Friday, February 25, 2011

The Friday Car

My parents are in their seventies, and have worked most of their lives.

My dad retired from his latest job less than a year ago.

He has become the full-time "house manager",  which he seems to enjoy,
     while my mom continues to teach her music lessons full time.

They own two cars, but since my dad no longer drives to work,
     they only use one.........................

except for Fridays.

The mini-van has now become "The Friday Car".

"The Friday Car" follows "The Friday Schedule",
     which is normally the same......................

every Friday.

Like a spirited horse, longing to escape the four walls of the barn,
     and explore wider pastures,
I wonder if "The Friday Car" knows when it is Friday?  



Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Road Trip

Yesterday, the teenagers and I ( my two oldest "children") went on a road trip.

ROAD TRIP!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I LOVE road trips.

While any good road trip does not have to have a purpose,
     we had a 2:00 meeting to visit a college campus, three hours away.

Out the door at a decent hour, a quick "on the go" stop for coffee and breakfast,
      and we were on our way.

I settled into my seat, allowing my alter egos, GPS and Cruise Control, to take over.  

I had more important things to do, like choosing the right radio station to suit my mood.

In order to have a successful road trip, one must ABSOLUTELY have good music.

The teenagers were plugged into their own, 
     so I had complete control over the knob (or button).    

Little did I know, Mondays are  "Eighties Appreciation Days",
     and since it was Monday,
my road trip turned out to be a trip down memory lane, as well.

The Police, The Cars, RICK JAMES (Super Freak!), B-52's, Pat Benatar, Billy Joel, Billy name a few.

I knew all the lyrics, and sang aloud with unbridled joy.     

Every song brought with it a memory,
     transporting me back to a carefree time in my life,
when the most difficult decision was where to hang out on a Friday night.  

By the time we reached our destination, I felt like I was seventeen again.

As I walked toward the campus with my two teenagers, however,
     I was quickly reminded that I was not. 

I am the PARENT of a SEVENTEEN year old,
     who is about to go off to college (I told myself).

Maybe I will go back to the car and listen to eighties music...............






Sunday, February 20, 2011

My Place

Everyone needs that place.

That place you can escape to, just a short drive away.

That place where, the minute you walk through the front door,
     you can feel your worries............... fade to gray,

     and time immediately stands still.

The air feels easier to breathe; a smile - easier to crack.     

The conversations flow, and laughter just..................happens.   

Good food, good people, comfort, and warmth,
     and maybe, a libation (or two).

I visited "my" place on Friday.  

It had been too long since I had.

Like visiting with a beloved friend,
     by the end of the evening, my cup felt full. 

Thank you for being my place.  

Until we meet again.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Girl with the Hair

The room was filled with an audience.    
The space was small, and every bar stool and chair was taken.
He stood with his stand-up microphone, in the corner. 
Thirty-something, unless he looked old for his age,
and somewhat unkempt.
Hair, a bit messy, and he wore a wrinkled shirt, untucked.   
He carried that "I don't give a shit" attitude, and was dressed for the part.

He was a comedian.  

Funny enough for a five-dollar show.
I laughed out loud at several of his jokes, but I was not busting apart at the seams.

That being said, I respect and admire anyone who is willing to risk public humiliation.

While he slouched over his mic., telling joke after joke, story after story,
     his eyes seemed to wander around the room in a scattered fashion, 
but always landing on ...................."the girl with the hair". 

SHE was his focal point, I thought.

Like during child birth, or a yoga class, she was the "spot on the wall"
that was going to help him .....................survive.
Although, I have given birth three times, and attended several yoga classes,
and I don't recall ever looking at my "spot on the wall" that way.   

I could not see her face. 
She sat at the table full of twenty-somethings, in front of me.
She had that long, straight, shiny, flowing, auburn colored hair that any girl would die for.
The more that he focused on her, the more that she played with her hair.
Tossing it, twisting it, pulling it up, pulling it to one side - flirting with it.


       I am in my forties, and very happy with who I am.

I like my hair ENOUGH.

I like my face ENOUGH.

I like my body ENOUGH.

