Friday, February 27, 2009


Liv came down for breakfast and I told her her hair looked pretty (because it totally did - it amazes me almost daily that I managed to spawn two children with good hair). She responded by putting two curled fingers on either side of her head and saying, "Foxy". A la Wayne's World. (party time! excellent!) I laughed out loud. She said the humor I found in it was disproportionate to the humor she had intended by her simple gesture. (Okay, she really didn't say that. But it was conveyed. In a glance. You're gonna have to trust me on this one.) I told her that I'd just never expected my child who was born in 1997 to be referencing a movie that was made in 1992 referencing a song from 1967.

But wait, there's more:

We sat down to breakfast. Pancakes. I asked if she was going to have more, as I started to clear the table. She told me to go ahead and clear them. I said, "Well, if you change your mind..." and before I could indicate where I was putting them she chimed in, "I'll be first in line..." laughing and in unison we continued, "baby I'm still free...take a chance on me..." Anyone who knows either of us knows that by this point we were dancing in the kitchen as we cleared up our breakfast dishes, "if you need me, let me know, and I'll be around...if you've got no place to go, if you're feeling down..."

Our kids are destined (doomed) to be the pop-culture geeks that we are. I guess there are worse things they could do. And if - in your head - you felt a compulsion to finish that line with: "than go with a boy, or two" - then I think you know you're okay in my book.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Best Friends Forever

My daughter is always coming home and talking about a new BFF. Most of the time we're hearing the name for the first time when she refers to them as her BFF. It's one of those terms that doesn't mean anything any more. She uses it to refer to acquaintances who she likes. There's nothing wrong with that. At her age, who knows who will pass the test of time that last "F" requires? My BFF's were my acquaintances once. Tom gets annoyed with the whole concept because he says that the "Best" part implies that there is only one - one who is better than all the rest. I suppose from a strictly semantic point of view, he is correct, but I'm gonna have to go with my daughter on this one.

Different situations call for different "bests". None superior to the others, just different. All vital.

This Christmas I received a very unexpected gift in the mail and it was simply inscribed: B.F.F. This made me smile from ear to ear, because it struck me as so true and real. Three simple little letters, thrown about liberally and casually by every teen and tween girl in the nation, but here they were - addressing me - from a woman I've called a friend for over 30 years. Now 30 years isn't forever, but it's a heckuva long time. And if someone can put up with your antics for 30 years, they've kind of committed to the long haul.

My BFF's - and I am blessed enough to have a few of them - don't all go back 30+ years. A couple do. I suppose a BFF passes not only the tests of time and distance, but mostly the test presented to us in our marriage vows: for better or worse. We promise - vow - to love our spouse for better or worse, but what makes us stick with our friends through those rough times? Why don't they give up on us when we make poor choices? Why don't they leave us when we're whiny and depressed and unreasonable? Why don't they turn their backs when we become embarrassing and ridiculous? Some of them do. Sometimes they come back. The BFF's come back.

The BFF is that person who you don't need to see or even speak to for days or months or sometimes even years - then when you do get together it's like no time has passed at all. The BFF knows all of your embarrassing secrets - some of them first hand - and that's okay, because they would never use them against you. Which is not to say that they won't, from time to time, tease you mercilessly about them. Because, come on! They're friends, not saints! Unless you're friends with saints. In which case, good on ya, I guess. But I'm not. I'm friends with gorgeous, amazing, utterly fallible folks.

At the risk of being cliche, the BFF laughs with you and cries with you. They love you when you're ugly.

My mother called me last night to tell me that she is losing a BFF. Her friend is dying. Last rites have been administered. My mother is out of town. She is not holding her hand. They talked on the phone. They said good-bye. Neither tried to pretend it was something it was not. They knew they would not speak again in this world. As my mother relayed all of this to me last night I tried to imagine being in either of their positions. The friend who was losing her life and the friend who was losing her friend. I couldn't wrap my brain - my heart - around either. Of course I know I'm mortal. Of course I know my friends are mortal. But forever - doesn't that just mean - to quote the wedding vows again - 'til death do us part? Or does it go on?

