Monthly Archives: November 2011

Off to the Mall

I hate Black Friday. On black Friday I avoid the mall like the plague, no pun intended. So when my husband said he needed new glasses and wanted me to help pick them out, I insisted we shop for them NOW! So off we went.

I’m not saying my husband is a control freak, however, he generally insists on driving. I’m not sure if he actually hates my driving or if he just feels uncomfortable in the passenger seat. Perhaps it’s the way I like to slow down when I see a red light so I can see if it will turn green without me ever having to come to a complete stop that pisses him off. It’s kind of a game I play. I don’t see anything wrong with that. It drives him nuts. Maybe that’s it. And he can’t stand how I click on my turn signal sooner than he would. I like to give the drivers behind me fair notice. What’s wrong with that? Nothing. I shouldn’t have to justify my methods. He should be used to it by now. I don’t drive the way he would. Ok, I digress. At least I don’t put makeup on while driving. Shouldn’t I get points for that? Where was I?

Oh yea. Driving to the mall. Although he loves driving, he hates parking. Or perhaps I should say he hates searching for a parking space at a crowded mall. He also hates having to make left turns but I’m not going there now. Since I knew this time of year, with Christmas decorations already starting to twinkle while I obsessively hum All I Want for Christmas is You, he’d welcome my driving. So I did.

“Ohmigod”, I declared. “A spot!” I was thrilled that without even having to circle the lot, or drive up and down the aisles, I scored prime real estate! Waiting patiently for the SUV to back out we discussed our plan of attack at the mall. First things first, we’d get his glasses at the one hour place since he needs them immediately. Next, while the glasses would be processing, we’d head off to Macy’s so I could finally use that $12.46 gift certificate balance I’ve been carrying around since last Christmas season. Our plan was set. Easing in to the parking space in one motion, no backing in and out to straighten out the car like I usually do, I was proud of myself. So was my husband who usually enjoys a good laugh at my expense pointing out how I always park crooked.

The glasses part was fairly easy. He chose glasses very similar to our sons’ glasses, since they never fail to remind us how much more trendy they are than we ever were or ever could be. Maybe they will approve this time. It’s getting real old being teased about age. Need we remind them that their diapers were not all that stylish? Ok, we won’t go there.

After the glasses, Macy’s, then a quick trip to Target for some manly deodorant, (and an ice cream cone for me, but who’s counting) we declared: mission accomplished. Ready to go home, we head out the exit doors. Spotting my car we wondered why there was a line of cars apparently waiting for my spot. They couldn’t have been waiting for me since they didn’t know we were leaving yet. Oh, they were queued up for the space next to us. That made more sense. Like the Pied Piper we headed toward our vehicle with more cars following us, hoping to be first in line for our prized parking space, all the while I’m thinking how next week, Black Friday, will surely be a nightmare. I noticed I wouldn’t be able to enter on my side because the car next to mine had its passenger door wide open. As I go over to ask the boy if he could please close his door so I can get in I’m stopped dead in my tracks by the biggest grin and the sound of pouring water. No, not water. He was PEEING next to MY CAR. In public! WTF! Yuck! We just left a mall with wall to wall restrooms and someone is peeing next to my car!! Gross. After holding my breath and hopping over the puddle to dive into my driver’s seat I hightailed it the heck out of that place.

“Disgusting,” we both gag in unison. With his signature grin my husband adds, “You wanted to drive. And you found a great parking space.”

“Shut up sweetheart,” I smile back at him. “Just pick a place for dinner.” Pause. “Forget it. I lost my appetite.”

What do you think? Would you have said something?

I Think I Figured Out My Husband, Maybe

“Yes dear. Whatever you say, dear.” He does get suspicious when I respond in that manner, but I’m no fool. It’s taken me a long time but I’ve finally learned to choose my battles. When we had to move to Maryland for his job, I was surprised when he didn’t put up too much of a fuss when I suggested donating his old worn out “Frazier’s Dad” recliner to Goodwill. After arriving in Maryland I got to choose our new house. Or, I should say, he let me choose the house. We’re sitting on my sofa. The ugly one that is so comfortable I couldn’t part with. Yes, I’ve gotten my way more than a few times. So when he wanted to build a home theater, after a few lame protests suggesting a guest room would be more practical, I gave in.