And yes, this is all about PHYSICAL BEAUTY
(for those of you who are about to accuse me of jeopardizing the progress of women's lib).  

As a female, however, I don't think you ever stop having that feeling
     where you are like,

     because NO ONE DESERVES to have THAT hair AND a pretty face!!!"    

As well as,

"Excuse me, Mr. Comedian?  HELLO!!! There are other people in this room to look at!!!
     Not just the girl with the pretty hair!!!"

I joke about this but, in actuality, it DID bother me.
He was SO focused on her, that he should have just asked the rest of us to leave,
     and offered her a private show. 
By the end, I was just annoyed with him, and happy that it was over with.

When I went to the bathroom, after the show, "the girl with the hair" was in line.

And yes, she also had a face.

Her face was beautiful.    

Part of me could not blame the poor guy for being cast over her spell.

The reality is that, when I walked away at the end of the evening,
I could not remember a damn joke he told,
     but I could remember "the girl with the hair".  

Friday, February 18, 2011


As I stared down the drive from the house I once lived in,
     there they stood.

We were never close. 
We had nothing in common. 
While the woman on the left was nice “enough”, the woman on the right (the “Christian" one) would never wave back when I drove by, and that bothered me. 
If one person waves to another, how difficult is it to lift up your hand and reciprocate? 

When I left, I did not tell the neighbors.
Over time, I would imagine they figured things out on their own,
however, I doubt they know the entire story. 
I am sure their imaginations created whatever they wanted the story to be.

Normally, when I drop the kids off, the long driveway full of houses is quiet. 
Just as when I lived there, everyone keeps to themselves. 
On this particular day, however, when I dropped off my oldest son,
the two neighbors below were outside talking. 

As I reentered my car, I could see them staring up at me, full of anger and judgement.
How I loathed the fact that I had to drive past them. 
That part of me that has still not completely let go of some of the paranoia that comes with making this kind of life-changing decision ………..wondered what they were thinking and saying.    

But, why?

They did not know me before.  They do not know me now. 

Having no expectations, I put the car into drive,
and slowly coasted my way down the hill.   
Surprisingly, they both waved. 
Even the woman on the right. 

     “Huh,” I thought, as I slowly drove past.    

They had both been left by their husbands, one way or the other.
Their children, grown up and out of the nest, they looked swallowed up by their lives.      

Maybe, what I thought was anger and judgement on their faces, was something else, altogether. 
And, maybe, it had nothing to do with ME.       

As I left them in my rear view mirror, I continued to drive forward, into my life,
     leaving them behind in their giant, lonely houses.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Charlie, Gone Missing

Because my yard is not fenced in,
      I have one of those "screw in the ground" dog leashes
that allows my dog, Charlie, to explore the outside world, unscathed.    

One recent morning, I let him outside (as I always do),and went about my business,
     tending to various tasks around the house.

Normally, I check up on him every few minutes or so, to see if he is ready to come in.

I don't know if it was the laundry, the current writing project I was working on,
     or the unusual amount of phone calls I received,
but something distracted me from checking on him sooner than I did.

I was in my bedroom, when I realized that he had been out there for a good twenty or thirty minutes,
and when I looked out the window, I could not see him attached to the end of the leash.

I went to the back door, and sure enough..........................he was gone.

I immediately felt that panic set in, like when you turn around, and your child is missing.  

As I quickly scrounged up some shoes, two thoughts went through my head:

     1) Someone stole him.

     2) I did not properly hook him up to the leash, and he simply wandered away.   

My common sense told me it was the latter of the two. 

Either way, HE WAS MISSING.    

I started my search in the back yard, and made my way towards the front. 

     "Charlie!"  I called out.  "Char-lie!"

I didn't hear a thing.

At the same moment that I imagined my search lasting for HOURS, and deep into the neighborhood,
     out of the corner of my eye, I caught a furry image. 

I turned to my left, and there he was, futzing around in my neighbor's front yard. 

He looked at me, tail wagging, eyes bright, as if to say,
     "What's up?  It's a beautiful day, isn't it?"


I scooped him up and brought him inside, hugging him, all the while. 

Later that day, Charlie and I went on a nice, long walk.