I think maybe it goes on.

If any of my BFF's are reading this - and you know who you are - I love you, man.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Why I *Heart* My Kids (Part 1, I Hope!)

Liv is in Art class and two boys are discussing basketball. According to her, they are always discussing basketball. They say to her, "I can't believe you don't know who Michael Jordan is." to which she immediately responds, "I can't believe you don't know who Eddie Van Halen is."

As if that wasn't enough to make a mother proud, she followed it up with, "You cannot have a triumphant video without Edward Van Halen."

I guess she's mine.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Beach Baby

My father was a high school teacher and my mother was a stay at home mom, so when I was growing up the whole family had the whole summer off. How sweet is that? It gets sweeter. Pretty much every summer of my life, growing up, with very few exceptions, we spent three or four weeks in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I have such happy memories of my summers at the beach.

Since retiring, my parents have been going to Myrtle Beach every winter. For a week, then two, then a month, then two, next year they'll be there a full three months. They've always wanted to recreate those family vacations, but my sister and I have kids and there's school and jobs and blah blah blah and it just isn't so easy for us to get away in the middle of the winter.

A couple months ago, my sister told me she and her family were going to drive down in their motor home over President's Day weekend. I expressed jealousy. She said, "come along". I said my kids would die of jealousy. She said, "bring 'em". And I did.

My parents, my mother in particular, were very happy that we'd finally all be together at "our" beach again. I was just happy to see the beach in February. Which is not my favorite. February, that is, not the beach. The beach is totally my favorite.

Myrtle Beach has changed a lot since I was there last (25 years ago or so! Yikes!). I was hard pressed to recognize anything. It was a little bittersweet. In the last 25 years it has become very commercial. By the end of our long weekend I was longing for a meal in a restaurant that was not attached to a gift shop.

Liv Shelby and I going into the Hard Rock

I gave some money to the Hard Rock Cafe. Because I always do. Because I am a sucker. We had an awesome Hard Rock experience, though. I went with my daughters and my niece. We weren't going for a meal, just to spend money and browse. So we got there at 10:00 am when the gift shop was open and the restaurant wasn't. The girl in the gift shop said we were free to poke around. So we did. We had the run of the whole place. We were able to look at all of the memorabilia without feeling like we were interrupting anyone's meal. It was awesome. I touched Joe Perry's guitar. Oh yes I did. And, to the delight of my young charges, I squeeeed right out loud like the squealy fangirl that I am.

Liv and Shelby (with Pink!) in front of the Hard Rock

We also gave some money to the KISS Coffeehouse, because you never know when Gene Simmons is gonna run out of money. I don't want to be the one responsible if they can't afford to indulge Shannon Tweed's next whim. Also, Tom was in the KISS Army, and he was the only one not with us on this trip. It was the obvious place to pick up some overpriced souvenirs for him. Also, it was fun, in a completely silly sort of way.

Liv and Shelby (with Pink again!) in front of the KISS Coffeehouse. Who's a rock star?

Thank goodness for the Gay Dolphin. Now THIS was something I recognized. A landmark from my youth. And it had not changed at all. I swear, I think some of the merchandise may have even been the same stuff that was there then. It was tacky and cheap and a little dirty and ridiculously comforting.

I witnessed every sunrise, only this time I didn't watch them alone. We had a beautiful view right from our condo window, and I enjoyed that, but better than that were the mornings when the kids wanted to go down and watch the sun rise from the beach. It was so awesome to watch the little ones running free on the empty beach and picking up shells while the eldest took the time to be introspective.

