Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mom, I do NOT like English

What's up with kids rebelling at every possible turn?  It's almost as though the things I love the most about me, they refuse to become; while the things I hate the most about me, they infuse into their being in every possible crevice.  It's ridiculous.  Was I ever really this way--I don't think so--at least not to this extent...

Tonight, as we're sitting at the table in the basement...Marissa looks over at me and states with authority and satisfaction in her voice, "Mom I do NOT like English."  How is this even possible?  I love to read, to analyze, to write, to imagine, to breathe in the sweet scent of books--none of which is carried over to her.  I did not raise her this way.  I read to my daughter, wrote her notes--to which she reciprocated, loved the fact that teachers complimented her on her vocabulary and her writing.  And now, these frightful teenage years have hit, where it's almost her JOB to defy everything that stands to be most important to me.  As the words rolled off her tongue, I sat in silence--knowing that a good debate could ensue, but not easily taking the bait that I know she wants me to take.  Instead, I clench my jaw and do what any lover of the language does to vent--write.

I've decided to not take these things personally.   To actually look inside of myself to try to remember what it was like to be 15.  The year was 1985, and I hated English.  Math was my favorite subject, followed by Science.  English was never a challenge--rather an easy "A".  Math made me think--besides my mother sucked at Math, so it was another thing that made me different from her.  There was no way I wanted to be anything like my mom--she wasn't cool like me; she didn't know what life was really all about; basically, the woman didn't have a clue.  She READ all the time--boring.  She forced me to WRITE thank you notes to my relatives--god, I hated doing that.  Seriously.  I couldn't just call?

And as I sit here, thinking, contemplating, I can't help but smile just a bit.  Because now, as an adult, there's nothing like getting lost in a book (or in a Nook).  I look forward to sending out cards--whether they be Christmas cards, Thanksgiving cards, birthday cards, thank you cards--heck, I even send out Halloween cards, Easter cards, and Valentine's Day cards.  They mean something--even if it's only to me.

So as I write, and as my daughter continues to complain about how much she hates the class, hates the teacher, and absolutely can't stand anything to do with reading and writing, I know that one day she will have an appreciation for it.  Until then I'll continue to sit with her at the table, listening to her papers rattling and her deeply sighing--knowing that one day she'll be doing the same for her daughter.

And that's when I'll laugh.

Monday, November 28, 2011 the Basement

The kids got home from their dad's Sunday evening, and since that moment have been overly excited about their "new space."  Now, we've had the basement from the moment we moved in--three years ago.  Never has the basement gotten so much attention--rather any attention at all.  The basement has been a gathering of Christmas decorations, photo albums, camping stuff, and just crap that we don't wish to look at.  The arrival of the pool table has changed all of that--and it hasn't even made its basement debut.  Brandon and Marissa have created an "apartment" of sorts--and the basement has taken on that name as well.  They've been "making walls"--out of sheets mind you, setting down flooring--more sheets, and making an ambiance of comfort in their "apartment"--complete with Christmas tree, furniture, wall hangings, and a stereo.  I haven't seen them so into cleaning and organizing in god knows how long.  

Table's in the back

Marissa's been cooking dinner 3-4 times per week as of late.  I love this new found talent of hers.  Tonight, after putting the food into serving dishes, she carried them down the stairs and into the basement.    Their "apartment" is complete with table, tablecloth, and metal folding chairs.  The absolute comforts of home.  "MOM!" the two of them screamed followed by "Dinner's ready!  COME DOWN TO THE APARTMENT!"  I tried to withhold the smile, and a bit of laughter, as I headed down the stairs.  They had the whole meal arranged on the table.  I sat there in the midst of telling our highs and lows of the day, freezing my butt off (this is the basement after all), and had the best meal ever.  When Kent arrived home, he made his way down the stairs, praised the kids on a job well done, and looked at me with laughter in his eyes.  Who would have known, that even with a kitchen table and a formal dining room table, that dinner in the basement would be the best place to have meal!  
Excited about the blacklight that she installed

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Not As Planned...

