Monday, May 30, 2022

1003. Who Invited You

I blame myself. Normally, I am quite organized, some might say obsessively so. I have calendars, to-do lists, color-coded receipts, and even notes like “Tell Short to talk to History teacher.” My reminders have morphed beyond the immediate boundaries of myself and are now about helping other people as well.   

So you can see how it was bound to happen. 

We showed up on time, 7pm sharp, as if it was a flight to Chicago that might leave without us. There were a lot of people there already, they seemed like a surprisingly punctual group, but who could blame them? They were all graduating and couldn’t wait to get on with their fresh, shiny lives, or at least have a good party to look back on. They were laughing and playing badminton and singing made-up songs and tossing bean bag things in the corn hole and sitting around a firepit joking: they looked like an ad for happiness or a very expensive toothpaste.  

The Husband and I found model-perfect Laney right away and handed her the card. I had neatly wrapped the pristine, white envelope with a smooth, satin ribbon, indicating that it was more than a card. Yes there was money inside. I didn’t hug Laney when I gave it to her, because truth be told, I didn't know her that well, so instead I said, Here’s another card for LeRoy too and by the way, where is your mom? 

Laney pointed toward the house, and The Husband and I dutifully walked in. 

We thought we were walking into the family room, but we were actually walking into a design magazine, complete with chandeliers and red refrigerators and avant-garde art and rustic beams. It was all very chic and made me say dumb things like, Where did you get that tile??

I gave Nikki a tight squeeze and told her the house was gorgeous, which she already knew. It was like saying, Hey and we all breathe air! Isn’t that fascinating! 

Still, she seemed proud of her home and flattered that I mentioned how great everything was. She never once said, MOV, this is a party is for my son and his twin sister and THEIR friends, no parents were actually invited, so honestly what the hell are you doing here? 

No, those words were never uttered. Instead, she and her husband said things like, Would you mind taking this platter of watermelon and putting it on the deck?

I did all the right things. I put the watermelon on the deck. I congratulated Nikki on Laney getting into Yale on a golf scholarship. I asked if LeRoy was excited about going to Tech. 

I should have maybe clued in when they didn’t offer me any wine. BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T HAVE ANY. BECAUSE IT WAS A PARTY FOR TEENAGERS.

I saw a big basket of kooky glasses that the plastic frames spell out “2022.” I went to try on a pair and The Husband helpfully mentioned that they might actually be for the kids. 

I sashayed around the party holding the basket like a prize and forcing the kids to all take a pair of glasses. When I got to my own son, Tall, he hissed through clenched teeth, Stop it. 

As I went to set the basket down, The Husband tugged my elbow. He leaned in and whispered, Time to go. 

I can honestly say that this was the first time I truly, truly, truly looked around and noticed not that we were early or hyper-competitively extremely on time or that other parents were just not there yet or maybe running late … instead, I realized to my horror, there were 50 people in that backyard and none of them were over the age of 19. 

This was a graduation party. For graduates. We were not invited.

I started to do the mental gymnastics of analyzing all the evites in my brain … we have Susan’s son’s graduation party coming up on Saturday, and then Rodrigo on Sunday afternoon, and then Evan and Tyler’s brunch on Tuesday, and Nick and Davis on Thursday … and I never actually saw the evite of Laney and LeRoy anywhere in the cobwebby crevices of my brain because oh yes there WAS an evite, but it was addressed to Tall, not to me. 

How could I be so stupid? 

We said a rushed-and-slightly-embarrassed goodbye to our hosts and made up something about how our dog was really sick and we had to check on him, blah blah blah. We slipped out the front door, and I stopped and took a deep breath. I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry or if this was (hopefully) just a very bad dream. 

The Husband turned to me and said the only thing he could under the circumstances,

“So, whose party should we ruin next?”

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

1002. It's a Dog Dog Dog World

I have always been a cat person.  I love fluffy cats, short-haired cats, black cats, orange cats, calico cats, tiny kittens, overweight cats, you name it.  So it should come as somewhat of a surprise that my latest job is:

Dog Walker.  

I like to tell people that this is because no one will pay me to walk their cats (that's right, cats are smart enough to walk themselves). 

Paint the scene:  I found myself in a job situation with a co-worker that I could no longer tolerate.  She truly made every day miserable, and I knew things were bad when I would secretly hope she would call in sick, go on a vacation, or just flat-out die. 

Yep, I needed to quit. 

I endured three long years there, while things continued to get worse.  I would come home from working with this awful co-worker, and every day my family would say Find another job!  

