Saturday, May 28, 2011

Wake-up Call

I awaken to a Saturday morning, but not on my own. 

There is a distant noise. 

Half awake, I try to identify the sound.

Muffled voices, coming from the other side of the wall.  

My kids are with their dad, so it must be my son's alarm radio.   

Too lazy to get up and turn it off.

From downstairs, I hear a "Beep, beep!"

Fast, repetitive - high pitched. 

The Elliptical, reminding me that I did not use it yesterday.      

     "Beep, beep!"

There it goes again.

     "Time to exercise," it is saying.   

The radio is still making noise.

Technology is telling me to get up. 

Saturday morning, or not. 

Friday, May 27, 2011


Can it possibly be FRIDAY?  A week, since the last time I posted a story?

As a good friend of mine likes to say,

     "Indeed it is."

A lot has happened this week.

Over the last several days, 
     I have had the opportunity to spend time with two star athletes and their families (and pets).

Karen Dickerson (long distance runner), and David Curtin (Golfer),
     will be representing Team USA in Athens next month,
at the Special Olympics World Summer Games.  

Although, I did not have the opportunity to swing a golf club with David,
     I did lace up my running shoes for Karen, and ran two laps around my former high school track.

(My legs hurt, two days later, but it was worth it.)  

I spent a good part of today writing my stories, and sent them off to the editor.

Whether they end up being printed, or not, it was a truly amazing and rewarding experience.

And, I ended my week by making a couple of young entrepreneurs very happy.

As I was driving out of David's neighborhood, there were four, elementary-aged kids
( all different colors and backgrounds) yelling out,

     "50 cents!  A cup of lemonade for 50 cents!" 

I turned around at the next cross street, and pulled up in front of them. 

As my car approached, I could see the hopeful expressions on their faces,
     as they quickly moved into their positions to serve their "potential" next customer. 

When I exited the car, and began to walk toward them, their wishes had been answered.

     "Would you like some lemonade?  Pink or yellow?" one of them asked.

     "It is a beautiful day, and I would like one cup of pink lemonade, but I will pay you the price for two, "
I responded, as I handed them a dollar. 

I thought one of the little boy's eyes were going to pop out of his face.

"Thank you!" he said.  

Between the four of them, they poured the ice and pink lemonade,

and handed me the cup, saying "thank you" a million times over.  

As I walked toward my car, I thought about meeting Karen,

and David, their wonderful families (and pets), and the enthusiastic, hard working lemonade stand workers,

and I drank down possibly the most delicious, most satisfying cup of lemonade I have EVER tasted. 

Quite a week, indeed. 


Friday, May 20, 2011

Steaks Can Give You Nightmares

Do NOT watch the Food Network channel before you go to bed.

Last night, just before taking my glasses off and setting them on the nightstand,

     and just as my eyelids were beginning to feel the weight of the long day,

a handful of chefs on the Food Network were busy cooking. 

The competition was on to see who could grill the best steak,
     and it was serious business. 

Soon after, I woke up in a panic from a terrible nightmare. 

As with most dreams, the details are a bit fuzzy, but I remember the most important parts. 

I walked into a room full of STEAKS. 

There was one cooking on the stove, one in the oven, one on the grill,

     and one on the . . . . . . . . . . . . ironing board. 

                          YOU HEARD ME.                      IRONING BOARD.

As you can imagine, I was suddenly very stressed out. 

I was not sure where they came from, or how they got there,

     but there was no one else around,

and it was apparent that it was my responsibility to oversee these steaks.

 I bounced around, frantically, from steak to steak,

     flipping and turning, raising the heat and lowering -  

trying not  to burn anything or start any fires. 

In my fury, I knocked the hot, steak- filled pan off the ironing board. 

When I quickly reached down to pick it up,
     I realized it had landed on my DOG! 

As I lifted the hot pan off of him, the steaks were no longer important. 

My dog was in pain,

     and all I could think about was how fast I could rush him to the animal hospital.

However, I never made it there.

I woke up.

I don’t need an expert to analyze this dream and tell me what it means. 

I think it is pretty clear.

1)    I am feeling the stress of juggling too many things in my life right now.

2)    I worry about the well- being of those that I love and am responsible for.