Lea, Shelby and Liv for our first beach sunrise

Liv collecting shells

Lea thinking deep thoughts in shallow water

Another reason my mother was so excited about our visit is that it gave us the opportunity to celebrate her birthday with her for the first time in many many years. Her birthday and my aunts birthday fall pretty close together, so they always celebrate at Myrtle Beach. Although our visit was a little early, we got them a cake and had a little surprise celebration in my sisters camper. They were so happy. It made the whole trip worthwhile.

My mom and my aunt - the birthday girls

Elsie (my BIL's mom), my mom, my aunt, Shelby, Lea and Liv - (birthday) party on, dudes!

A big highlight of the trip for me was that I got to spend some real quality one on one time with my mother and with each of my daughters. That's something we don't tend to make enough time for, and it was really quite wonderful.

I think if we can swing it, I'd like to do it again. I think I'd actually like that a lot.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Morning, Sunshine

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy

Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry

Sunshine on the water looks so lovely

Sunshine, almost all the time, makes me high.

If I had a day, that I could give you,
I'd give to you a day just like today.

If I had a song that I could sing for you,
I'd sing a song that made you feel this way.

*Sincere apologies to any of my rocker friends who I have disillusioned by demonstrating my absolute recall of John Denver lyrics. Just wait till I pull out my mad Barry Manilow quoting skillz...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

(Dis)Comfort Food

I went out to dinner with my parents tonight. As many of you know, I am currently on vacation in Myrtle Beach with my daughters, my parents, and my sister's family. It has been going - as well as can be expected under the circumstances. The circumstances are something for another time and another post, I promise I won't keep you hanging, but for right this tired night, I just want to tell you about dinner.

From the time we told our parents we'd be coming to Myrtle Beach, they've been excited about taking us to "the cafeteria". They love "the cafeteria" (sorry about the overuse of the quotes - I'm sure "the cafeteria" has an actual name, but they never use it, so it's skipped right out of my conscious memory...). From the time we told them we were coming, my sister has been saying, "I'm not going to that damn cafeteria". Me? My parents are footing the bill for my condo this week. They were also paying for dinner. And it meant a lot to them. Jeez, it's one meal. Suck it up, Buttercup.

My sister, you see, had made this same trip five years ago, and had gone to "the cafeteria" then. She vowed to never repeat the experience. I thought she was being a little selfish and unreasonable. I repeat: One meal. Suck it up.

Turns out she had a pretty good point. If I come to visit my snowbird parents next year or some other year in the future, I will have a very hard time mustering up enough "suck it up" to get me through another night at "the cafeteria".

First of all, I probably don't have to tell you that my niece and I were the youngest folks there by quite a lot. This is not a familiar situation for me - I am almost ALWAYS the oldest everywhere I go. It felt almost - good. At first.

I probably also don't have to tell you that this whole scenario took place around 4:30 pm.

I probably don't have to tell you what sort of fare was offered up, either. Every comfort food known to man, beginning with a variety of jello salads and ending with a nice array of pies. In the middle there was chicken pot pie and fried chicken and roast beef and liver and meatloaf and mashed potatoes and gravy... you get the idea.

I didn't expect it to be the best food in the world, and it wasn't, but neither was it the worst.

I somehow don't think it was the food that made my sister swear it off.

My parents knew everyone who worked there on a first name basis. However my father, in an effort to indicate to the cashier that he would be paying for four tonight rather than his usual two, sort of hissed and snapped at her to get her attention. That sounds a little uglier than it actually was, but it wasn't exactly pretty.

Then we got to our table. Both my father and my aunt had taken a large handful of straws - way more than would ever be used by the eight people at our table. They explained to me that they do this every time - so they'll always have straws in the car. I cringed a little. Then my aunt opened her pocketbook (I know, I know - but it's such an awesome word. And might actually be applicable here) and dumped in two handfuls of Sweet 'n Low packets. For her morning coffees for the week. At this point I'm trying to disappear under the table. My mom ate dessert first because, to finish the platitude, life is uncertain.

