Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says "Oh shit, she's awake."

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

For the love of Lean Cuisine...

There is probably nothing more difficult than trying to cram as much crap as possible in an one hour lunch break.  Normally, I just head home and grab something left over from dinner the night before, or make a salad.  Filling? Yes. Healthy? Usually. Yummy? Most definitely.  But today, heading home wasn’t an option as I needed a manicure for an event this weekend.  A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do!

Enter the Lean Cuisine.  I’m not sure what Keebler-like elf creates these things in Lean Cuisine Land, but honestly, what it lacks in total calories, it also lacks in total taste.  I opted for the “Spa Collection Thai Noodles.”  Spa? Really?  I can almost guarantee there isn’t a spa on the face of this earth that would serve up one of these babies.  The description on the box reads “Spa Collection. Gaining inspiration from wholesome and modern ingredients…made from vegetables, whole grains and no preservatives.”    My Thai Noodles gourmet extravaganza boasts a low 300 calories, 7 grams of total fat and 41 grams of carbs.  It also has about 580 mg of sodium, which I can pretty much assure you is off the chart in the sodium department.  Still, I was hopeful.  I was also hungry enough to chew my own arm off.  You’d be surprised what you’d eat when your stomach starts to devour itself.  By the way, it should be noted that there are all sorts of handy little tips about eating healthy on the back of a Lean Cuisine box.  You can even sign up for “Rewards points.”  What in the hell are they giving rewards for??? Is there some sort of prize for eating this crap?  There should be.

Upon my arrival back at the office, I popped my very “efficient” looking Lean Cuisine in the microwave for 4 minutes, remembering to cut a slit in the top of the cellophane top, lest my meal explode under such heat and pressure. I stood there, STARING at the microwave, willing time to move at a lightening pace so I could dig in with wild abandon. Waiting…waiting…did you know that watching a microwave is much akin to watching water boil?  In fact, since you are indeed watching each second tick by with amazing precision, I am pretty sure that it is even WORSE than waiting for water to boil.  I paced, I tried to distract myself. I decided that if I went to pee then perhaps time would fly by more quickly.  I had no idea I could pee, wash my hands and check my appearance in the mirror in less than 45 seconds.  Seriously, that has got to be a world record someplace on God’s green earth.  Back to the microwave.  Another minute and a half.  DEAR GOD THIS IS THE LONGEST FOUR MINUTES OF MY LIFE.

Ding!  The waiting is finally over.

As I peeled back the cellophane and peered anxiously into the microwavable dish, a wave of utter disappointment passed over me.  I sniffed it.  It smelled like really bad Thai peanut sauce from a really crappy Thai restaurant.  (I’ve been to several in my life, so I have experience with this sort of thing.)  There were EXACTLY six cubes of what I assumed was chicken breast, some anemic looking red, yellow and green peppers, and a pile of noodles plopped on top of the stinky peanut sauce.  I stirred and prayed it would all magically come together and take on the appearance of something whipped by Ming Tsi.  It did not. Was it because I did not follow instruction exactly and cook on 3 minutes, then remove the cover, stir and recover, cooking for another minute and a half? It must be my fault, because I was never going to admit that I actually purchase such a food travesty.

I took my disappointing lunch back to my desk.  Having no other option, I actually ate it.  While it wasn’t the worst thing to ever pass my lips, it was damn close.  But like I said before, you would be surprised what you’ll eat when you are pretty sure you are watching your life pass before your eyes from absolute hunger.

I know, I could have taken the time to make myself something yummy, I really could have.  But sometimes that extra 15 minutes of sleep surpasses anything else, and I opted for the shuteye.  Will I think better next time?  Yeah, probably.  But just in case, there is a Lean Cuisine Spa Collection Chicken and Tortellini with Basil Cream Sauce waiting for me in the freezer.  I’m hoping that one will present as a more satisfying lunch.  Maybe?  Nahhhhh….

Friday, July 26, 2013

30 years is a long time...