Funny how way too often, things just don't seem to go as I planned them to.  Last May I purchased tickets for the family and I to see The Lion King at the Denver Center for Performing Arts.  As part of our family's yearly tradition, we always go see a play, the ballet, or musical to kick off the holiday season.  We've gone to the Nutcracker more than a few times, last year saw A Christmas Carol, and I was so excited to go to this year's performance.  After holding on to the tickets for 6 months, the day was finally here!  Last week I took the kids and Kent to purchase new outfits for the show, and our big night out was all arranged.  We'd be going to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner, then walk around downtown under all the lights before strolling over to the DCPA for the show.  Perfect.  Yeah, not quite.  The first blip in our plans began at noon yesterday, when my son called to tell me he was heading to his dad's early from work.  He was sick as a dog.  Being we still had a few hours, I told him to rest it up and we'd see how he felt later on in the day.  Four hours later, his fever was rampant.  Brandon was not going anywhere.  I called up my niece to see if she could come, and she could!  I was thrilled to have her come along with us, and a bit relieved that the ticket wouldn't go unused.  Kent and I got to the kids' dad's house, and I headed up to Brandon's room.  He was feverish still, wanting me to just scratch his back.  I felt terrible that he wouldn't be joining us for our yearly tradition.  He's never missed out before, and with him being 17, I know there's not a lot of time left before he's out and on his own.  I was bummed.

Marissa, on the other hand, looked amazing!  She was ready for the show, wearing a leopard print skirt and furry vest.  After kissing Fuzz on the forehead, we headed out of the door to go and pick up Amanda.  She, too, was ready for the show!  Amanda had on a brown scarf, with a giraffe print scarf, and looked great as well.  The four of us arrived at the Cheesecake Factory, were seated within 10 minutes and were then promptly forgotten about.  Luckily, we had plenty of time to spare because the waiter was MIA.  He forgot to bring us bread, forgot to refill drinks, and forgot half of Marissa's order.  Not exactly the perfect meal, but the company was great!  The girls had a good time chatting it up, as did we.  After dinner, there would be no strolling around town.  It was freezing outside with a breeze like none other!  Instead of picture-perfect moment I had been transpiring in my mind for the last six months, we sat in the car with the heat blasted trying to get warmed up before walking over to the DCPA.

We made our way to the show, got seated, and sat in awe as the animals filled the auditorium.  The music took me back to when Brandon and Marissa were little.  I used to play the Lion King CD over and over--at one point, it was the only soundtrack that would put Brandon to sleep.  We snuggled on many evenings under big old blankets watching that movie.  I couldn't wipe the smile off of my face throughout the entire first act.  I was mesmerized, and it was wonderful.

And then there was the intermission...  And I stood up...  With my black sweater dress somehow making its way up over my ass...  Clinging to my tights...  And I didn't realize this had occurred...  And I stood up...  With my entire ass showing.  I mooned the people behind me for a full ten seconds before I realized why there was a giggle from the girl behind me, and a slap to the man's head behind me.  My hand leapt immediately to my behind and I tugged my sweater dress down.  Immediately I took off to the bathroom, completely, fully embarrassed.  Seriously.  This crap only happens to me.

There was no way I was going back to my seat before curtain call.  Kent asked me what was wrong and I told him what had happened.  It was so quick that no one, other than me and the people I mooned, saw what had happened.  He laughed; I did too.  What else could we do?

So although my perfect evening didn't go as planned, it did make for a fun night--and a good laugh!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Craig's List Killer (Deal That Is...)

