Monday, July 25, 2011

It Could've Been Worse....Really.

So, last week, I finally made the decision to throw my husband outta the bedroom. Now, it’s been two years since Steve’s gone and the widows assure me I’m right on schedule to make this change. It might sound easy enough but after 30+ years of marriage, it’s harder than you think to change our room into my room. But the decision was made. I picked out new bedding. All I had to do was pick it up at Macy’s.

Calvin Klein's Magnolia
Now, it’s a pretty well established fact that I don’t like malls but there was no choice. Macy’s at Huge-dale was the only store that had all the parts of Calvin Klein’s Magnolia bedding in stock. So after a very busy but happy day at work, I set off to the mall, a scant five minutes away.

It took almost 40 minutes to get there. No construction, no accident, no nuthin’ except bad driving. I was already piqued by the time I turned into the lot, but no worries. I found a decent parking space, and off I went to brave the crowds.

In the bedding department, there was one girl (and I mean girl) more concerned with chewing her hair ends than with helping the people milling aimlessly about looking for help. Let’s make this short. After three minutes of pointless conversation with her I asked for a manager…and the manager wasn’t much better. She didn’t know the combination to the stockroom door, and she didn’t know where the stock was actually kept. While she set off to figure it all out, I assisted the other people with their questions. Having done bridal registry for 15 years at Dayton’s/Marshall Fields-now Macy's, this was something I actually was qualified to do. Everyone was happy they didn’t have to talk to the shining star behind the counter still chewing on her hair.

Bedding loaded into the car, I headed for the grocery store. Now, people at work were telling me that they “fixed up” Rainbow Foods in Eagan and I should go there. Well, I thought, what the heck. I’ll give ‘em a try.

BIG mistake.  Not only was the store dirty and to be frank, gross, they didn’t have half of what was on my list. I almost abandoned the cart at one point, but talked myself out of it. I waited on an interminable line to check out, and finally got the bags into the car. As I backed out and turned into the lane, I saw pedestrians, and another car trying to turn into a nearby space, blocking the lane. I stopped.

Something made me turn my head…and I saw her. She was backing up. I couldn’t move. I laid on the horn. She didn’t notice. She just kept backing up….and then, the sickening sound of crunching metal reverberated through my car. People gasped…ogled…then scurried away as I got out of car.

Thankfully, the hitter was an employed young person with auto insurance. After the adrenaline stopped squirting out of my head, we exchanged info and she had the grace to say, “I just told my insurance company it’s all my fault.” I graciously agreed with her assessment, but added, “Y’know, it’s just stuff. There’s no blood, no ambulance, no limbs on the ground.”

Meanwhile, I’m calling home on the cell and my father-in-law is not picking up. I tried several times. Now I’m not only upset, I’m worried. I race home, only to find him sitting on the porch without the port-a-phone…but he did hear the messages I left. He inspected the car and pronounced it easily repairable; I should stop aggravating about it and go fix some drinks.

Being it was Friday night, I made cocktails, a fine getting-ready-for-Shabbat tradition Steve started when we were newlyweds. Getting my blood pressure back to normal, I go out to light the grill. It’s a balmy evening, and I’m thinking it’s not so bad, the car will get fixed. Everything will be just fine.  I go back into the kitchen to prepare the chicken, and then I go out to the grill…that very same grill we gave Steve for Father’s Day about ten years ago.

There is the bottom of the grill lying on the bottom of the grill. Not exactly a good thing. End of barbequed chicken. End of my patience. End of my frayed rope.

Now, I'm not a particularly superstitious person or believer in apparitions, but I gotta tell you, it was beginning to look like someone was a little peeved about the upcoming bedroom change. I gave this careful consideration this as I changed gears and got the chicken into the oven. 

You wanna know something? It's none of his damn business. I'm here, he's not. I get to make all the decisions. If I want to paint the house pink with purple polka dots, there's not a frickin' thing he can do about it. 

I think this is part of letting go...and I think I'm actually okay with that. I'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, we picked out a new grill on Sunday... thanks to my father-in-law who likes his steak grilled.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
If the bottom of your grill lying on the bottom of you grill...
as illustrated above...don't use it for cooking.
The dripping grease will probably set your deck, and then your house, on fire.  

Monday, July 18, 2011

A year in the blogosphere ~ what I have learned

Before I do anything else, welcome to the readers finding me through Brilliant at Breakfast. This is a scathingly funny blog and I highly recommend it.

On to the business at hand.