Reunions are a funny thing.  They can bring out the best and the worst in people, often simultaneously.  My 30th high school reunion is next weekend, and I am looking forward to more of the best than the worst. I went to my 20th, still thinking I had something to prove – to whom I’m not really sure. The beauty of my 30th will be the fact that I just couldn’t give a shit anymore.  We all grow and evolve on our own terms.  It took crossing over the “40” age line before I realized I was just fine the way I was, physically, mentally and spiritually.  After that, things just sort of fell into place.  Too bad we can’t take that feeling of self-satisfaction and go back to that awkward time known as the “teenage years” and spend some time reassuring and coaching ourselves through all that anxiety and self-doubt.  We were all just fine back then. We just weren’t able to see it.  At the advanced age of 48 ½ (give or take a month) I am actually pretty happy in my own skin and that’s a really incredible feeling.  I hope my classmates and friends have managed to find their “happy place” as well.  The ones that I am close to I pretty much adore just the way they are.  They’ve grown into amazing individuals, each with their own story, complete with moments of absolute celebration and tragedy.  It’s those moments that make us who we are.

There is a common thread that weaves us all together into a really beautiful fabric.  We all hail from a small town in Pennsylvania, and from my perspective and the observations of others, I think we all cherish and treasure that commonality.  We are special.  We cling to a way of life that allowed us all to enjoy that “Leave It To Beaver” lifestyle growing up, dotted with memories of memorial days parades, Friday night football games, the annual carnivals, and an extreme sense of belonging to something very very good. Life was simple.  Life was splendid.  I know I personally didn’t appreciate that when I was 18 years old and so full of myself, but now…now it has become very precious to me.  Maybe that is what has drawn me to live in another small town, much further south, but with a lot of the same values and sense of community.  They do say things like “y’all” a lot down here, and even this Yankee girl catches herself using such southern phrases, but the reality is Manassas, Virginia shares more with Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania than I ever thought it would. I find it completely heartwarming that so many of my former classmates who left our town after graduation are now back in Tunkhannock, and raising their own families there.  It’s a great life.  I just couldn’t handle those cold Pennsylvania winters anymore.

I’ve also been lucky enough to find a partner and best friend (it only took me three tries, mostly because I’m a slow learner) who shares that same affection for small town life.  Indeed, he has lived and worked within five miles of the house we currently live in (where he actually grew up) his entire life.  I love that stability and solidness about him.  I’ve been anything but grounded over the past three decades, especially the earlier two.  He keeps my feet firmly planted on the ground while allowing me to at least exercise the option to still be myself, and all that comes with that – most of it a bit on the “quirky” side.

It’s good to remember where you came from.  It will help you walk the path to where you are going.  I, for one, am thankful for Tunkhannock, and all those that remain there.  Next Saturday is going to be special, and that makes me smile.

Looking forward to seeing all of you from the Tunkhannock Class of 1983.  Cheers!

Friday, July 19, 2013

You can pick your friends,and your nose, but family...not so much...

Let me start this off by saying this is not about MY family. I am blessed with one of the most amazing families ever, and yes, I'm more than a little biased.  We’re not perfect – not even close.  We fight on occasion, but most of the time we are all about sharing a good bottle of wine and some chips/dip, and having a whole lot of laughs.  There is a fierce love and loyalty between all of us that trumps everything else.  I have gone through some incredibly difficult times in my life, and not all of those times can be attributed to being “unlucky.”  Quite frankly, a lot of it was self-induced because I’m the kind of person who can’t be satisfied with making a mistake once. I have to make it five or six times so I can consider myself an expert.  My family hasn’t always been happy with my decisions, and they aren’t shy to express their opinion, but there has never been a moment when they haven’t stood firmly behind me in solidarity. They’ve seen me through two divorces, and that was no easy task.  They were always very good at seeing what I was completely blind to in the men that I chose for myself.  But they let me walk my own path, and in the end I was lucky enough to marry a man that they not only approved of, one that they actually love and accept.  It’s been one of my greatest joys.

As for my two divorces?  Well, let’s just say I’m not very good at making things easy for myself. On the upside, it has allowed my friends to learn from my mistakes.  I’m just the BEST kind of teacher in that respect.  When my last marriage fell off the cliff, my mom and dad opened their hearts and really listened. They gave me their best advice and they helped as much as they could.  And most importantly, they made sure it was perfectly clear that they were on my side, not my former husband’s side.  It’s good to feel like you have people in your corner.