We carried our own trays to the table, but there were servers who kept our glasses full (we had these teeny tiny little itty bitty little teeny tiny little water glasses - like juice glasses - only smaller - glorified shot glasses, actually) and brought us boxes for our leftovers as well as extra flatware and napkins - they were very helpful without being intrusive. (to the best of my knowledge, no flatware or napkins left the premises in any of my family members pockets or pocketbooks - but I won't swear to it...)

When the time came to leave, my father put $2 on the table. The other gentleman who was with us did the same. I reached for my wallet, as did two of the other ladies. My parents insisted that we put them away. That it had been taken car of. $4. For eight not exactly low-maintenance people.

I HOPE I don't have to tell you I snuck some money on the table as I walked out. With my head bowed and my tail between my legs.

I bet if my sister could have seen me at that moment, she would have laughed and laughed...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tam + Tom = A Love Story (For Valentine's Day)

I was single for a very long time.

There are people who love being single – who choose it and embrace it. I envied those people. I was not one of them.

I dated during those years – sometimes seriously, sometimes not so much. I had my heart broken in tiny little ways and in great big epic the-world-can’t-possibly-keep-spinning-with-this-much-sadness-weighing-it-down ways.

As I moved from my 20’s to my 30’s it became more and more difficult to meet people. Going out to bars and clubs wasn’t as fun as it used to be and was starting to smack of desperation. I was doing early intervention, at the time – working with babies with developmental delays or at risk of developing delays. All of my co-workers were female and all of my clients were new parents. Not a great environment in which to meet men. I was going to grad school, but, once again, my major was one traditionally pursued by females. I wasn’t meeting men there, either. My girlfriends were pairing off. I was living with an almost crippling sense of loneliness. And I was starting to collect cats...

I didn't just collect them - I dressed them up and gave them parties...

With a friend’s encouragement, I decided to try a dating service. Even though a friend had encouraged me, I told no one, not even her, when I finally went in, filled out my profile, had my photos taken, taped my video, and wrote a check for a ridiculous sum of money. I hated it. What was I doing there? I didn’t need this! This sort of thing was for losers! Who uses dating services, anyway? Who is that desperate? Well, I was.

And then the calls started coming. Lots of them. Men were coming out of the woodwork wanting to date me. This was crazy! And, for the most part, they were nice, attractive decent men. Not the desperate losers I expected at all. Just folks like me who were having a hard time meeting people through more traditional means.

I read Tom’s profile and let him know I was interested. He called very shortly thereafter and we shared a very long conversation during which I took notes. Yep. I took notes during conversations with potential dates, that’s just how much dating was going on at that time in my life. If I didn’t take notes, I would get them confused. I’d take notes during conversations then study those notes before an actual date. Romantic, no? Tom’s profile had stated that he was involved with environmental issues and enjoyed a lot of outdoor activities. Something like that. Sure do wish I still had those notes so I could confirm… At any rate, there was something that made me suspect he might be a vegetarian. While I could respect that, it wasn’t a time in my life when I was willing to even entertain the notion of giving up steak. So I asked, and – yay! – added to my notes in big caps, “meat eater”. I think I underlined it and drew little arrow thingies to it as we continued to talk.

We decided to meet, and, oh kids, we liked each other right away.

The problem (if you want to call it a problem) was that we were both pretty new to the dating service business and we were both pretty overwhelmed by requests for dates with other people. For people who had been so deeply lonely for so long, this was just an amazing turn of events. Neither of us wanted to get too involved, because we wanted to keep our options open. There were so many new options! But there was a connection which was undeniable.

On one of our first dates – and we both recognize this as a pivotal point in our relationship – he asked if I wanted to stop for a drink. We were driving by a Chi Chi’s at the time and I suggested we stop there. Except I pronounced both Chi’s with a long ‘i’ sound rather than the long ‘e’ sound (which would be the correct pronunciation. The long ‘e’, that is) I did it in reference to a Les Nesman joke from WKRP in Cincinnati - a show which had, at that point, already been off the air for decades. I didn’t have to explain the joke to Tom. He got it right away. It was so obscure, and yet we were on the same page immediately. The heavens opened and the angels sang.

