Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Say Something....I'm Giving Up On You

The Kansas City version of Listen To Your Mother is this Sunday.  It has been a labor of love - months and months in the making.  I have met a dozen new and amazing women - all the gypsy kind of souls I am drawn to.  

I have written many stories in my head but have had no time to get them written here between work, a beautiful new granddaughter and getting this show to the stage.  Please don't give up on me.  After this week this little space won't be so neglected and we will meet here again on a more regular basis.


Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Smell Test

A few weeks before I left my job last year, I had to go to Office Max to get 1099 forms to send out to the contracted providers we had hired the previous year.  As I had a legit excuse to play hooky for a bit, I wandered the aisles looking at pens (oh my GAH the pens!!), notepads and organizers.  It was a dreamy field trip for a Girl Friday who loves organizational tools but wants somebody else to pay for it.  Seeing as how I was sent on a mission by the The Man, however, I eventually stopped pining for what I couldn't have and got my boring tax forms and made my way to the checkout line.

Ahead of me were three businessmen.  I don't know what their business was.  Wait, I take that back.  Their business was to put on a suit and tie and look businessy while bathing in nicotine.  It overpowered the Please Wait Here For The Next Available Cashier line like a nuclear cloud and made me want to gag.  I breathed through my mouth while waiting - one snafu after another at the register that lengthened my time in line.

I didn't know how much more I could take when somebody came and stood behind me in line.  It would get worse.  His body odor was so bad it made the nicotine seem like a dodge through the Perfume Lady Patrol at Macy's in December.

I was the filling in an Oreo cookie of stink.

Maybe that was the final assault in an already fragile work situation because a couple of weeks later I'd be out of that place for good.  I took a lot of baggage out the door with me when I left, including a lasting memory of that stinky line that will not go away.  

One year later it is still tailgating me.

When I get home from work I walk in the front door and take a deep breath.  In the event that something funky has gone down in the village while I've been gone I start flushing it out. Garbage?  Dog pee?  Towels left in the washing machine?  Litter box?  A potato gone bad?  I hunt Smelly down like Elmer Fudd, and if toting a shotgun over my shoulder and ka-blamming the daylights out of it would take care of the problem I'd get one. 

"Don't you smell that?" I always ask Mark.  He shakes his head, sinuses so packed he'd be a case study for any Ear, Nose and Throat doc.

"How can you not smell that??!!  It's so gross," I say, nose to the ground like a bassett hound.  Sniffing, sniffing, sniffing.  "It's in this general vicinity," I tell him waving my hand in a circle and sheesh, why hasn't anybody thought of a radar and a Clorox drone for this kind of thing?  Cleaning supplies at the ready, I rejoice when I find the Culprit of Odor.  "Success, people!! I have saved us once again."

One time Will told me that his friend said our house was the only one she'd ever been in that had cats and didn't smell like it had cats.  "She really said that?  Oh geez, Will, I think that's the nicest thing anybody has ever said about this house.  Really.  Tell her that I said that," I say tearing up while simultaneously patting myself on the back.

The other day Mark and I were at Target looking for floss when it settled over Health & Beauty.  The dreaded Body Odor in the toothpaste aisle, taking me back to that memorable day in Office Max.  "Oh geez, I can't do this" I whisper to Mark.  "It smells so bad.  Tell me you can smell that?" Packed to the gills with pollen he looks at me and says, "It's April.  I got nothing getting through until the first hard freeze in November."

I stand alone in my misery and cannot figure out how these shoppers in Target can go about their business like there isn't the smell of locker room in the toothpaste aisle.  I pull my shirt up to my nose and take a deep whiff.  Is it me?  Negative.  I work in an office.  The only time I sweat during the day is when my boss walks by my desk and sees me on my phone for the thousandth time.

I notice two hipsters are at the other end of the aisle.  It has to be them.  Those hipsters might brush their teeth but they probably don't do boring, conventional stuff like bathing or washing their clothes.  "I see you hipsters," I say telepathically.  "Thinking you're so cool and all feeling the Bern.  Well, here's a bern for you.  You're smelling up my Target."

They don't seem to connect telepathically.  Weirdos.  They mind their own business, get some toothpaste and move on.

I go after them.


Yes.  I follow them to housewares.

I had to find out if they smell so I stalk them until I find some cute, and I mean really cute dishes.  Our dishes are at least twenty years old.  Why don't we ever think about replacing this crap?  Where did Mark go?  I start to go look for him and then remember why I'm there in the first place.