I randomly saw a sign near our house that said the three little words I needed to hear: 


I applied, passed the background check, and now people I have never met happily give me their keys to go into their home while they are gone and take their most valued possession (their dog). 

I am terrified of Pit Bulls.  Did I mention that?  Why yes I did, right there on the job application.  I said I would walk any type of dog (especially a cat) but staunchly refused to walk a Pit Bull. 

You know where this is going, right?  The very first dog they assigned me was a Pit Bull.  It (he? she? who knows, as I have tried to block it out) bit me on the ankle the moment it saw me. 

Somehow I lived through the ordeal, and continued to walk dogs.  Now we will briefly pause so that I can show you pictures of dogs I may have walked, or you can just think I got these photos off the internet: 

Oh my goodness, is that a cute dog or what?

Another favorite. 

Be still my heart.  Look at those eyes! 

Oh how I adore you, you gorgeous thing!  (And what a smart owner to color coordinate with the yummy orange leash to really set off those spots.)

Reasons why I love my job:  The dogs never complain.  They never say, You are 5 minutes late, again, MOV!  They never criticize my choice of outfit.  Or the fact that I didn't brush my hair.  They genuinely seem happy to see me, and sad when I leave (which is more than I can say for my teenagers).  They usually do what I say (Sit!  Shake! Let's cross the street here now!), and if the worst part of the job is picking up poop, well, what job doesn't have some metaphorical poop you have to deal with? 

Sometimes the owners are home.  This always shocks me.  I feel like I am breaking and entering and they might call the police at any moment.  That never happens.  Instead they mumble something about how they forgot that I was coming, but sure please take Scout for a walk. 

Scout and I go. 

We feel the fresh air.  We squint into the sunlight.  We notice that squirrel dart up that tree trunk.  We hear the birds chirp, sometimes at us.  We smell the freshly cut grass.  We smile at other people walking by, and we stop and chat when those people have dogs too.   

But mostly we walk.

I LOVE MY JOB.       


Friday, June 28, 2019

1001. It's Just A Sunflower

Yep.  I’m back.  It’s really me.  Had to think about it for five years, but then I decided to write something.  Here goes:  

The Husband has always planted vegetables:  corn, squash, 
zucchini (is that the same as squash, or just sort of a distant 
cousin? Who knows), pumpkins, lettuce, tomatoes.  
His garden is green and leafy and full of nutritious things; 
it makes my friends swoon with jealousy (“MOV, did you 
personally grow all that?” Me, without hesitation:  “Yes.”)  

So it should some as somewhat of a surprise when 
The Husband one day woke up and told me:  
“This year, I’m planting sunflowers.”  

Naturally, I was thrilled.  Sunflowers are one of my favorite 
kinds of flowers, next to tulips.  They are big and bold, and
 basically look like if children’s laughter was made of flowers.  
Yep, I love them.  

Now, in the five years I have not been writing my blog 
(and who knows, the next post might take me five more 
years to compose, so don’t get your hopes up), I have 
gotten into photography.  Not Ansel Adams or 
Irving Penn-level photography, but (ahem) I have won … 
let me just say … I have won EVERY SINGLE 
PHOTOGRAPHY CONTEST that I have entered.  

That sounds impressive, doesn’t it?

So anyway, like I was saying, I like to take pictures.  

Pictures of my kids, pictures of the beach if we go on 
vacation, pictures of the dog (we got a dog in the past 
five years- who knew I was a dog person?!? Oh and 
now I have a part-time job as a dog-walker, so I guess 
I need to get you up to speed on a couple things 
sometime soon.)  

Standard deviation:  here is a pic of the dog:  

(Cute, right?  He only weighs about 105 pounds- 
same as me, I like to say.)

Enough rambling, MOV!  Get to the point of the 
story already!  Gah, writing is harder than I thought, 
and I guess I am really rusty.  

So.  The Husband. The sunflowers.  The newfound 
interest in photography.  (Maybe you know where 
this is going because I sure don’t?)  One morning I 
innocently glance out the window and notice that 
the light is what can only be described as magical.  
I have to grab my camera RIGHT NOW THIS SECOND.  

I walk outside in my jammies and approach the sunflowers.  
They are easily three feet taller than I am 
(hard to believe, as I am somewhat tallish in real life, 
but they dwarf me).  I hold my good camera  
(as opposed to my phone camera) to my eyeball 
and start clicking away.  

Unfortunately, due to the inconsiderate shade of a 
nearby tree, the sunflowers are turned the wrong 
way and do not look good in my pictures.  Instead 
of being sunny, they are dark.  They stubbornly do 
not respond to coaxing or bribery like my sons 
(“Please please look this way!  If you just cooperate 
for two pictures, I promise I will take you to the pool 
later and we can get ice-cream!”).  Nope.  
They stay firmly in place (think rooted).  