Once I got onboard with the idea, I jumped in with both feet, helping to plan the room. The room that would set our house apart from all other homes in the neighborhood giving it that WOW factor, if and when we decide to sell. Since beginning this project two years ago, we have been totally obsessed about the design, the look, and the feel. Should it be classically elegant like the renovated Palace Theater in Cleveland or sleek and modern like the Kennedy Center in D.C.? Would we prefer cold and bold shades of blue and black or soft warm shades of red and dove gray? Should we accent with gold leaf or go bold choosing art deco? We had no other topics of conversation. This became our life. Our dream.

Obsessively, we scoured the internet for pictures of home theater designs. Narrowing it down to three that were doable, the construction process started. My handy husband was doing all the work. How could I complain? He wasn’t out in a bar, drinking with buddies. He wasn’t sleeping on the couch or watching a ballgame. He was in the basement, night after night, banging away with his hammer. Using the complex miter saw he requested for his birthday. He had a project. He was happy. I was happy. Sometimes lonely at night, but happy.

empty room

I watched in awe as the room developed. From a blank slate to a designer’s dream, I cheered him on every step of the way. Proud of his woodworking skills, I kept quiet when our MasterCard bill arrived, listing $700 worth of plywood, realizing it would have cost much more had we paid a contractor. We were saving money. Feeling left out of the building process, I volunteered for decorating duty. Indulging my inner designer, I gleefully hopped from store to store collecting swatches and samples. Carpeting, wallpaper, sconces, paint chips, oh my…. I was in heaven. I enjoyed participating. And he liked my ideas.



I ignored the bill for the carpeting knowing that this is an investment. Our house will be in demand some day. Home theaters are in. This will pay off. I even got into selecting the chairs. The special ones with the cup holders and tray tables. Wow! What will they think of next? I couldn’t help myself. We chose the motorized reclining chairs with the secret compartment for my stash of goodies. I can fill each arm with my M&Ms and healthy Fiber One bars. That reminds me, we still need to buy a refrigerator for our beverages. You can’t expect us to walk all the way upstairs for a drink.


As the room progressed, the TV was the last purchase we would make, after the chairs arrived. We needed a big one. This was the tough part. Staring at 50 screens, they all looked alike. How do we pick? The entertainment unit he built could hold a 65” TV, maximum. We know movies will be in 3D and who wouldn’t want to check their facebook on a big screen? Yes, we bit the bullet and went all out, saving and additional 5% by opening a store credit card. At least this won’t be on my MasterCard. What the hell, this is no time to be cheap. And besides, we’re helping the economy. We’re putting people to work.


The call came at 6:30 this morning. Our 65” Samsung was on its way. My husband stayed home for this big event. He had to help install it. He would make sure this last piece of the puzzle was in place. Where it was meant to be.



As I watched the grin grow on my husband’s face, it slowly dawned on me he’s not just pleased with how his home theater turned out. This grin is more. His face declared I won! I got what I wanted. What did he want? He wanted the one piece of furniture Candice Olsen never places under a chandelier in her Divine Designs. I realized, with this home theater, my husband got not one La-Z-Boy, but an entire room full of recliners. We are the proud owners of six, motorized, cup holding, relaxing, can’t get your butt out of, recliners. “Yes dear, you won! When you get your beer, please get me a Diet Coke. I can’t pull myself away from my chair!”



Vomiting at the Unemployment Office

“I won! I finished dressing first!” I was so proud of myself for being the first one in the house ready to go out. I could never understand why it took my mom so long to get dressed until the first time I witnessed her whole routine. Sitting cross-legged on her bed, elbows on my knees, I watched in awe as she expertly applied layer upon layer of makeup in a procedure seemingly as complex as turning Robin Williams into Mrs. Doubtfire. The moisturizer, the foundation, the pancake, all smoothed to perfection before the colors were applied. The Clinique samples, spread out on her cherry dresser, thankfully covered the dent I made when I accidentally dropped her prized Lalique perfume bottle, the one I knew better than to play with. Mesmerized by her daily routine, I prayed she wouldn’t mention my transgression again as I sat there, watching, learning.

After the lipstick, the rouge, the eye shadow and mascara met Mom’s approval, we were ready to go. I wasn’t sure what to think or where to look while standing in the unemployment line with my mother. Staring at my black patent leather Mary Janes, I clung to my Mom’s side as she proudly stood in her high heeled pumps, sporting her favorite herringbone suit she probably bought out-of-season for 75% off Bloomingdale’s suggested retail price. I can picture her leather pocketbook wedged tightly in the crook of her arm while we waited patiently to pick up her weekly check.