I swear some days there's like a target on my forehead.  The word in the middle is always a bit different, and today's word would be "Sucker!"  Let me back up just a bit...  The kids have been complaining (nothing new here) that there's never anything to do.  We have no neighbors for them to hang out with, none of their friends live near us, and blah, blah, blah.  So, being the mother of the year, I decide that Santa should arrive a little early this year.  I started searching the ads last week in hopes of finding a pool table/ping pong combo at a reasonable price.  Upon showing my friend Sarah some that I found, she plants the Craig's List seed in my brain.  See on Craig's List I can get something better that someone else no longer wants.  For the first time EVER, I find myself searching the Craig's List ads and actually find a great deal.  This pool table is a professional, stellar deal.  I'm excited!  I call the lady, who is older and seems legit, and arrange a time to meet.  This was last week, by the way.  Because I did watch the Lifetime movie about the Craig's List Killer (granted that was a different transaction about to transpire, but still...), I text all of the lady's information to Kent before the meeting.  I also tell Sarah that if I'm not back in an hour, then I'm probably dead and she should call the cops.  I go and meet the lady's renter, who ends up being very nice.  The pool table is just as great in person as it was on the ad.  Plus it comes with all of the accessories!  I'm psyched about my soon-to-be purchase.  I talk the lady down from $400 to $275.  I'm that good.  The table was originally $1200.  I was taught to be a wheel and dealer, and never settle for anything less than a good bargain.  My husband has to rent a truck, and does so for this morning.  He's enlisted two of his friends (thank you so much Garrett and Brett!) to help with the move.  I drive Garrett on over, with Kent and Brett following in the truck.  Of course, I have a waxing appointment and can't stay and help with the move.  I wish I could've, but it wasn't in the plans...  (slight smile here...)  I head off to my waxing appointment, and leave the three guys to do the heavy lifting.  What I didn't realize was this beast weighs a good 800 pounds.  I'm lying on the waxing bed as the chick is ripping the hair from my eyebrow, when my phone goes off.  I contemplate for a second as to whether or not to answer it.  "Want to get that?" she asks me, and I reply, "No."  After all, I wouldn't want to be rude.  I finish up and call my husband.  He's practically gasping for breath and tells me there's no way these guys can get this beast down in the basement.  They barely got it into the garage.  I arrive at my home, with Starbucks in hand, and see the ensemble I purchased in the garage.  "There's no way to get it down there?" I ask handing one Starbucks to my husband.  Always go into a situation bearing gifts and the outcome will more than likely go your way.  "Babe, have you seen the table?"  "Yes, when I looked at it.  Looked great to me!"  He brings me out to the garage and lifts up the tarp.  I didn't see the 2" slate that was under the green.  Oops.  "We were lucky to get it here--there's no way to get it down in the basement without one of us hurting our backs."  "Can't just man it up?"  Wrong thing to say.  Another oops.  He grabs his phone and starts calling some pool table companies to see if they can move this thing and set it up in our basement.  And they can--for $250!!  Seriously!  So my Craig's List deal cost $275 + $60 (truck rental) + $250 = $585.  Yep, just another day in paradise...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving--It's a Lifestyle, Not a Day

I'm a Facebook fanatic--love the site.  Love being able to learn new information about people I care about; love being able to see pics of loved ones and being able to share mine; absolutely love the daily internet interaction that makes me feel connected to my fellow Facebook friends.  The week before Thanksgiving is typically when people start posting their "giving thanks" updates.  Today, as I was reading 13 updates all based on Thanksgiving, it made me realize how it's not really just a day for me--rather it's a lifestyle.

I'm lucky enough to have a family that meets more than just during the holidays.  And while my family does have its issues--yes, there's the sibling that hasn't been a part of our family for over twelve years; yes, there's been the hellish times raising teenagers, and yes, there are days when everyone at the table is driving me nuts and the dinner can't go quickly enough.  Regardless of the less than stellar moments, I love that my mom gets "distraught" should I forget to call midweek, even though she saw me three days prior.  I love that we all get together to eat the same Italian meal on a weekly to bi-weekly basis all year long.  I love the fact that my we enjoy each other's company.  It makes me thankful.  So this year I've decided to create a list of some of the things that I'm thankful for...