I take matters into my own hands.  I walk over and 
gently try to adjust the flower.  I attempt to turn the 
stalk where I need it to be.  

No sooner do I touch it, then it snaps off in my hand.  
The Husband will not be happy later, I already know.  

Not having learned my lesson (gah!  The cliches. 
Writing really is harder than I remember), I gently 
bend another flower to get it into the acceptable 
photographic range. 


Did I mention his garden only has about three 
sunflowers at this early date?  

I have destroyed ⅔ of his bounty.  

Unfazed (probably due to all that flight attendant 
emergency training of what to do in a crisis situation), 
I prop the now-dead sunflowers into the general area 
of where I need them to be for my picture.  Perfect.  
Then I start snapping away.  

I check my camera, and I am satisfied.  

Now I take the remnants of the sunflowers and 
internally debate my choices.  Leave them 
propped up and pretend to be shocked when they 
“suddenly” wilt in the next day or two, ultimatley 
saying “a fox must have chewed through them”?  
Throw them over the fence into the neighbor’s 
yard and blame it on a “strong gust of wind”?  
In the end, I (stupidly) decide that honesty is the 
best policy (more cliches.  And spellcheck does 
not even know to add and accent to cliche.  
I’m sorry). I cut the flowers down even more 
and stick them in a vase.  

Predictably, The Husband was not pleased upon 
his arrival home (“MOV, those are MY flowers!!! 
What gives you the right to cut them!!! I can’t 
believe you did this!!!”).  

By the next day (who am I kidding, month), he 
forgot all about my selfish ways, and yes, I got a 
pretty good photo out of the deal:  

(Thank you for being here, and I will try to write again 
if I have anything remotely entertaining to say.)  

Ps- first blog back, I had major formatting issues, so if 
anyone has advice on that let me know

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

1000. Dolphin in a Wheelchair and Other Disturbing Things

There are some phrases you never hear uttered, such as, “That chocolate was disgusting,” “I would totally vote for Nixon if he were alive,” and “Hooker with morals.” 

No one says these things, because they are unacceptable to say.  They are lies.  We all know there is no such thing as “disgusting” chocolate.  Heck, even stale and melty M and M’s are better than no M and M’s. 

Another thing you never hear about is when someone who used to love to write suddenly (or maybe not so suddenly) just stops.  STOPS.



What?  Did Hemingway stop writing? Did Shakespeare stop writing?  Did John Grisham one day just stop writing??

No, of course not.  They had something to say, and an audience who wanted to hear it. 

As a blogger and eventually book writer, I also had something to say.  More than something.  I had a LOT to say. 

But guess what?  After 1000 posts (that’s right, count ‘em), I think I have said it all.  And not only that, I am a little bit sick of hearing my own voice.  So, Blog, I am divorcing you.    

It’s been a fun ride.  I remember when I started and had zero followers.  And then two.  And then, unbelievably, 10.  Then somehow, 100.  And now, over 600!  In just five years. 

For someone who considers herself shy in real life, this is a huge accomplishment for me.  People wanted to read what I wrote! 

Somehow, I cobbled it into a book.  And then with help from a fellow blogger, we made a second book.  The insecure me I was when I was 11 might not believe that.  But it’s true. 

I thank you, dear readers, for reading what I wrote, and for commenting.  (I was a bit obsessive, sometimes checking my comments every 15 minutes, sometimes less).  I thank you for making me feel like what I wrote mattered.  And for taking the time to come back and read just one more essay, one more paragraph, one more story.  I was writing for you.

But lately, the busy-ness of life intrudes.  The laundry.  The job.  The carpool.  There are never enough unoccupied minutes to build a pyramid of words.  Discarded words lay littered across the floor of my study, mocking me (“MOV, you’ll wish you had us back!  Mark my, uh… words!”).      

Now I must bid you and this lovely blog adieu.  It pains me, because I know as soon as I sign off, Muse will return with buckets full of ideas for me (“Muse, honestly, where have you been for six months?!”). 

I never thought I would utter this phrase:  Goodbye, Blog. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

994. Help, I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up

I recently wrote about my face not cooperating with my brain and now my feet are apparently in on the mutiny:  yesterday I fell while walking.

Notice I don’t say “while skateboarding” or “while bungee jumping” or some equally glamourous or athletic endeavor.  Nope.  Walking. 