Except we didn’t listen to them – not right away, anyway.

For the next two years, Tom and I developed a deep friendship. Ok, a deep friends-with-benefits-ship. It was so good. But, as I’d said, we both dated other people as well. Every time he met a new girl I would get excited for him. I loved him at this point, but it was a friendly love more than a romantic one. I wanted him to be happy. So every time he met a new girl I’d be happy. For a little while. Then he’d say something that just didn’t sit right with me, or I’d meet her and just not like something about her. I always thought he could do better. This was a far from one-sided endeavor. He was doing the same thing with me – being genuinely happy for me when I got excited about a new guy, then starting to find fault as soon as it looked like it might be getting serious.

Tom and I at Woodstock '94

We had a hard time finding our way to the same page again. Sometimes I’d feel like I wanted to take it to the next level with him, but he wasn’t ready at the time. Sometimes he’d want to take it to the next level with me, but I wasn’t ready. But through it all, we saw each other several times a week and spoke to each other daily. He had truly already become the best friend I’d ever had. The feeling was mutual.

New Years '95

Then one day, after about two years of this, we were smack dab in the middle of what I thought was a me-wanting-him-more-than-he-wanted-me phase, when he said we needed to talk.


That’s almost never good.


He told me that he loved me. I told him I loved him, too. He said, no, I LOVE you. He went on to say that it was practically statistically impossible for every girl he’d dated in the past two years to be a whiny bitch with motives (my words, probably). About the same odds were in play for every guy I’d dated in the past two years being a total jackass. (Actually, the odds of that were probably a little better…) Anyway. He said he thought that neither of us could find a way to actually accept anyone the other was dating because we were in love with each other. He proposed that we give it a shot; that we stop seeing other people and give our relationship a chance. I giggled and said, “Are you asking me to go steady?” I was 32 and he was 30 at the time. He said, “I guess I am”. I accepted.

And neither of us has ever looked back.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

My first true memories date to the year I started kindergarten. Most of them are vague, but a couple are very specific.

I distinctly remember being on the bus when some of the older kids looked out the window and commented on the pretty Lassie dog. I proudly and knowledgably informed them that that particular breed was actually a collie, and Lassie was just the name of the dog on TV, because Lassie was a collie, too. I went on to inform them that there had been several Lassies over the years and some of them had been boys. Then I giggled about all the times Timmy said, “Come here, Lassie! Come here, girl!” And it was really a boy! That is some seriously hi-larious stuff when you’re 5. Get it? He’s really a boy and they call him a girl. In front of EVERYone! Yeah, I know. The older kids on the bus weren’t very impressed, either. But I didn’t quite learn the lesson that no-one likes a know-it-all. Not at that point, anyway.

Another very salient memory from kindergarten occurred one day during nap time. We were half-day students, so we didn’t actually nap, but we did have quiet time after milk and cookies during which we were expected to put our heads on our desks and shut our eyes. On one particular day, my mom had casually relayed a story to me over breakfast. The story involved a boy who, through some sort of shenanigans, put his eye out. She surely meant it as a cautionary tale. I tended to respond pretty well to those, at least when I was that young. Well, this was no exception. She mentioned it casually, but it stayed with me all day, eating away at me. I considered this poor boy and the lifelong consequences he would have to pay for one moment’s curiosity. (I sure do wish I could remember how he’d done it!) When nap time rolled around, I couldn’t relax for thinking about this poor boy. So I started to relay the story to the little girl resting next to me. Not sure how I thought that would help, but I knew I couldn’t keep that disturbing story inside me for another moment. I remember covering one eye to simulate what it must be like to live like that. Forever. It was right about then that the teacher looked at me sternly and reminded me that nap time was quiet time. She didn’t even raise her voice, just reminded me that I was off task. The tears welled up, then, and I couldn’t stop them for anything. Tears for myself for being reprimanded, for sure - I still don’t care very much for that – but tears, also, for that (possibly fictional) little boy from the cautionary tale who would only have one eye to see out of for the rest of forever.