  1. My family--each and every one of them.  Even my brother, who hasn't been in my life at all in my 30s or now in my 40s.  I don't know who I'd be if I had a decent brother, and that's okay because I like who I am without him.  Very grateful for my parents.  While I love them without question, I really like them.  I laugh the most when they're around, and I love that.  They're good people.  I'm also grateful for my sisters--knowing that they're my friends and are always there for me no matter what.  For that, I'm thankful. 
  2. My kids--they've humbled me without question.  I've never questioned my abilities the way I do as a parent.  The doubt, the worry, the angst--while those things don't appear to be on the top of most people's list, I truly believe they've made me a stronger person.  There's strength in weakness, something I never really knew until I had kids.  I'm thankful for my two babies, and love them in a way that only a parent can love. 
  3. My husband--his kindness and ability to love me with every iota of his being surprises me every day.  He makes me laugh, drives me nuts at times (especially when he leaves his shit on the floor--for the record I never do that--okay I do, but it's not as annoying), and is my partner in everything I do.  I'm so thankful to have him in my life.  I love him in a way I didn't know I was capable of.
  4. For the way my dog, Gates, greets me with such love and affection.  The way he moves his nose up and under my hand when he needs some loving. 
  5. For my friends--I just love and adore and can count on you guys no matter what.  I love you guys and I'm VERY thankful to have you in my life.
  6. For the GREAT Green Bay Packers who make football so exciting to watch--loving this year! (and last year too...)
  7. For the lady at Starbucks who knows my drink before I ask for it.  The extra time I save every (well, every OTHER) morning does add up.  
  8. For the special lens cleaners that clean my glasses.  Nothing else cleans them right.  So whoever invented that stuff, thank you.
  9. For my body pump instructor, Andrea, that keeps me moving when I'm exhausted.  Truth be told, I have been ignoring her for 2 weeks now, but I was sick...really.
  10. For Steve Jobs--because without him I wouldn't be typing this on a Mac--and I love my Mac and all the other Apple products I own--like my iPhone4 on a 3G network (my kids shake their heads whenever I say this).
  11. For my Keurig coffee machine--this I am really grateful for.  It's so nice not having to waste an entire pot of coffee when I'm really only needing one or two cups.  Love this.
  12. For patience--there's been times when I've absolutely wanted to lose it, but this little saying "patience is a virtue" pops up in my mind, causing me to breathe and chill.  Thankful for this little tidbit that's kept me in check over the years.
  13. For the auxiliary cord in my car, that allows me to plug my iPhone4 on a 3G network into my stereo and listen to my favorite music.  That's awesome.
  14. For the ability to say "Call Kent Mobile" when I'm in my car and it just dials him (or whoever I want to speak to) on in.  Seriously--I'm from the age of the rotary phone.  This feature is just awesome.
  15. For the fast forward button on the remote control.  No more commercials for me.  I'm very grateful for the ability to watch a scheduled 30 minute T.V. show in the actual 20 minutes of air time that it takes up.  
  16. For my migraine medicine.  Enough said.
  17. For the rewards points on my credit card.  It's so nice to get gift cards in the mail or an extra $50 in the savings account.
  18. For lotion--I'd have some seriously dried skin if it weren't for my Lucerin.
  19. For learning how to dream, and the ability to dream big.  I'm so thankful for everyone that's ever helped me achieve my dreams--and for those that encourage me to keep on dreaming.
  20. For Tylenol PM--especially grateful for this product when my neighbors leave their dog for days at a time.
  21. For candles and their ability to relax me, while filling our home with scents of cinnamon or vanilla.
  22. For my camera and for the camera on my phone. I'm so thankful that I have the means to record memories.
  23. For creamer--I am so thankful for the different flavors to throw into my coffee everyday.  It's just so convenient and tasty.
  24. For vanity sizing.  Seriously.  I'm grateful that age 41, I can still squeeze into a size 6.  Granted only in some brands of clothes, so to the Vera Wang collection--thank you!
  25. For snow days--there's really nothing like the delight in my kids' voices when there is a snow day.  I'm grateful to have a job that allows me to snuggle down with a good book when the weather sucks.
  26. For laughter--one of the greatest sounds, feelings, and gift that I can give.  My laugh is ridiculous, but it's mine.  I love to laugh and to make people laugh.  I'm thankful to be so funny--okay, I'll work on my jokes.
  27. For Kohl's cash--it's like they're paying me to shop.  Really.  Really!  I love that Kohl's cash, dammit.
  28. For my Nook.  Even though I felt like a traitor for the first ten minutes that I used it, being an English teacher and all...I'm so thankful for this contraption.  I can carry a zillion books at my fingertips.  I hope they create a waterproof one, so I can one day take it in the tub or to the pool.
  29. For my tweezers--what's up with all the stray hairs on my face as of late?  Seriously.  I'd look like Big Foot if it weren't for my tweezers, so thankful for it.
  30. For hairspray and gel.  You've seen my hair--it's out of control, yet tamed by these two products. SO grateful to have them otherwise...I don't even want to think about it.
  31. For my open heart.  Because of this feature given to me, regardless of all the bullshit I've endured, I remained open to love.  I'm so thankful, because without this I wouldn't have ever found the love of my life.
  32. For my family--while I know they made the list already, my family also includes all of those near and dear to my heart.  I am very thankful for each and every one of you that is a part of my life.