But, most importantly  . . . . . .

       especially when the dog is lying on the floor, just below. 

And . . . . . .

             BEFORE GOING TO BED ! ! ! 

Now, if you will excuse me, I think I'll go put the ironing board away. 
It has been "standing" in my room for several weeks,
     collecting clothes.

Hmmmmmm. . .  

Maybe THAT'S the message. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Battle of Right Brain vs. Left Brain

No surprise, my writing comes from the "write" side of my brain.

Lately, my life has been demanding the use of the left
     as life's every day responsibilities tend to do - draining the energy out of the right. 

Think of it as the water pressure in your house.

Run the dishwasher, and the pressure is good.

Run the dishwasher AND take a shower, ONE of those is going to suffer.

Usually, it's the nice hot shower you were hoping for. 

Lately, I have not had a lot of hot showers,
     and any creative thought that briefly passes through my brain,
goes right down the drain. 

As a distraction, I thought I would take a 
     "Right brain vs. Left brain" Quiz.

Surprisingly, my points for left brain usage were only
                                                            2 points lower than my right.


For most of my life, the right side of my brain always felt WAY heavier
     (or lighter, depending on how you look at it).   

It surprised my highly intelligent and skeptical 17 year old daughter,
                as well.

     "Did you take one of those ONLINE quizzes?"
                                               she asked (in a suspicious tone). 
     "Yes, but it was recommended by a friend, so it MUST be legit.,"
                                           was my response, somehow feeling redeemed.

Actually, the quiz was quite simple. 

I always have difficulty with personality quizzes
                                       because they do not offer a choice "x 

         x - depends on my mood and the details of the circumstance. 

AND, I tend to over-think things,

     which is why I did not do so well on standardized tests,
                                             back in the day. 

My daughter is lucky. 

She was not blessed (or cursed) with the "over-thinking" gene,
     which has helped her not only with test taking,
but also with navigating through teenage life, and all of its drama.

I have gotten better at the "not letting myself over-think things" . . .  thing.  

It has taken YEARS of practice, however. 

Maybe that is the reason that my left brain/right brain usage
                    is more balanced than it once was.

Or, maybe I am over-thinking things.




Monday, May 16, 2011


The Sunday Outlook section of The Washington Post invited 10 writers to nominate
one "thing" to get rid of. 

They invited readers to vote, as well as send in their own suggestions for next weekend's paper. 

Unfortunately, when I went to the suggested page online,
     there was no such evidence of a place to vote, nor to send my suggestion. 

So, I am posting my story on my blog, instead.

My comical choice about what to throw out. 



I don’t remember how or when it snuck into my life.

I do, however, remember when I first noticed it. 

I was in my early twenties. 

Someone had taken a picture of me in my bathing suit, from “behind”. 

When I saw the photo, it didn’t make sense. 

Who WAS that in the photo? ? ? 

And, wearing MY BATHING SUIT ! ! !   

Someone with Orange Peel Syndrome.

Someone with Cottage Cheese "Skin".

Someone with (my personal favorite) dermopanniculosis deformans. 

In other words,

     someone with . . . . . . . . . . . .  CELLULITE ! ! ! 

 Up until that moment, I was PRET-TY happy with myself.

I could walk up and down a beach with confidence, in my bikini.

After that photo, however, I became an expert on how to hide my backside. 

I was sly and clever, using bathing suit wraps, or shorts;

     a towel, or a jacket tied around my waist.   

Anything to hide THE RIPPLE.


And, I’m not talking potato chips, although, I can see the relationship. 

  Years later, I moved on to a built-in skirt bottom. 


     They were stylish.


Not like the ones “our moms used to wear”. 

I may even be so bold as to say that I started a new trend.

Other moms at the pool asked me where I purchased my suit. 

And soon, I started seeing others.    

      Now that I’m in my forties,

my cellulite does not bother me nearly as much as my love handles (or muffin top). 

I’d like to throw them BOTH out, along with my sagging arms. 

Oh well. 

At least my sense of humor is still intact.

I think I will hold on to that, if you don’t mind. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

It was not until midweek that I realized Mother's Day was coming up the following Sunday.  