Turns out I didn’t like disappointing my teacher, or anyone in authority, so, for the next couple years or so I became ridiculously compliant.

Once, while watching a magic show at the mall, the magician asked me onstage to help with a trick (illusion, if you prefer…). He told me to hold my breath for a moment. A few seconds later my mother had to interrupt his act to ask him to tell me it was now okay to breathe. I was starting to change color and sway. I was going to hold my breath till I passed out, because I had been told to by someone in authority (clearly I interpreted that term rather loosely).

Another clear memory from kindergarten involved a boy in my class who had mastered the left/right thing that I was having a lot of difficulty with. He mastered everything before everyone else, but I was usually close on his heels. The left/right thing I just couldn’t grasp. He was leaving me in the dust and I was pissed. I clearly remember the teacher – my beloved teacher – my revered authority figure – fawning over him. She even invited him to the front of the class to help her teach the concept. I couldn’t even hear her words – and I certainly couldn’t hear his – through the pounding jealousy that was occupying more than its fair share of space in my brain. I didn’t have cusses in my vocabulary yet, not even unspoken ones, but if I had, the vilest of them would’ve been hurled at this boy. This smugly superior boy who acted like knowing your right from your left was like second nature or something. Jerk. Boogerhead.

One more salient memory from kindergarten: I was a bit of a show-off. I loved attention and the world hadn’t squelched my inhibitions yet. The teacher, as most kindergarten teachers are, was pretty indulgent regarding this trait. So one day, during show and tell time I decided to treat the class to a solo of a song I’d picked up somewhere. The song was “Never on a Sunday”, a song from a movie of the same name about a prostitute. My five year old self sang, most sincerely, that you could kiss me any day but Sunday, as that was my day of rest. This was the mid-60’s, and kiss was a thinly veiled euphemism for – oh, I already told you it was about a prostitute. Perhaps one who was the opposite of Julia Robert’s ‘Pretty Woman’ character and only kissed? No such luck. I like to hope that the teacher was amused, but my mother was mortified. I tried to remember that in later years, as a teacher myself, when kids came into my classroom singing lyrics that were too mature for them to possibly understand with sweet baby-voiced sincerity. Obscenity is in the eyes of the beholder, and all that…

So at five, these lifelong aspects of my personality had already taken a hold: I was a know-it-all who didn’t know when to keep her mouth shut. I had an almost inherent need to please people, particularly those with some degree of authority over me. I was a show-off who didn’t always worry whether or not my actions were going to be appropriate, as long as they’d get me some attention (and wouldn’t get me in trouble). And I was jealous to the point of distraction of people who had more than I did. I was also, to be fair, compassionate towards those who had less. Bleeding-heart levels of compassion, actually.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Liv's No Good Very Bad Day

I am turning the keys over to my youngest daughter, Liv, who is eleven. She had a day she thought was blog-worthy and I offered up my forum for her. Give her some love!

Okay, it started off as a normal day. I got up, ate breakfast,and went to the bus stop. When I got there I start ice skating on the ice, next thing I know, I am lying flat on my back with my butt hurting really badly. So I get up, and realize that I have a social studies test that I forgot to study for. I also realize that I have a spelling bee. Skipping to the bee. I go to the microphone, a smile on my face, my heart pounding like an elephant running. The teacher says,"Your word is erroneous." I try to spell the word. "Ere...on...i...ous." The teacher says,"That is incorrect." Skipping to art class. Mrs.BO Says, "Time to clean up!" So I stand up, and I realize that it feels uncomfortable. So I look down, and I find out that I'm on my period. The odd thing is, we were painting and on the board a sign said,"Avoid bleeding" so I laughed. Then I thought, oh crap, I'm on my period in the middle of class and my pants are soaked through! I try not to cry when telling this to the substitute, but don't succeed. Mom came and picked me up and we went to Don Patron. I felt bad and wanted to show off, so I said, "Obsequious, O-B-S-E-Q-U-I-O-U-S." Then I felt a little better.