There's a ton more that I'm thankful for, but these seem to be the ones in the forefront of my brain.  I'm blessed to be surrounded with good people every single day, not just on Thanksgiving.  Today, when I sit around the table at my parents' home chowing down, I will think about all that I have to be thankful for.  And next week, when it's not Thanksgiving, I'll be sure to be doing the same.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Black Friday--It's Tradition.

I have some mixed emotions about this year's Black Friday.  I'm a bit pissed off that the stores are opening Thursday night.  No, not because it's on Thanksgiving--and to be 100% honest, it's not due to the politically correct reason that employees are missing out on time that should be spent with their families.  Sorry.  While I may not have the most popular opinions, they are mine.  And I own that.  I'm pissed off because I'm a diehard Black Friday shopper.  Diehard.  Waking up at 2 a.m. to stand in the freezing cold, even though the store doesn't open until 4 a.m. (or 5 a.m. in some cases).  I get my Black Friday emails starting in September; I have my Black Friday apps on my iPhone; I have already memorized the Black Friday ads and know exactly what stores I'm hitting (and the times too).  This year, with all these early openings, the PRESTIGE of Black Friday has gone to the wayside.  I tried explaining this to my mom, who thinks I'm insane for loving this shopping ritual.  She went with me once, and couldn't hang with the true intensity this shopping sensation brings.  "Prestige?" she asked me, as if confused by my word choice.  Why this word would cause anyone confusion is beyond me.  Let me explain.

The definition of the word is as follows:
Prestige:  Noun:  Respect and admiration felt for someone or something on the basis of their achievements or quality.

The amount of respect AND admiration I have for any soul that is able to beat me to the first in line is not something to be ignored.  Those women are amazing and I hold them in high regard.  Unless the person who beat me happens to be a man, that is.  Then I just get pissed.  Call me a sexist.  I really don't care.  This is NOT a day for men or for small children.  Both usually end up getting in the way or getting hurt.  Consider this a courteous public announcement--or as a warning.  You pick.

I wasn't always this way.  The year was 1996 when I headed out to my first Black Friday expedition.  I was such a newbie, and very naive in the way the day works.  I remember being in Toys R Us thinking I'd just stroll on in and purchase the Woody doll for my son, Brandon.  He was two and loved Woody from Toy Story.  I wasn't the first in line, wasn't even the 100th customer.  Like I said, such a newbie and completely clueless about the prestige of the day and of the Black Friday shopper.  Needless to say, there wasn't a Woody doll in sight--the display had been picked clean.  I was devastated with the thought of not seeing my son's eyes light up with delight upon opening the gift.  I was so naive in the ways of the true Black Friday shopper.  In that brief moment of loserville, I saw something in my peripheral vision.  Some one had taken the much wanted Woody doll and tucked it away in one of the shelves.  In the same moment I saw the doll, another woman did too.  When I recall this moment, I clearly remember feeling two things: 1) ready to destroy anyone in my path of getting the Woody doll and 2) an insane adrenaline rush.  My legs started running full speed down the aisle of the store and I was able to grab ahold of the Woody doll before the other woman.  I was filled with a feeling only to be compared with winning the lottery.  She offered me $100 for the doll, which I politely refused.  NO amount of money was worth the joy this toy would bring my son.  And never again would I hold either of my children's happiness to chance.

So for the last 15 years, come hell or high water, I've been there--in the front lines on Black Friday.  Over the years some things have pissed me off--like the year a man beat my sister and I to the coveted first-person spot in the front of Target.  He wasn't even a diehard.  Rather was holding the spot in the line for his wife, so she could sleep until the last minute.  I mean, really.  Ridiculous.  I'm still a little bitter about that one.  Or the year when they opened both doors to Kohl's and those of us that had been waiting in the line for 2 hours got passed up for entering first (that hasn't happened since--the management at Kohl's learned to never make that error again).  Then there was the year my sister and I got to Best Buy 3 hours early--only to discover the line was already all the way around to the back of the building.  One of the early years and this was a rookie mistake.  There were people in tents and fire pits were going--that was nuts.  Despite all of these irritants, I love it.  I love the crowds; I love the race; I love the excitement.  Over the years many people have gone with me--family, friends, and for the first time last year, my daughter.  And there have been years I've gone at it alone.  I've always been able to secure whatever gem I was searching for, and at a price that was unbeatable.  I've paid $10 for CD players, $10 for scooters, and only $20 for digital 7" picture frames.  I've gotten sweaters, socks, slippers, and every other article of clothing for next to nothing.  I've bought electric guitars and acoustic guitars for $30.00--yup, that's right.  Even digital video game chairs with all the plug-ins for under $30.00.  I'm that good.