This past week marked my one year anniversary in the blogosphere. I can tell you with a perfectly straight face that there is a learning curve here.  In the past year, I have learned a number of lessons, some actually quite surprising and others just weird.

Blogs shouldn’t be too long. People don’t have a lotta time and you wanna get your message out fast and clean. So in keeping with that theory, I thought I would simply list some of the valuable the things I have learned.
1. Unless your name is Elizabeth Mountbatten-Windsor and you happen to wear a tasteful bow-knot tiara while dusting the castle, using the royal ‘we” is presumptuous.

a.  If you have an opinion, make it clear it’s your opinion.

b.  If it’s someone else’s opinion, make that just as clear.

2.  Never get into a pissing war with a stranger via comments. You end up looking like a moron who can’t figure out someone is jerking your chain.

3. With "non-public" figures, don’t name names and then say mean things about those people. This means family, friends, frenemies, coworkers, etc. Flames will burn your butt.

4.  Never identify your place of work then talk about it in anything but the least specific terms possible and never anything bad. They issue your paycheck and if you say bad things they will stop issuing your paycheck and this could be detrimental to your quality of life.

5.  You don’t always have to be ha-ha funny, but you do have to amuse even if it’s only in an offbeat kinda way. If you don’t, people won’t come back.

6.   Remember not to ramble.

7.   Politics are fair game, but someone will always think you’re crazy…and that’s okay.

8.  Be aware that the internet never goes away. If you write it and publish it online, it’s as good, or maybe even worse, than carving it in stone.

9.  Never take credit for someone else’s writing. Google is not your friend, and you will be found out. And if I find out you’re using my work with out proper attribution...

    10.  Always include something to embarrass your children. A blog isn’t nearly as much fun to write if your kids aren’t rolling their eyes after you write it. You don’t even need to mention names or even personal details; all you have to do is express an opinion. That’s usually more than enough to send at least one of them over the edge.

I confess, the last one is my favorite. I have way too much fun predicting what is going to prompt the eye rolling behavior.(See what they mean?)

And lest you think I'm taking a holiday from ranting....Did you happen to catch Michele "the Moron" Bachmann's butchering of a single Yiddish word, a word so common that everyone on the planet knows how to say it? Chuts-pah? What the hell is chuts-pah? This is potentially more annoying than her lack of a tenuous grip on amendments to The Constitution of the United States! Let's not even mention her husband's pseudo-psychology practice. Stay tuned; there's gotta be more of this to come.

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Friends don't let friends shop when they're bored in Antwerp
Mens' 11.5 - 'nuff said.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Happy Birthday To Me

Today is my birthday.

My mother claims they almost named me Ford, because it  seems I was in a bit of a hurry to make my appearance and came precariously close to showing up in the car on the way to the hospital in Manhattan. Frankly, I don't remember. I do know I was delivered by the grandson of Sholem Aleichem. It says so on my birth certificate. Not that he was the great writer's grandson, but that his name was Sherwin A. Kaufman and everyone know he is the brother of Bel Kaufman who, at this very moment, is 100 years old and a working professor at Hunter College and everyone knows she is the granddaughter of Sholem Aleichem. Ergo....

I have a wonderful memory of my 4th birthday up in the Catskills. I remember colorful straw hats and plastic charm bracelets. Very Carmen Miranda. I remember sitting at the end of a wooden picnic table with all my friends and blowing out the candles.  And that’s about it for kiddie birthday party memories.

I’m not a birthday kinda person. I’m okay making a fuss for everyone else, but not for celebrating my own. I don’t know why that is.  Even writing about this makes me squeamish.

Steve once asked why I didn’t make a cake that I liked for my birthday. As opposed to what, a cake everyone else likes? Just in case he hadn't noticed, I pointed out I'd never made a birthday cake for myself and wasn't planning on starting.  

Do I mind? Nah, I don’t think so. And especially not now. Confession: I’m still in the "feeling guilty" stage of birthdays. I have them; Steve doesn’t. I'm told this is survivor's guilt.

Not having him around is still weird enough, but not having him here for these annual fetes is just wrenching hard.

Like last week was our anniversary. Every year, on July 2nd, I would wake him up and ask, “Do you know what today is?” and he would always open one eye, raise that eyebrow, and counter, “Nine more shopping days until birthday?”  I always laughed. 

But it was never about presents or dinners out or anything else. It was always about marking time. For every event we had a year-in-review conversation. And even in the worst years, we would always agree to “stick it out” a little longer in case things got better.  We did…they did...until that very last day to that very last moment when we knew we really were out of time.