Me again. Pretty crappy day for my baby girl, eh? Here are some parts of the story that she left out: While her first round word was 'erroneous', and one equally unlucky gals first round word was 'haughtiness', most of the kids were getting words like 'sausage' and 'murmur'. She totally got a raw deal. Luck of the draw. I know that. She knows that. But it doesn't make it suck any less... As for the 'avoid bleeding' sign in the art room - really - would a day like this be complete without a little irony? How awesome is it that - in the midst of being embarrassed to the point of mortification - my baby girl saw that and laughed? She rocks so hard, I swear. When the nurse called and told me what happened, I knew what needed to be done. Home for a quick change of clothes then off to Don Patron. Liv loves the spinach quesadilla. And of course we finished it off by splitting an order of flan. Because Liv is too young for a margarita, silly. Food is love? Nah. But some alone time with Mom didn't hurt a darn thing. When she spelled 'obsequious' I laughed and asked her what that meant. She informed me, with a huge smile, that it wasn't a definition bee...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Goodness of Fit

Goodness of fit was an idea I was introduced to in graduate school. It was used rather liberally in a course I was taking which dealt with working with children with special needs and their families. To oversimplify the concept, it basically meant that a teacher or parent should match their teaching/parenting styles to the temperament of the child. A casual observer might find some of the methods to be unorthodox, but if they work, then there is a goodness of fit.

Last night I engaged in an interesting conversation with my sister regarding goodness of fit as it pertains to adults in social/work situations. We were considering a new guy at the pizza shop who is intelligent, well-read, well-traveled, and an excellent worker. He is also not universally accepted by some of the regulars who frequent the shop. My sister suggested that this is not due to any flaws in his personality or character, but is more likely due to a lack of fit. Specifically, he does not fit the stereotype of an adult you would expect to find working in a pizza shop. She went on to say that I didn't fit that stereotype, either. (It may be the nicest thing she's ever said to me.) She doesn't fit it, either. But folks respond better to she and I. Could it be because we - as a society - are more comfortable with women - even intelligent, well-read, well-traveled women - in subservient roles than we are with men?

The obvious answer is yes.

I'm reminded of an incident when I was working in yet another pizza shop/bar some years ago. One of the regulars said to me that "if this bar was Cheers, you'd be Diane". I took immediate offense, assuming that he was implying that I was pretentious and annoying. Perhaps I was. Or perhaps he was just pointing out that, once again, there was no goodness of fit.

Isn't that what we're all looking for? A good fit?

Tom and I are a good fit, and for us this means that we have a very happy almost conflict-free home. Well, an almost conflict-free marriage, anyway. What we have works for us. What we have would bore some folks silly. I look at other very happy, long lasting marriages that THRIVE on conflict. Arguments are rampant and both parties would agree that the arguing increases their respect for their partner and they wouldn't want it any other way. I would have a nervous breakdown in a relationship like that, but it works for them. There is a goodness of fit.

We look for it also in our jobs and our living situations. The suburbs are NOT a good fit for me, but I need to make them work for at least a few more years. Shove that square peg into that round hole.

What hoops we jump through, what prices we pay for a pair of jeans that fit! Jeans that fit not only our forms and our curves (or the lack thereof - not a problem of mine personally, but I'm told it exists...) but also our lifestyle and tastes and budget. The jeans I'm wearing now fit only two of those criteria and I'm grateful enough for that!

So finding that goodness of fit is wonderful, but seeking it can be exciting, too. Finding out what doesn't work is sometimes necessary for us to be able to recognize what does work when we find it.