     "Can't we just skip Mother's Day this year?"  I asked my daughter.

It had been a very busy and stressful couple of weeks and,
     to be honest with you ( I am going to let you in on a little secret ) -

I am not a big fan of "Mother's Day". 



NOT because I don't love my mom . . . . . .  because I DO.

NOT because I don't love my kids . . . . . . because I DO.

I think it's because I feel that EVERY day is "Mother's Day", essentially,
     and there are good days and bad ones.   

So, what are the chances that May 8th is going to be a GOOD "Mother's Day",
     just because it is given a title on the calendar?   

On the contrary, the expectations are liable to be so high,
      that it would be nearly impossible for them to be met. 

I always try very hard to NOT have expectations on Mother's Day. 

I try to pretend that it is just another day,
     ignoring all of the sappy greeting cards and hallmark commercials.

Me:  "I can't HEAR you.  La la la la la la la!"   

Reading this, I suppose one might think that I am a cynic.   

One would be wrong. 

I am actually quite brilliant.   

You see, I think that moms should be able to choose when to celebrate
     their own "Mother's Day".

Wait until that day when the kids give you a
     spontaneous hug or thank you for cooking dinner that night (alleluia chorus).   

Wait until that day when the kids are all getting along (angels singing from above).

Wait until that day when the kids help out around the house
     WITHOUT BEING ASKED (angels singing the alleluia chorus from above).   

When all of those things happen in the same day . . . . . .

THAT is the day when you declare: 


And, for any of you who experience that type of behavior on a daily basis? 

Me:  "I can't HEAR you.  La la la la la la la!" 

Beautiful flowers from my kids. Thank you!


Thursday, May 5, 2011

24 Hours in NYC

Comments, observations, and musings
     during time spent in NYC, recently - just my two boys, and I.

We missed you, Haley, Nathan, and Lisa! 


Early morning, early train, from Union to Penn.

Noon (ish) arrival.    
Taxi ride to the hotel. 

Question:  "What language is he speaking?"

Observation:  Oh look!  Our taxi just hit a pedestrian with his side view mirror.

Observation:  Oh look!  Our taxi driver has a convenient metal cane that he uses to
     reach over and pop the side mirror back into place, while still driving.

Comment:  "I think he has done that before".

Turns out, our hotel was walking distance from the train station.

We found out after paying five and some change to go around the block.  

Skinny hallways, tiny elevators (that take too long), and too many floors.

Comment:  "This elevator smells like B.O. - Butt Odor."

Response:  "Ewwwwww!" 

The Path train to Hoboken, New Jersey to see the location of "Cake Boss."

Comment:  "This reminds me of Virginia.  I feel safe here." 

We came, we saw, we saw the line down the block,
     around the block . . . . . . and then we left (without cannoli). 


Finding the 7th floor at Macy's.

Finding the EXIT at Macy's.

Comment:   "Get me out of here!"

Comment:  "Watch out for the "perfume people" (dodging, dashing, and ducking) ! 

One casualty to some unknown fragrance.

I tried to save him, but it was too late.

Back at the hotel . . .

Why won't the door open? 

We are only on the second floor? 

Our room is on the 23rd floor.

How did THAT happen??!

Comment:  "I smell like cigarette smoke."

Response:  "I smell like perfume."  

Comment:  "A puddle may not just be a puddle."

Response:  (stepping around yellow liquid on sidewalk) "What do you mean?"  

Taxi cab horns blaring (what's new).

LOUD fire engine blaring. 

Fire engine trumps taxi cabs.

Look at them scatter.



The reason we came. 

Late night dessert, then . . . . . .


The city can stay awake without us. 


Cold, wet, rainy. 

Let's catch an earlier train home. 

Comment:  "Breakfast ended at 11:30.  It's 11:31.  Stop drinking your coffee."

"And, your train will be loading at gate number . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . "

Mad scramble to the one-person wide escalator.

Comment:  "Save yourself!  I'll meet you on the other side!"

Safe on the train. 

Found three seats together. 


Read "Night", by Elie Wiesel.

Sad.  Powerful.  Haunting.         

Back in D.C.  

An over-priced burger at Ray's Hellburger that I did not realize I ordered.

It had duck liver on top.