Oh yeah, confronting smelly hipsters.

I trail behind them once again and pretend to look at dishtowels and am surprised by what I discover.  The hipsters do not stink.

It's 8:30.  The store announces that it's closing in thirty minutes.  I go find my husband.  I feel like a failure. I have not rooted out this smell, and doesn't Target know that all the cute housewares and Who What Wear in the world won't save them if they smell bad?  I mull this over on the drive home and realize that in the next emergency (and there will be another because this is a trend) I must first place the oxygen mask securely over my own nose and mouth before worrying about that of another. 

My husband is a lucky man.  He can't smell a thing.  I'm a proud woman.  My house doesn't smell like cats. 

At the end of another smelly spin around the sun the only people we can save is ourselves. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Oh Craig

Since the beginning of the year I have purchased a couch off Craigslist and sold a dresser and a chaise lounge on it.

I think we can all agree that this makes me an expert and, as such, I can give advice.

For the buyer.......

Tip #1:  It would be best to leave your husband out of these dealings, but unfortunately he has upper body strength that you lack and so he must be a part of this. 

He will bitch about it every step of the way.  He will say, "Why can't we just go buy a new couch?  Why can't we go in a store, pick one out and HAVE THEM DELIVER IT?  This makes sense for a few minutes but then you will snap back to reality and say, "No no no.  I have spent months hunting couches from Craig and I cannot let you stop me from flushing this one out." You will make him come along to look at it which adds to the excitement.  Will these people be open carry kind of sellers or pocket knife stabby sellers?  You say to tag-along spouse, "You have to admit you can't buy this kind of adrenaline rush at Ikea."  He will not answer for fear of exploding.

Tip #2:  When he says you probably should pass because the legs don't screw off IGNORE HIM.  This is one of those man fixations.  He will keep talking about THE LEGS SCREWING OFF until you're pretty sure the needle is stuck in his head and needs a good whap.  '"Enough with the legs," you will say to him.  "Why do the ding dang legs need to come off anyways?"  Sheesh.

Tip #3:  Go to Home Depot to rent a truck by the hour because THE LEGS DON'T SCREW OFF and so the couch won't fit in the back of your baby SUV like you had planned.

Tip #4:  Carry your insurance card like you're told to do all the times or Home Depot won't rent you the truck you need because THE LEGS DON'T SCREW OFF.  Go home to get it and say to peeved husband who needs to go to work even though it's a Saturday and you think that's just wrong, "But isn't this great that we get to spend even more time together?" Ignore the veins popping out of his peeved head and offer him a granola bar.

Tip #5:  Use the full force of your ass to shove your new/used couch through the front door because THE LEGS DON'T SCREW OFF.

Tip #6:  If the color is slightly more purpley than gray once you get it in the house be sure to say to the husband, "I don't know.  Maybe this wasn't such a great idea."  And after he gives you a seething look thank your lucky stars that THE LEGS DON'T SCREW OFF or you'd be sporting one up the full force of your ass.

Now for the fun part.  The selling.....

Tip #1:  Write a gushing post about the MANY qualities of this piece of furniture even though it's like an albatross around your neck and if you don't get rid of it soon you will haul it down to your neighbor's grill and set it there after he's gone in the house with the burgers and run away.

Tip #2: Always say it's in perfect condition even if it isn't.  This is called bait and bait.

Tip #3:  Check your email every five minutes for days.  When there are no takers completely give up on your life.

Tip #4:  When someone finally does show some interest tell them a good story about listed piece. Respond that it is BREAKING YOUR HEART to sell this but one of the kids moved back home and there's no room for it.  None of this needs to be factually correct.  You are selling them something not marrying them.

Tip #5:  Agree on a time and date for the buyer to look at the furniture.  Decide then that maybe you should take a looky loo at this thing that you're selling.  Find out that "perfect condition" may have been overstated.  Too late.  It's already in cyberspace with all the naked pictures.

Tip #6:  Haul piece up the basement stairs - you pulling and husband pushing.  Bitch endlessly about your shoulder to elicit sympathy from husband.  Find out husband is so over you.

Tip #7:  Notice tiny white spots on piece.  Is that paint splatters?  WTF?  Pick every one off.  Use black sharpie to fill in scratches on brown wood because it's close enough where you come from. Threaten to beat the cat who keeps jumping his hairy self onto your anally vacuumed winning lotto ticket.