Let me set the complicated scene.  Daytime.  My front yard.  Walking at a normal pace (not running) toward my car parked out front.  Accompanied by my kids (because let’s face it:  there are always witnesses to help record life’s embarrassments and retell them in excruciating detail after the fact).  I made the critical mistake of stepping off the curb when suddenly my rebellious left ankle chose this precise moment to go out. 

I came toppling down (with a surprised, squeaky sort of grunt sound effect emanating from my nose and mouth, young witnesses later confirmed) and landed face down in a heap in the street, keys and purse strewn about the asphalt. 

I felt like I’d been pushed, or at least tripped. 

This is when my life switched into slow motion, like some sort of Matrix movie.  I lay there in a crumpled up pile for what seemed like 10 minutes (but was probably 10 seconds) evaluating what had just occurred.  Who was my assailant?  Had Tall played a cruel joke on his middle-aged mother and given me a well-timed shove?  Had Short picked up the sidewalk and shook it fiercely, like a blanket?  Had a rare earthquake just announced its presence?       

No.  My feet just did not get the memo to perform a complicated maneuver (e.g. “walk”) and therefore I fell. 

The fall was not without repercussions.  Skin was scraped.  Ego was bruised.  Blood was involved. 

The children (who are used to falling off their bikes and such) were immediately sympathetic and helpful:  “Mom!  Are you okay?”  “Do you need help?”

I pushed myself up and for the first time noticed my elderly neighbor Harriet staring at me from her front yard across the street.  Harriet is about 99 years old and has a live-in nurse. 

I did not want to alarm Harriet, so I waved and called out:  I’m all right! 

She waved back from her walker and responded, “Don’t worry, dear, that happens to me all the time.” 

I dusted myself off, got in the car with the kids and drove away, praying Harriet would not post a video of my fall on YouTube later.      


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

986. If I Get Your Name Sorta Right, It Should Still Count

For some strange reason, I was not blessed with the DNA coding to remember people’s names correctly.  Fortunately, I can remember that I do know the person, and that we had a long chat about where their daughter is going to college or about how their cat might have to have surgery, but then the part about their actual name?  Not so much. 
Sharon?  I want to call her Karen. 
Winnie?  Let’s make that Wendy. 
Brad?  How about Bob. 
JoAnna?  I’ll change that to Jessica. 
I should get points though, right?  Partial credit?  It means I was paying a tiny bit of attention at some point, but maybe not all the way. 
The Husband (big surprise here) does not quite agree with me. 
“If you know you forgot their name, why don’t you avoid it all together?  Because if you get the name wrong, it’s not like in math class where you get some points for showing your work.  You lose points.  It is better to not say a name at all and then you stay at zero points instead of negative.”
Zero points?  Who wants to stay at zero points?!? I want the possibility to earn points!  
I call the kids in for their opinions. 
“Grande, Little, Mommy wants to ask you something.”
“It’s Tall and Short, Mom.” 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

984. Floppy Beach Hat

I bought a floppy beach hat today.  It is 22 degrees out.
My purchase is partially wishful thinking that the weather will tropicate overnight. 
But even if it did—what then?  I am not a floppy beach hat girl.  I wish I was.  I so want to be her.  I imagine myself languorously drifting into the local market, embellished with the floppy beach hat. 
People I don’t know would whisper about me behind my back:  “She is wearing a floppy beach hat.  Therefore, her life must be perfect in that casual not-trying-too-hard kind of way.” 
I want people to think I am not trying too hard. 
But I am actually trying really hard. 
I own a black coat with a fake fur collar.  For floppy beach hat girl.  I also have a pair of 5-inch stilettos acquired on trip to New Zealand two decades ago. 
I have worn the shoes exactly once.    
Floppy beach hat girl would wear those shoes to go see the dentist. 
You know she would. 
Floppy beach hat girl is fearless.  She wears what she wants, when she wants.  She doesn’t agonize before leaving the house if she is dressed appropriately and then ultimately put on jeans and a Target t-shirt (again) just so she can look like a suburban soccer mom.  No.  Floppy beach hat girl will wear bracelets made of rubber bands (bestowed upon her by her 7-year-old) with an evening gown to go to her husband’s work party.  She dresses for herself, not caring what others think one way or another. 
I take a cue from floppy beach hat girl.  I put on black corduroy pants, a pink sweater, and a crazy wood necklace shaped like arrows that I bought at a second-hand store in LA.  I lace up chunky leather boots.  I look in the mirror and smile. 
As we are about to leave, my snarky 4th grader groans, “You’re not wearing that, are you, Mom?” 
I zip back to my closet and change.  Jeans and a sweatshirt.  No necklace.       
Floppy beach hat girl will have to wait another day.