So imagine my shock when I found out that a close friend’s sister was throwing HER ex-husband a birthday party. At first I was speechless, then…then I was PISSED.  Keep in mind, this was not an amicable divorce and there have been several occasions where it has gotten downright nasty between her and her ex. It’s also a very recent divorce, one that still involves a lot of healing for everyone, including her kids. The first thing I said to her was “Now let me get this straight. They are throwing a birthday party for him???” She confirmed and added that it was a party that her two girls were invited to, but she was not. Ok, now I want to punch someone in the throat.  Seriously?  Well, that is a new level of disrespect I hadn’t really experienced or heard of in a long time.  I told her it was bullshit. I told her if she attended this party, I would personally drive to her house and escort her to a mental institution.  I was mad she wasn’t as mad as I was, but she’s all about “the high road” which I personally find overrated.  I spent many years being a doormat to anyone who chose to walk all over me.  Little did I know when I stopped my doormat behavior, I must have somehow “magically” passed my doormat on to her which she now had firmly secured on her forehead.  I couldn’t swear to it, but she may have even gone the permanent tattoo route.

My anger at her for allowing this to happen is far overshadowed by my anger at her “loving” sibling.  What a wretched excuse for a sister.  I can say with all certainty that my sister would never throw my ex a party. I couldn’t actually promise that my sister wouldn’t run him over if he was crossing the street in front of her.  Family is family and blood is blood. My ex is not blood.  Even if my sister was fond of my ex, it would be a cold day in hell before she EVER pulled that crap.  Her loyalty is firmly on my side of the fence. She’s an awesome sister, by the way.

I’m not sure why I was so shocked that my friend was put in this situation.  This is the same family that insists on inviting her ex to family vacations, even though she was absolutely against it.  Mind you, the vacations are paid for by her mother.  Yeah, I can guarantee my mom wouldn’t even let herself be within a 50 mile radius of my ex, let alone share a beach house.  How do you do that to your own family?  This is HER family, not his.  So this year, he is going on vacation with her family. She is not.  I can’t even believe I just typed that.  Two words. Fucked up. Pardon my French, folks.

The good thing is, while she has a hard time standing up for herself, she is surrounded by friends who have no problem telling her sister to go to hell, myself included.  My friend is a beautiful and wonderful person. In fact, I wish she could see the woman I see. Her sister is a bitch and a bully.  No one needs that in their life.  Getting from one end to the other in life is hard enough, without having family firmly planting a knife in your back.  I was happy to tell her delusional sibling exactly what I thought of her, as did other friends.  We propped my friend up.  I hope it gave her strength and empowered her to take a stand.  This is why picking good friends, supportive friends, is so important.

Family is difficult, sometimes frustrating, sometimes downright infuriating.  It happens in every family, including my own.  The one thing family should never be is devious, antagonistic, jealous or undermining.  I’m sad that she had to endure this utter bullshit from a family member, and I hope that through some sort of miracle, her sister realizes how much she hurt with her actions.  I doubt it, since she is pretty convinced that no one else could possibly be right about anything.  Good thing she isn’t MY sister.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Looks like I’ll be visiting Maine…

It’s unfair the way life tosses someone into your life, only to remove them later.  I hate that, and it’s happened to me a lot over my lifetime – one of the hazards of living in a transient area I suppose.  No one stays in D.C., except me, and I think I hold the record…twenty-seven years and counting.  I had so hoped to get the hell out of here a long time ago, but the furthest I have ventured to live is my current location of Manassas, and that’s only 30 miles from the D.C. border. Wow, look at me, such an adventurer.

Anyway, one of my dearest friends is wrapping up her move to Maine.  In actuality, she has been up there since last fall, but just recently sold her D.C. condo, so now I guess it’s permanent.  (Insert my bitchy resting face here.) I was hopeful that somehow she would not sell it, thus giving her an excuse to come back here periodically, but alas, my hopes have been stomped on by the D.C. real estate market.  She’s all packed up now, and will be leaving next week.  Am I sad? Yep, although not terribly sad.  I refuse to say goodbye to this awesome woman, and priceless friend.  We’ve only known each other for a few years, but I feel like I’ve known her a lifetime.  I also know that no matter how long it is between conversations, or how many miles between, she will always be there, and vice versa. Why? Because she gets me, and all the neurotic/crazy behavior that goes along with knowing me. Besides, I’m not losing a friend. I am gaining a new vacation spot, and that can’t be all bad.  And I have heard her bragging about the outlets up there. Shopping is a good excuse to visit.