Tip #8:  Decide to take it out on the driveway for buyer to see since it's such a nice afternoon. Husband says, "Hey, let's use that 2' cart thingamajig in the basement."  Fall back in love with husband because he's finally on board with your life's destiny.  Balance 7' piece of teetering furniture on 2' of cart and roll out the front door and down three steps.  What could go wrong?

Tip #9: Examine everything that went wrong.  Entire bottom scratched from cramming out the front door and a small tear in the upholstery.  Curse like a sailor in the driveway.  Chuckle when neighbor says, "Having trouble over there?"  Ask husband why neighbors can't mind their own beeswax.  Husband says, "You never do.  Why should they?" Go in the house and get a bigger sharpie, needle and thread.

Tip #10:  Greet would-be buyers like long lost favorite cousin.  Get weepy talking about THE ALBATROSS and tell them how you sure liked to curl up on it and read a book with a hot cup of tea and some chocolate chip cookies. This is called romanticizing the object which is better than saying that it's been in the basement for two years with an endless pile of crap and a cat on it.

Tip #11:  Give buyer husband the stinkeye when he goes right to the tear that you just mended.  Say nothing.  Keep your trap shut for once in your life.

Tip #12: Close the deal  Pocket the money, shove ALBATROSS in their pickup truck, tell 'em you hope they love it as much as you did, wave a friendly goodbye, go in the house.

Tip #13:  Lock the damn door.

After all, it is Craigslist.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Dear Mae

You are not even here, Little One, and already everybody is so excited to meet you.  It will be a long time before you understand how special that is - to fall in love with someone you have yet to see or hold.

In the years ahead (when you are a teenager and God forbid not sooner) you will one day fall in love with a boy.  You should know, Mae, that this will sicken your parents.  When he looks at you with his lusty, hormonal, teenage boyness and a starter mustache, your Mom and Dad will want to gouge his eyes out.  This boy will consume their every thought.  One night before drifting off to sleep, your mother will casually say to your father, "And that kid's stupid, little mustache?  He looks like a porn star." Then she will dream of a boy in your life like Justin Timberlake - the kind of guy who brings his mother to the Grammys.  Your father will stay up all night binge-watching How To Get Away With Murder.  When your grandfather (who roofed his way through graduate school with some very shady characters) meets this boy, he will pull your father aside and say, "I still know people."

You will enlist your grandma's help in turning the family tide in your favor and she will try to be on your side.  After all, she still vividly remembers that dating stint of your mother's with the Republican that nearly did her in.  But whenever this boy's name comes up her throat tightens like a vise and so she will do what she always does in these situations.  She will google her symptoms.  She can no longer help you, Mae.  Dr. Google thinks your grandma is deathly ill.  Now she needs to quickly assemble a team of experts at MAYO Clinic while there's still a prayer of being cured.  And if that's not possible, (due to a ridiculously high deductible) she will need to go to Target one more time for ibuprofen, toilet paper, throw pillows and the perfect red lipstick.

One day, Starter Mustache Boy will make a grave mistake.  He will walk into your parents house, look at your Dad and say, "Dude, what's happening?" And "dude" will hang as heavy in the air as humidity in July. Mae, even you will know then that you have been in love with a moron, and that's okay so long as you don't stay with the moron.

After time and college and trial and error, the right one will come along.  He will not be perfect but he will feel like home to you and you will not want to let him slip away.  Maybe the two of you will decide that the home you've built needs a baby in it as well. 

That's when you will finally know what it was like for your own mom - to be so in love with someone she has yet to see or hold.  That, dear Mae, is called hope and it will be tangled up in everything you know for the rest of your life.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Last Dance

This week is Mallie Bee's senior recital.  After four years of college dancing to other people's choreography, this time it will be her turn.  I am a mess of emotions.  I can't believe that the last of our kids is nearly done with college.  I can't believe that fifteen years of watching her dance is coming to a close, and while I would never want my wants to collide with her needs, it is clear that her choices will not be likely keep her close by.

An introvert by nature, her heart explodes in dance and we have been lucky enough to witness it from the beginning.  There is so much excitement with all of us for this night and I spent part of my Sunday doing a Facebook invite to every person I know who I think might be remotely interested in my kid's recital.  They have responded in spades.  Who are we that so many people will go out on a Wednesday night to share our joy?