This year, however, Black Friday is different.  The prestige is gone.  Those saps, whoever they are, that set the hours for Black Friday are a bit misguided.  Anyone can stay up until 10 p.m. or get in a line at 8 p.m.  Anyone can shop at midnight.  It's the waking up at 2 or 3 in the morning that made me a diehard. I can't respect OR admire anyone that goes from the Thanksgiving dinner table to the line.  Gimme a break.  Where's the prestige in that?

While I've been stewing over the lack of prestige Black Friday is bringing about this year, I'll still be there with bells and whistles.  I'll still be eyeing up the poor souls that beat me to the front lines.  I'll still be ready to rush through the stores, collecting all the great buys for the people I love.  This year, there will be five of us--my daughter included.  I only hope that I've instilled in her the passion and dedication it takes to be a true Black Friday diehard.  After all, Black Friday and the prestige that goes into this day are tradition.

Just in case you need it:

To the Original Grandma Slipper

To say I'm sentimental is putting it lightly.  I love old things.  I love to look back at my "collection" of stuff from my childhood and remember all the silly stories that coincide with each item.  I get this pack rat mentality from my father, who by the way has more stuff than anyone I know, and my sentiment from my mother, who like me will tear up at anything emotional--be it a wedding, a Lifetime movie, or even a commercial for god's sake.  Knowing my love for anything that holds sentimental value, my mom decided to give me something very special this past year--my grandma's ceramic Christmas tree from ages ago.

I didn't expect my body to react in the way that it did last Sunday, as my daughter and I were decorating the house for the holidays.  I took the ceramic tree out of its protective box, got a couple of cloths, and began to clean its dusty surface.  It had been in storage since 1996, the year my grandma passed away.  I found myself gingerly wiping the tree, almost in a reverent way.  It was as though I was taking care of my grandma and it needed to be done with tender hands.  With each stroke, I began to remember.

I remembered being in her white Skylark as a little girl, and running around Cranston street getting last minute shopping accomplished.  All four of us kids, seatbelt-free, hanging our heads out of the windows.  I remembered one particular instance, when we were zooming out of the CVS and she almost sideswiped a yellow corvette.  There was no apology that would leave her lips, instead her finger went flying out of the window and the Italian curse words flew rampant.  The four of us just giggled and thought grandma was nuts.

I remembered walking to the Italian bakery on Federal Hill, getting pizza strips and tea biscuits.  The way she would say "Cuck-coo" to us as kids making us laugh every time.

I remembered my sisters and I donning her with the nickname "Grandma Slipper" and laughing every time we called her that.  I remembered her belly laugh that brought us all so much joy.

I remembered when I was in Jr. High and she came to live with us.  How the moment she had to "remove her bowels" whoever was in the bathroom had to make a quick exit or else.  I remembered her cutting all of my brother's jeans into shorts because the weather was warm--and I remembered how he wanted to kill her because he never wore a pair of shorts in his life.  I remembered my mom pacifying the living situation between my little sister and my grandma, who never got along the way my older sister and I did with my grandma growing up.

I remembered my brother teaching me to hot-wire the Skylark, and taking it for a drive up and down our dirt driveway.  I remembered grabbing the broom to sweep away the tire marked evidence before my parents got home from work.

I remembered playing with her doughy arms, the softness of her body whenever I moved in for a snuggle.  The way my small frame fit into her large Italian one.  The comfort she always brought.

I remembered my brother telling my mom he was driving down Cranston Street and a car was driving on the wrong side of the road--heading straight towards him!  It was my grandma, who was getting too old to drive.  I remember my mom having to take away her license, her independence.  I remember seeing love between a mother and daughter that was displayed every time they were together.  Even through arguments that only mothers and daughters share, there was always that love.