And, the following morning, I made sure his leash was latched on properly, 
     and did not let him out of my sight. 

I just LOVE a happy ending. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Chocolate Shop

Creamy, dreamy, sweet, delightful, decadent, sinful, melt in your mouth, smile on your face,
     sigh of pleasure.....................................


At a nearby mall, there is a Godiva Chocolate Shop.

Whenever I visit, I am always sure to stop by and pick up my free "sample of the month".

I happened to be at the mall with my son, yesterday (Valentine's Day), 
     and it was ESPECIALLY tempting to do so.   

In my mind (in my dreams, in my fantasies),
     I was there for the chocolate covered strawberries
          - a favorite of mine and my kids.  

But, there was a forty-five minute wait, AND a waiting list for those juicy red fruits,
so I went with Plan B -
     create a box of chocolates from the mouth-watering selection,
enticingly displayed behind the glass.

Ohhhhhhh,  the choices.

As I waited for my turn, the gentleman before me carefully made his selections,
     pointing to this one, and that one; that one, and this.

It was just as enjoyable for me to be part of his moment, as it was for me to imagine my own.

     "THAT one is really good," I commented,
                                      when he chose the one with gooey, tart, key lime filling.

     "I'll have TWO of those, " he said,
                                      as he smiled and thanked me for my contribution. 

The sales clerk plucked each "chosen one" off the display shelves, and placed them in a gold box.

Then, he folded it shut (tucking them in), and tied it up with a perfectly red bow. 

My moment had arrived.  

     "We'll take this one, and that one;  that one, and this.  Three of these, and one of those. 
       The one with the nuts; the french vanilla. Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, solid, cream filled."

The sales clerk plucked each "chosen one" off the display shelves, and placed them in a gold box.

Then, he folded it shut (tucking them in), and tied it up with a perfectly red bow. 

With our box of chocolates in hand, my son and I walked away happy.    

And, I don't know about him, but for about fifteen joyful minutes,
      I felt like a kid in a candy shop.    


Friday, February 11, 2011

Morning Commute

I find "driving behavior" fascinating.

I think of those wildlife channels, where the camera captures wild animals in their natural habitat.

The narrator might say something like (imagine the voice of  James Earl Jones),

     " In an effort to show dominance in the pack, he displays intimidating behavior, keeping the others in their place..............................behind him."

Many a morning, after dropping the kids off at school,
     I drive down a large, heavily traveled strip of road.

When I reach the top of the hill, the road opens up from two lanes into three.  

The catch, however, is that third lane eventually turns into a "right turn only" lane.

Because my intention is to take that right turn, 
     I immediately take advantage of the extra lane.

The moment that happens is like a euphoria.


It's like using your fastpass to move to the front of the line at Disney World. 

The MINUTE that I merge into that right lane, HOWEVER,
     one or two others (sometimes three or four) will predictably "SLIDE" over in front of me,
which is the polite way of saying "CUTTING ME OFF".  

And, predictably, I KNOW that they are not going to make that right turn.

I KNOW they are going to ride up that lane as far as they can,
     then cut back over into the left lane.

Many times, they will come to a complete stop.

They are, however, considerate enough to put their left turn signals on,

They do this because that's what they think I'M doing.

They think I am in that lane for the same reason,
     and they must not let anyone else in the pack move ahead of them.

That's when I put my right turn signal on,
      and if my turn signal could talk, it would say,


I used to show my displeasure by honking or (even more intimidating)  . . . . .

I can look pretty scary that time of the morning.

All the while,
     I'm fantasizing about some police officer showing up to give them a


The reality is that the people ignore me and the police officer never shows up.

Now, I just sit back and smirk at the predictable behavior every morning,
     and when those cars merge back over to the left lane
to join the rest of the bumper-to-bumper traffic,
     I make my right turn, and breeze my way through the rest of my commute home,

where I am the dominant leader of the pack. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Little Italy, Part II

     As we stepped forward to reach for the door handle,

a YOUNG ITALIAN MAN appeared out of nowhere,

opening the door, as he waived his welcoming hand out, guiding us through the doorway. 

He then rushed over to show us to our table, seemingly proud of the "catch" he just made. 