Or when it finds us.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Bad Moms Club

My sister, Wendy, is lucky enough to have in-laws with a vacation home on Goodland Island - just off Marco Island on the Gulf side of Florida. She takes advantage of her luck quite often during the cold wintry months. Last week I was fortunate enough to take advantage of her luck as well. In the midst of a huge storm, our friend, Johnna, and I were scheduled to fly to sunny Florida to spend a few days with Wendy.

We were a little nervous, and rightfully so, that we weren't going to get out of Ohio at all. There had been snow then ice then snow. Schools and businesses were closed. Our county was under a level 2 snow emergency and several surrounding counties were under a level 3. Many flights were being cancelled. Tom said "if the plane will get you to Florida, I'll get you to the airport." That Tom? He's okay. It was no easy feat, but he did indeed get us to the airport.

At 11:15 we left the house to pick up Johnna.

At 12:20 we arrived at the airport (normally a 15 minute trip).

At 1:45 our plane boarded - right on time.

At 4:30 we landed - right on schedule.

The sign, through the car window, says: Welcome to Southwest Florida, a Snow Emergency Free Zone (I made that last part up).

At 5:30 we arrived at our final destination and removed our watches. We were officially living on island time.

Crossing the bridge to Marco Island at sunset.

My favorite part of vacation - particularly (but not exclusively) a beach vacation - is watching the sun rise and enjoying the quiet mornings before anyone else gets up. I'm almost always the only human I'm aware of, but I'm certainly not the only sign of life. As I enjoy my coffee and a nice quiet read, I am accutely aware of various birds, both visually and aurally. Occassionally a small fish jumps and ripples the water. One morning a pair of dolphins swam down the canal that was our back yard. I wish I were a better writer so that I could capture these sunrises with words. I wish I were an artist so that I could capture these sunrises in paint. I wish I were a musician so that I could somehow capture these sunrises in song. But I'm just me. So I'll take my point and shoot pictures and jot down my notes and do my best to capture them in my heart.

Wendy has a boat, as most good islanders do, and she took us out a couple times to isolated beaches. It has been a long time since I've been on a boat! I was so enthralled by the wind in my hair, the sun on my face, the salt on my lips and the dancing diamonds on the water that I would've missed the pair of dolphins coming out of the water right beside us if Wendy and Johnna hadn't pointed them out.

Our trusty captain

Playing in the sand

Of course it WAS a girls island vacation, so it wasn't ALL poetry and sunrises and isolated beaches. When the sun set, it was a party. Yeah, it was a girls party, but a fellow by the name of Don Patron was in full attendance. We went through an embarrassing amount of tequila and limes.

Wendy, me and Johnna - Cheers!Wendy and Marian (off camera) explaining - um - dolphin anatomy to Johnna

There are a few bars on the island and I do believe we hit them all, but we did our hardest partying right on our own deck. For those of you nodding in agreement and saying "safer that way", well - you're right and you're wrong. The island is small. We didn't even have access to a car. Our modes of transportation were bike, boat, and golf cart.

Johnna crossing the bridge to pick up more limes! Proper provisions are important. We didn't want to get scurvy or anything.

Now the observant reader may be wondering at this point, what's up with the title? Aside from the 3 bottles of Patron in as many days, I haven't read a diddly damn thing that implies inferior maternal abilities. It had been brought to our attention - and not entirely gently - that perhaps abandoning our children to go off galavanting in the sunshine was neglectful. Now let me set you straight on that notion right now. None of our children were abandoned. They were left in the very capable hands of their fathers. How can something that leaves your mom happy, refreshed and - whole - make her bad? It's simply ridiculous. And not at all selfish, I don't believe. If one takes care of oneself, one is in much better shape to take care of ones family. No apologies. Bad moms, my ample ass.

Plus, if living like this every now and then makes you a bad mom, don't you kind of wish you were one, too? We have an open enrollment policy...