Then there’s a minor matter of getting older.  In TITANIC, old Rose looks into the hand mirror retrieved from her stateroom and comments, “…it looks the same as it did the last time I saw it. The reflection has changed a bit.”  Yeah, well, my reflection has changed a bit, too, and sometimes I look at it and wonder, “Who the hell is that?” At other times I think, “It could be worse.”

So here I am, trying to figure out what happens next.  I’ve changed teams at my day job and am infinitely happier doing what I do well. Minnesota Public Radio has made me a regular contributor to their commentary page. I’ve gone back to researching a new book. I’m working on getting me back being a me instead of an us, and while it’s a challenge a year ago I thought impossible, now I’m thinking it might actually be do-able.

And for those of you who have known me a zillion or so years, the answer is yes; I am growing my hair out. That way, when I look in the mirror, I look just a tad more like me. And this just may be a good thing. 

Wifely Person's Tip o'the Day 
Keep your birthday expectations pretty low. 
That way, you're never disappointed, and if anything does happen, 
it’s a happy surprise.  

Monday, July 4, 2011

Random Thoughts for July 4th

The first Thanksgiving may predate Independence Day, but July 4th was the first date to become an official American holiday. Anyone who grew up in America has a July 4th story. They’re all unique even if they're all somewhat the same. There are tales of firecrackers and fireworks, punks and sparklers, parades, beaches, open fire hydrants, ice cream, athletic contests and baseball games, barbeques and picnics. Some memories are terrific, some are less terrific. But everyone has a tale about that one July 4th when....

Our best Fourths always started at the beach. When my brother and I were little, we were Point Lookout people, never Jones Beach. Parked on Dad's army blanket, I can still smell it's most endearing, if not peculiar, odor if I close my eyes real hard and think about it. There was always a baseball game blaring on the leather clad portable radio that weighed a ton. We ate slightly sandy, salty, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Clarabell Double-Doody pops. Mom smeared us with something greasy and foul smelling and then sent us off to play in the water. Who knew from melanoma?

July 4th was also a family gig: it was Grandma and Grandpa’s wedding anniversary (woulda been the 96th this year) and we always managed to have a gathering to mark the occasion. This was a no-argument-you're-going-so-get-in-the-car kinda thing. Not that we bothered arguing too much. Our cousins were our best friends and what was better than spending the day with your BFs? We’d stop at the local farm stand for fresh corn, tomatoes, and cantaloupe. (Hey, no matzah balls! A rare occurrence!) As long as Uncle Marc was in charge of immolating the chicken on a charcoal grill, there was that pervasive aroma of lighter fluid, charcoal, and burning chicken fat. It was heaven. And as darkness fell, we ran around with sparklers as mothers yelled, "Be careful! You'll put someone's eye out!"

So when it turned out that the only day everyone could agree on for our wedding was Saturday night, July 2nd, it came with the proviso that Steve and I could not leave for our honeymoon until after the family gathering on Monday. And so we did. We went to my aunt and uncle in Oceanside, then left for the Catskills. (Yes, we went to the Catskills for our honeymoon...but we were also house-hunting in Poughkeepsie, so it was kinda convenient. Kinda sorta. Steve was in culture shock for a month. What can I say?)

In the days yore, when red-white-and-blue bunting was festooned on anything that didn’t move and everything except the beaches and Nathan’s were closed for the holiday, you spent the day with people whether it was on a crowded beach, in a crowded park, or at a crowded street fair. Everyone was out to celebrate. It didn't matter if you lived in a big city or a tiny farm town. Independence Day was a big deal. 

And it still is. Even my own little suburban neighborhood crackles with bottle rockets and cherry bombs as I write this. And I am loving every pop and hissy swish.

We're living in complex times and near as I can tell no one is particularly happy about government...especially Minnesotans...but that should not dampen our enthusiasm for being Americans. We've survived a civil war, any number of depressions, recessions, and political sex scandals. For reasons which baffle the rest of the world, our government has yet to fall.  And the best part? We get to bitch all we want and no one comes to arrest us. There are a whole lotta places where that just is not the case.

So go out, light a few firecrackers and celebrate that you live someplace where you can say what you feel and vote your convictions. You may not always win, but you've had a voice in the process. It may not be enough for you, but it's a start.

Meanwhile, I'm going to go sit on the porch and watch the Mendota Heights fireworks.

Happy Independence Day!

Wifely Person's Tip of the Week
If you happen to know a widowed person
it's okay to acknowledge their wedding anniversary date