The cozy room where we sat consisted of no more than ten tables,

and felt like we had just walked into momma's Italian kitchen. 

The walls were covered in autographed photos of celebrities

who had frequented the restaurant, over the years. 

Some of them dating back quite a ways.         

When the waiter came over to our table, I asked,

     "What type of wine do you have?"

     "Red and white," he responded. 

One type of red.  One type of white. 

     "Red, it is," I stated.

He opened an over-sized bottle of red, poured us each a glass, and left it sitting on the table.

My friend and I ordered the spaghetti and meatballs, with an extra plate to share.

The wine was........................mediocre, at best. 

The kind of wine that can only taste better with each glass, and dirt cheap.

Little did we know, we would be spending HOURS there, and drinking MANY glasses.

For, as we were eating our meal, which tasted as good as I had hoped,

the owner of the restaurant made an unexpected announcement,

directing our attention toward the window front table of mafia lookalikes.

In fact, if my memory serves me correctly

(although, now, looking back on it, it seems more like a dream),

out of nowhere, a spotlight shined down on the subjects.

     "Do you have ANY idea whose presence you are dining with this evening?" he boasted.

     "Television series, Sopranos, Martin Scorsese movie, Casino, and many others," he continued on.

And then, he announced,

     "Vinny Vella!"

Claps and cheers erupted from the customers and restaurant staff. 

     "There really IS an actor from The Sopranos sitting at that table!" I said to my friend and laughed.

The evening had only just begun.   

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Little Italy, Part I

My friend and I walked up and down Little Italy, in New York City,

perusing the multitude of Italian restaurants, trying to distinguish one, from the other.
This was not left up to our leisure, however,

as each time we took a step toward a menu to take a glance, we would hear,
      "Ciao, Bella.  You want to come for dinner?" 

Out of the shadows, a "suave" Italian young man would appear,

one restaurant after the other,

trying to seduce us with promises of culinary bliss. 

By the time we reached the end of one side of the street,

I felt the need to take a long, hot shower,

and was tempted to change my palate and detour to China Town,

 where the dinner specials were displayed (literally) hanging in the windows. 

     I had come for Italian food, though,

so we crossed the street and bravely walked back up the other side.

     "Ciao, Bella!" said the fetcher (as I like to call them),

as it is their job to "go fetch the customers".

This one was cockier than all the rest.

His "sales pitch" was that his restaurant was better than all the rest,

so he makes no excuses for his prices and promises us no free coffee or desserts (like the others).

Inside, the tables were full of people, and it had that trendy, downtown appeal

 that would impress many a passersby (especially tourists),

but that was not what I was looking for. 

Like most things in my life, I know what I DON'T want,

but I don't know what I DO want until I stumble upon it. 

     And, then I did. 

Inside, it was brightly lit, and anything but elegant. 

Red, checkered table cloths and and chairs that looked like they had a few stories to tell.

By the front window, gathered around a table,

were a bunch of displaced characters pulled straight out of

the televisions series, The Sopranos. 

THIS was the place that I was going to get a good plate of spaghetti and meatballs.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Here it is, Thursday,
     and I haven't written anything substantial since last..........................Thursday.

And, it is not because of the lack of writing material.

Quite the opposite, really. 

I recently spent four days at a conference in New York City
      for SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators).

I am still in awe of the amount of talented writers and artists that filled that room,
     in that hotel. 

In fact, I am .............................speechless. 

The conference, alone, was amazing. 

Did I mention that it was in New York City?
Authors, illustrators, actors, actresses, comedians, musicians, shows (both on and off the stage), interesting people, interesting sights, food, food, food, the subway, taxi rides, the subway, tall buildings, the subway, "I think I saw a rat", lights, honking horns, sirens, snow, snirt (piles of snow with dirt), eating dinner with the mafia, man clearing snot out of nose onto pavement . . . . .
So many stories to tell!
And, quite honestly, life and a bad cold have kept me busy, since I've been home.  The stories will come, though.  Like waiting for the Subway or a New York Taxi Cab..................or a publisher to sign my book (hmmmmm),     
     the stories will come.....................soon.