I’ll never forget that smoke-filled room with its paint chipped walls and orange plastic chairs bolted to the floor. Many of the people in line wore Levi’s and faded tee shirts emblazoned with team names like the one I wore at my summer day camp. Others donned skirts or slacks with crisp white shirts. Mom wouldn’t let me sit down or touch anything. She said the seats were dirty. I wasn’t allowed to make eye contact with anyone, but they stared at us. I felt different.

I sensed heads turn toward us when it was my mom’s turn at the counter. I stared at my shoes as Mom politely answered the woman’s questions. “Yes, I’ve been looking for work.” I wasn’t sure why I felt so uncomfortable at the time, although I knew I didn’t want to go back. After she received her check she explained to me that she had paid into the system and now it was time to get her money back.

With the check securely locked in her purse, we spent the afternoon at the Short Hills Mall. She shopped and treated me to ice cream. Before returning home Mom reminded me, “Don’t tell your father what we bought. I’ll hide the bill when it comes in the mail.”

Years later I felt like I was following in Mom’s footsteps when I found myself in the unemployment line soon after the Pittsburgh Press proclaimed: Record Unemployment. Calling me into his corner office, I assumed my manager wanted me to feel special as he sat me down and told me, “You’re not being fired. You have been chosen as the employee we need to lay off.” “Why me?” I asked, surprised. I hadn’t seen this coming at all. “Mary complained you are making faces at her.”

How could I defend myself against this accusation? I was being let go because, apparently, I have no control what my face does. There are laws against discriminating on the basis of race, creed, color, age, disability, national origin, religion, military duty, genetics or gender. But to my knowledge, making involuntary facial expressions is not a protected class. Could it be a disability? I’ll need to find out.

My second week on unemployment I begged the nice woman in front of me to hold my place in line while I ran to the ladies room to vomit. Wondering if it was the fish I’d had for dinner or the thought of the taxidermist I passed on the way to unemployment, I had no clue. I knew this visit would not end at an ice cream parlor.

The following day, while fitting me for my first pair of contact lenses, my eye doctor stepped back while I unceremoniously passed out in his chair. Surrounded by all the machinery for fitting glasses, I found myself awakening to the smell of ammonia just like a fainting scene in a period movie . Where am I? What’s going on? “Don’t worry,” my eye doctor assured me. “Some of my most successful contact lens wearers pass out their first time. Maybe you’re hungry.”

After I returned to the eye doctor after polishing off a huge pastrami on rye with extra pickles, I couldn’t help but think the vomiting and the fainting were more than a coincidence. I couldn’t be pregnant, could I? I had been trying ever since my involuntary job lay off. My brain was spinning. In those days, before the convenience of home pregnancy tests, women wanted to be pretty sure before we ran to the doctor to get the news. At home that night, obsessing again about making that doctor’s appointment as I dipped my kosher dill pickle into ketchup, I started worrying what the doctor would say if I wasn’t pregnant. What if he thinks I’m crazy? Or worse, what if he said, “relax, it’ll happen.” Doctors always belittle my concerns.

Finally, after throwing up every day for nearly a week, convinced I had a bad case of the flu, I finally made that doctor’s appointment to find out what was wrong with me. Yes, the rabbit died! The following week I fully expected to vomit again at the unemployment agency.

Life is not always fair. I should not have been laid off. However, in the grand scheme of things, stuff happens for a reason. Looking back, this was meant to be.

Have you ever been unjustly “let go”? Please share.

What Does a Nurse Make?

“You’re a nurse? Cool. I used to want to be a nurse when I was a kid. What do you make?”


I make holding your hand seem like the most important thing in the world when you’re scared.

I make your child breathe when they stop.

I help your father survive a heart attack.

I make myself get out of bed at 5am to make sure your mother has the medicine she needs to live.

I work all day to save the lives of strangers.

Today, I might save your life.

I make a difference.


I’m proud of my daughter, the nurse,who posted this on facebook.

Please comment on why you love nurses!

Doctors recommend daily chocolate!

This is for your health!!

Although doctors keep changing their minds about whether or not alcohol is healthy for women, they all agree that chocolate, taken in moderation, is a healthy additive to your daily diet. Here are some helpful suggestions for adding chocolate to your diet.

If you are like me, you probably already realize that although chocolate is the perfect breakfast food, whether you enjoy a lowfat, high fiber muffin top or a puffy chocolate cereal, it’s good other times during the day as well.