I did not eat the duck liver, and I could have used a beer.

But, that's ok.

I could exist without bumping into a wall or a person.

We were home, and the sun was shining. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


So, you know I like to comment about personalized license plates. 

During my time in traffic,
     I feel it is my right to use them as my own form of personal entertainment,
however way I so choose.      

Here was the sighting today -


At first, I interpreted the meaning as "Jen, Before You". 

And, that would actually be true. 

I was driving BEHIND Jen, and therefore, she was BEFORE me. 

It could also mean that Jen thinks she is more important than everyone else. 

You know the saying, "It's All About Me"? 

In this case, IT'S ALL ABOUT JEN.

Judging (and, I was judging) by the bumper stickers on her car,
     I would say that is a possibility.  

My personal favorites are the stick figures that represent each of the family members. 

She had a long line of them on her car.

It looked like this: 

Mom, Dad, Boy Child, Girl Child, Girl Child, Dog, Cat, Dog, Cat.

Notice, she put the Mom sticker FIRST.

Ah HA!    

If I had those silly stickers on my car, I would probably do the same,
     as everyone KNOWS the mom should come first . . . . . .

     BUT, I DON'T. 

Of course, there is another way to interpret the meaning of the license plate - 


While that may sound a bit like the lyrics to a Rap song, 
     it was a vanity plate with a well known Realty Company stamped on it,
so I am sure that she was trying to relate that  


Too bad I already have a realtor.

He does not have any stick figures on the back of his car.

Too bad I am, also, now stuck with a silly Rap song in my head.    



Tuesday, May 3, 2011

All Things Good and Small

When I drove up to the pick-up window at Starbucks to receive my 

( take my word for it - it's good),
the nice employee asked,

     "Would you like to try a sample of our coconut mocha frappuccino?"

He asked with such an inviting tone (plus, I love coconut), that I could not resist.  

      "Sure!" I responded.  

He handed it to me in this teeny tiny cup, with a teeny tiny straw,
     and a teeny tiny helping of whipped cream on top. 

The frapp. was delicious, and somehow, its miniature size made it that much more pleasurable. 

It reminded me of my many trips to the library with my dad, when I was young(er).   

I used to love to check out those teeny tiny books by Beatrix Potter.

They looked so cute, and somehow, magical - sitting on the shelf next to the normal sized books.

I suppose, if Starbucks had existed back then,
     I could have enjoyed reading one of them accompanied by a teeny tiny frappuccino.

Back then, we had to settle for chocolate milk.   

I do still love a good glass of chocolate milk, especially when it is accompanied by a crunchy pb & j (with potato chips in the middle), but I have not visited a library in a while.

I wonder if those tiny Beatrix Potter books still sit upon that shelf?         


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Two Short Stories

     While organizing paperwork today, I stumbled upon this slightly worn piece of paper with tattered edges, creases and folds -
     something that I wrote back in June, 2005, titled, "Observations on a Summer Day".

It was a nice diversion from my paperwork, and now I will share them with you -  

     two short stories.   


"The Trash Man"

She approached cautiously, as he worked.
His head, bent downward. 
He looked up long enough to notice . . . the girl in the car.  

He was not like the others.
There was a sweet shyness in his eyes.
For a moment, their eyes met through the glass covered windshield.

He quickly looked away - embarrassed.  

He seemed to be hiding something.

Was he running away from something?
Or, maybe he was running towards something.

She wondered.

She slowly passed by, and he looked up at her again.
He caught a smile upon her face, and wished that he hadn't.

False hopes.

Something else that he could not have.

He could see her with his eyes, yet she was a distant, blurred vision.

     "One day at a time," he told himself.  "One day at a time."

As she looked in her rear-view mirror, he placed the trashcan back on the curb.  

"The Fox"

My heart beats suddenly loud and fast, as I see her dash before me.
The sight, at first - startling.

Then, the beauty.  Then . . . . . . the beauty.

She is gone in a quick, red flash, yet the moment hangs on.

Her size, her color, the look upon her face -
     mischievous, determined,  . . . . . . content.

The sun shines brightly down upon her, capturing her spirit.

One look in my direction - nature, wild and free . . .
                                                          and then, she is gone.