmas cookies?

Listen.  My Christmas newsletter and cards are sitting on my desk, awaiting envelopes and postage.  My Christmas tree is fully decorated.  I have refrigerated sugar cookie dough in my refrigerator.  All the Christmas decorations (except for the tree ornaments) crowd my kitchen table.

In short, I am lagging behind.

But tonight I cooked dinner and paid the bills and cleaned the kitchen and folded some clean bath towels.  I made my sick 14-year old a cup of tea and she sat in my office with me while I worked and watched a whole television show with me.  (That kind of made me wish she’d be sick more often because I miss having her want to hang out with me.)

So, there’s hope.  Tomorrow my hair stylist is coming over to spruce up my hair before I start work at 2 PM.  I have encouraged my sick daughter to go to school even though she’s sick because she’s missed so much school when she was only mildly sick . . . and the semester is ending and I know if she’s not there it will be so much harder to finish strong.  She’s on Day Six or Seven of a really bad cold and she’s congested and starting to cough. The realist in me assumes she will stay home tomorrow but the irrational optimist thinks maybe she’ll just wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and go to school.  Ha.

Won’t it be nice to be back on a schedule instead of everyone staying up half the night and asking me at the most random times what they can eat as if they have no eyeballs and can’t see into the refrigerator and pantry?

We’ve had rain here, off and on.  We’d been through at least two rainstorms before I remembered to turn off the automatic sprinkler system.  I just can’t remember everything.

(My daughter just came downstairs to use the bathroom and since it’s 1:40 AM, it’s safe to say that she will not be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning.  She said she can’t sleep and I said, “Well, don’t try to sleep.  Just turn off all the lights and listen to some quiet music.”  This is mom-trickery.  I hope it works since she refuses NyQuil or any other medications.)

*

I have a new work schedule:
Sundays:  5 PM to 12 AM Monday through Friday:  2 PM to 5 PM and then 9 PM to midnight
Saturday:  9 PM to midnight

It’ll be an adjustment to get used to these hours.  When you work odd hours, sometimes it’s easy to fritter away extra time.

I have no time for frittering . . . not while there are still Christmas cards to send!  Pray for me.  If you need me, I’ll be eating Christmas cookies and undecorating the tree.  (I hope.)

Is it too late to bake Christmas cookies?

Perspective 

I am going to start blogging more. 

Meanwhile, here’s a photo I took of Oceanside Pier tonight. I wore a light sweater and Birkenstocks and felt amused at the tourists who were easily identifiable by their bikinis and beach chairs. 

Only a tourist would think 68 degrees is warm enough to frolic in frigid winter surf. Meanwhile, locals seize the opportunity to wear knee high leather boots and jackets. 

Of course, in my former hometown, when it hit 68 we ran to the beach as fast as we could to soak up the sun because summer had finally arrived. 

It’s all about perspective. 

Perspective