Oreos, already in sandwich form, are well suited for lunches at school, work or on the go. They can easily be eaten at your desk, while watching TV or standing directly in front of the kitchen cabinet while choosing a dessert.

M&Ms are handy for afternoon snacks and you can never go wrong with chocolate chip ice cream.

Dinner time calls for heartier fare. When making your homemade chile, don’t forget to add a tablespoon of cocoa powder to make sure your meal is healthy.

An evening snack of popcorn is delicious enhanced with a few dark chocolate chips or cocoa powder.

Remember, these are suggestions for your health which is never something to take lightly!

To your health!

Oh, don’t forget the chocolate martini!

The Happiest Woman in America?

When the nightly news tease announced an upcoming story about the “Happiest Woman in America”, I was intrigued. Who is this woman who holds the secret to happiness? She must be rich, gorgeous, have a fabulous family. I was confident she wasn’t a Kardashian, although we all need to keep up with them, don’t we? Since they got my attention, I pressed the record button on my DVR just in case the phone rang. I didn’t want to risk missing this potential life altering story.

What did I learn that would change the course of my life so I too could be on the list of happiest women?

For starters, she is in her 50s. Like me, she is not a spring chicken. Isn’t fifty the new thirty anyway? Yes, in my eyes, she is still young. Perhaps she has the world’s best plastic surgeon. I pulled out my mirror from my purse and decided I could definitely use some work. At this point I was literally at the edge of my seat.

They said she has a child old enough to drive himself to school. That must suggest that carpooling or driving your children to and from school followed by piano lessons, gymnastics and play dates in the afternoon is stressful.

She has a husband who comes home to make her lunch. Let’s stop there for a moment. She has a husband…. Is that making her happy? Would she be happy with a boyfriend who makes her lunch? Is it the relationship, or the lunch part? I’m so confused. My husband used to make me dinner when I came home late from work. He stopped when I became vegetarian claiming he has no idea what to cook. Maybe I should hand him my vegetarian cookbook and I’ll become happier. It’s worth a try. I’m getting bored of thinking of something for dinner.

She has a managerial job and is well respected in her field. On top of that, she is able to telecommute one or two days a week. That’s it. She obviously makes the big bucks. What about all the people slaving away in their 6X10 cubicles all day, every day? Can they ever hope to achieve her level of happiness? Must we all be managers to be happy? Or maybe her income is at the perfect level of the happiness scale. Lower, she would be stressed out by bills, higher she would be bombarded by the overwhelming investment opportunities and unsure whether to buy a BMW for the status, or continue driving her economic and environmentally and politically correct Prius for another year.

They also mentioned that she has a good friend at work. That brings her happiness.

I disagree with all of this. What if she lost her job? In this economic environment that is a very real possibility. What if she found out her husband was cheating on her or her son was using drugs or was in a car accident? What if he was in a car accident while using drugs? Even with the job and the status, would she still be the happiest woman in America? Does she need all of these factors? And what about that friend at work? Is she having an affair with him? What if he wanted to have an affair? Would she still be friends with him? Would this cause her stress? OK, I have to assume, for argument’s sake, that her friend at work is either a woman or a happily married man or gay. I don’t want this friend to potentially ruin her marriage. Oh no, what if that friend wants to go out drinking at happy hour and her husband expected her home and they got in a fight?

I know. I’m analyzing this way too much. But I don’t think happiness should be job dependent. I don’t think happiness should depend on the age of your children or if your husband cooks for you. I think people can be single and be happy. I think people can be working two jobs and still find happiness. I think happiness comes from within. I believe that a job should provide you the freedom to find happiness in life, not to depend on that job for happiness. I think sometimes we are happy and sometimes we are sad. We have good days and we have bad days. We make the sale or we lose the sale, but we can still be happy.

I was in Costco last week. There was a lady handing out samples of Mango Salsa like this was the one product in the world that would bring happiness to everyone who tried it. My husband loves mangos and salsa so I took a sample and thanked the nice lady. When I turned around there was a cute little girl in a shopping cart. She must have been around two years old. She had a piece of cheese in her hand. She looked up at me holding my salsa sample. She showed me her cheese sample. Then she started laughing hysterically. I couldn’t help but laugh myself. Then her mother laughed as she looked at the two of us laughing at each other. Almost in tears, at that moment I felt like I was the happiest woman in America. A child’s laughter will always make me smile.

Want to be happy? Smile at someone. Chances are they will smile back.

What makes you happy?