Being a Yankee girl, going to Maine isn’t terribly frightening, although they do talk funny up there.  I know they say wicked a lot. I shall try to incorporate it into my vocabulary so that I am comfortable using it in any situation.  “It’s wicked cold out today” or “That’s some wicked big hair you are wearing tonight” (only she will get that reference) are two fine examples of how I can use “wicked” in my every day vernacular.  I also understand that when someone dies in the winter up there, they have to “keep them on ice” until the spring thaw because they can’t dig holes in the ground to plant someone in the winter (keeping them cold shouldn’t be hard since it’s cold as BALLS up there in the winter.)  Hell, just throw grandpa out on the back porch until the ground defrosts. Therefore, I think it’s best if I only travel during the temperate seasons, in case I croak while visiting. I don’t want to overstay my welcome. I think summer is on a Wednesday in July but I will have to verify that.  Maybe it’s a Thursday, I don’t know. I know it’s not much longer than a week at best.  I shall take lots of snuggly clothes with me just in case the weather turns quickly.  I’m going to see her this weekend before her departure, which will give me the opportunity to remind her that she will no longer need all those fabulous summer designer duds, so she should just leave them with me.  I will take good care of them, and make sure they are worn only in fashionable and appropriate situations.   We wear about the same size, so we might as well make the most of it, eh?  Which leads me my next question. I know they say “eh” a lot in Canada, which is CLOSE to Maine.  Does that mean they also say “eh” like they say “wicked”?  Damn, it’s like learning another language.

So to you, my big-haired fabulous friend, I wish you much love and great happiness back home where you truly belong, although it really doesn’t work for me, but whatever.   I shall love you anyway.  Expect a visitor, and make sure those sheets on my bed are high thread count. You know how high maintenance I am. Not "goodbye" but "see ya later alligator". 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The cruelty of 13 year old girls…

Having a 13 year old daughter is my greatest joy. It is also my greatest heartache on any given day. Maybe because even though I am pushing fifty years old, I can still vividly remember the nauseating angst of middle school. And if I think about it too long, I still get that feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I’ve been lucky with Tricia.  She has suffered much less than many other kids at the hands of a bullying classmate.  But I am mystified that when it does happen, it is often at the hands of someone who purports themselves to be her friend. Why is it girls are so cruel to each other?  Jealousy?  Insecurity?  Ignorance?  A ridiculous need to insert themselves into a situation all for the sake of creating drama? Probably all of the above in some form or another.  I’m not sure where these girls have learned such unspeakable meanness.  I know I have worked tirelessly to make sure Tricia understands the meaning of compassion, and indeed she is one of the kindest, most compassionate kids I know, sometimes to a fault.  That being said, I have also tried to make her understand that being a doormat is not an option, and that as long as she is doing the right thing, standing up for herself is really really important. And she does, much better than I ever did when I was her age.  Hell, I’m pretty sure I had doormat tattooed on my forehead until about 40.  

But today…today was one of those days when I could have put her friend “Dory” through a wall.  She took what was a vulnerable issue with Tricia and viciously turned it on her.  Really?  And she did it over text messages and the phone?  Apparently Dory is a gutless wonder on top of being a drama-filled insecure bitch.  Tricia was hurt, really hurt, and all because this pain in the ass of a 13 year old girl was too uncaring or too stupid to know when to shut the hell up.  I gave Tricia the “ignore her” speech. I told her that this person was not a friend.  But it seemed no matter what I said, the situation still cut like a knife in my daughter’s mind.  Have you ever wanted to grab that other kid by her long freaking blonde hair and scream “You’re such a BITCH!” to her?  Yeah, that’s where I was today.

I wish, for one hot minute, Tricia could see the girl I see…beautiful, intelligent, giving, with an acerbic wit and a sharp tongue when she wants to make her point.  There isn’t a day that goes by I don’t think to myself how lucky I am to have such an incredible daughter, in spite of myself.  I know I’m never going to get that coveted “Mother of the Year” award.  In fact, I am constantly amazed she hasn’t landed in therapy by now. But every day, she becomes more and more of a fabulous young woman, and every day I thank God for giving her to me.  

I’ve told her often, these days will pass and in twenty years you won’t even remember this little tyrant’s name.  And for the most part that is true.  It’s such a blessing when we all come into our own and finally realize that the ONLY opinion that matters is our own, and to those who don’t like us, well they can just fuck off.  She’ll get there, probably sooner than most kids. But until then, all I can do is hug her tight and remind her that she is nothing less than wonderful. It comes along with being my daughter.