I remember grandma asking me to pick one of her diamond rings to keep, with me choosing the smallest one made only of diamond chips.  I remember asking her to tell me the story behind the ring.  I remember her telling me how she ran away with Anthony when she was only 16 years old, with the $5.00 grocery money his mother gave him to do the week's shopping with.  I remember her telling me how they had no place to go, having to go back to her now mother-in-law's home with their tails between their legs.  There was no mercy placed upon these two crazy kids, and an iron skillet was thrown at Anthony's head--scarring his face for life.  The year was 1925.

I remember the way she was always cold--the temperature of her home always kept in the 80s.  Or when she sat outside at Brandon's baptism party, in the sun, with three blankets piled high on her.

I remember going to her apartment on Cranston Street, with her cooking a pound of pasta for every guest and every meat imaginable could be found in the gravy.  I remember having to finish every last bite, so she wouldn't be insulted.

I remember the time I went to visit her, and she flung open the door in absolute disgust.  "What's wrong, Grandma?" I asked her.  "That god damn Frank upstairs.  Calling me to go and have a glass of wine with him.  He's just looking for sex, that dirty old man."  I remember laughing in absolute hysterics, me being a teenager, and the thought of my grandma getting it on was enough to put me over the edge.

And I remembered my grandma getting sick.  And visiting her in the hospital.  I remember her wanting to see her "boy" and holding up the picture of Brandon.  I remember the feel of her hand on my stomach, which was housing Marissa for a couple more months.  "No more after this," she said to me pointing her finger in the way she did at me.  I remember her laughter, and the smile on her face as her child, her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren gathered around.

And I remember having to say good-bye, with tears streaming down my face, my dad literally having to drag my sisters and I away.  I remember knowing in my heart that I'd never see her again.

I remember knowing she had died before the phone even rang.  I remember my mom being inconsolable.  I remember having the most vivid dream I've ever had, and grandma telling me to tell my mom that she was okay.

With every stroke of my hand upon the ceramic Christmas tree, I remembered.  I could see the tree up in her apartment, on the little side table with the glass candy bowl that was always filled.  "Mom are you crying?" Marissa asked me and being so filled with emotion not one word could escape my lips.  I made my way to the bathroom, blew my nose, and told myself to pull it together.  My grandma passed away 21 days after Marissa was born, almost 15 1/2 years ago.  And I miss her.  I miss her stories of the Great Depression.  I miss the way she stole all of the sugar packets and napkins at every restaurant we went to.  I miss the way she drove us all nuts.  I miss her wisdom, that no education provided to her.  I miss her at every family celebration, at every holiday get-together.

As I made my way back to putting in the plastic decorations that go in the holes on the tree, Marissa found her way back to me.  "Sorry, honey, this tree's making me a bit emotional," I told her.  "Can I help finish?" she asked.  And together, my daughter and I put up my grandma's ceramic tree.  In silence.  In memory of a very special lady.

I love you, Grandma Slipper.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Take Care of Your Pets, Already!

There is nothing more frustrating than crappy pet owners.  For the last THREE nights I've been unable to sleep due to my neighbors deciding to take off for the Thanksgiving holiday.  With their decision to get the hell out of dodge, they've left their dog home.  Unattended.  Allowed to bark, whine, and howl ALL FRIGGIN' night long.  The dog won't shut the hell up.  So it's almost 11 pm, and here I sit, unable to fall asleep once again.

It's hard not to go outside and scream at this dog.  I want to make him as miserable as I've been for the last three night.  But I don't.  Mostly because my husband keeps reminding me, "It's not the dog's fault, it's the owner's."  Which, while true, doesn't eliminate my longing to rip the vocal chords out of this damn dog's throat.  Instead of sleeping, I get to experience poor Jay Leno jokes...

In all actuality, I do feel badly for this dog.  I've been tempted to go and get the poor thing and let him on into our home--a place where we actually do love our pet.  I mean look at him!  He's the greatest dog ever.  Even when he's ripping farts (like really loud, human sounding ones--gross, I know), running around like the ADHD doggie that he is, or just being annoying we all love him.  I can't imagine taking off and leaving him alone, all night long, for days on end.  So for god's sake, if you're a pet owner just take care of your pet, already.