I work at the college that Mal attends and our paths never cross. Today, however, I overheard a student in our office talking about the show she's going to be in on Wednesday.  "You have to come," she said to another student.  "We've all been working on it for a long time and it's going to be fantastic."

I wondered if it was the same show that Mal was going to be in but it is a big school and there are likely many things going on that night.  But the guy she was talking to said her name and I recognized it and came out of my cube to introduce myself.

"Mallory's mom?  You're Mallory's mom?"


"Do you have any idea what kind of human being you raised?  I don't know anyone else like her.  She's the kindest person I know.  Really.  She is kind to everybody."

Which was funny because just the night before Mal was talking about people who are nice when it's convenient and easy for them and makes them look good instead of as a trait that they aspire and work toward on a regular basis.

Every year after the recital we take a picture.  Maggie (the documenter of our family) insists on it.  I am grateful that she does and that we have these memories.  I am also grateful that, as hard and expensive as it was for us to pay for it, that we have had the chance to educate our kids in order for them to pursue what they love.

But mostly I am grateful that when they go about pursuing those passions they remember that being kind is a daily sort of thing.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

We're All Here

It might be a little early to trash talk 2016, but so far it has been out to give us a run for the money.  And by "run for the money" I mean we need to RUN for some money.

To date....

*We have had a repairman out three times for the furnace

*Had fraudulent charges on our credit card

*Broke a crown eating a granola bar

*Temporary on said crown fell off after a week.  Returned to dentist to get sealed on again.  Resealed temporary lasted two days

*Downstairs toilet tank decided to stopped filling with water

*Husband gets put on committee at work to discuss pay cuts for entire department

*Looming tax bill

It's been a little hard to keep a perky attitude when every time we turn around there are fistfuls of money flying out the door.

When talking complaining to the very pregnant Maggie carrying the newest addition to the family, she said, "Mom, we're all here and we're all fine, right?  Isn't that what you always say?  That as long as that's true everything else will be okay."

From the mouths of babies carrying babies comes a precious little pearl.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Keep Your Rope Taut

My mom doesn't like water.  As a kid I have no memory of her getting into a pool or lake with us.  Sweating and miserable in the blistering heat of her least favorite season, she would sit on the edge of the neighbor's pool and put no more than her feet in to cool off.  Her showers are legendary in their briefness. "I only let the water splash my face," she says as if we all wanted tips on ways to make a shower last no longer than five minutes.

What is also legendary about her aquatic history is how she got up on water skis the very first time, went around the circumference of a lake and never fell in.

Whenever the story comes up we are all amazed.  "Mom, do you have any idea how hard it is to get up on skis the first time?  It's almost impossible," we always tell her.

"What can I say," she says as nonchalantly as what Esther Williams might have said about synchronizing her way around a pool with a fruit bowl on her head.  "I didn't know how to swim.  I wasn't about to fall into that lake."


In the throes of a nasty political season that has a year to go, and the waning days of The Dismal Season, it seems like everyone I know is either depressed, tired, frustrated, sick, or utterly bored.  Even the Super Bowl isn't generating much enthusiasm. 

Coldplay?  Okay, I guess...... but then what?

Valentine's Day?  The new year awkwardly lurches from dismal to rosy disappointment, and without more than a dusting of snow around here there isn't even a blanket to cover up the gray.  Bare trees, bare, grass, bare gardens.  If it were possible to buy my way out of this grayness I would but that requires effort and that's as well hidden as the sun. 

What would I buy anyhow? 

I bought some fabric.  2.5 yards which is probably 1.5 more than I need but I didn't want to be short and have to go out in the cold again.  I'm going to recover the seat of the wicker bench that's on the back porch.  It will be navy this year and I may sew some new pillows.  Lots of color is about to go out there.  Vibrant, in-your-face color.  Our dinners will be on the little bistro set and when it gets dark I'll turn on the garden lights tucked into the eaves.  The crab sign will remind us of Maryland and Mark and I will talk for the thousandth time about The Crab Shack - the hole in the wall restaurant we could walk to from our townhouse.  We will pine for brown paper tablecloths, little mallets and salty air. 

Until then my twelve dollar purchase and a new project is the reward for keeping my rope taut for awhile longer.   I don't know how to swim in the waning days of winter and I don't care to learn.  

And falling in isn't an option.