Date Night

Every Thursday night, my husband and I go out to dinner.

I don’t remember when or how it started. Our kids got older. Weekends were busy with family and friend stuff. But Thursday was a “free” day to sneak in a date night. Before Covid when I was still commuting, it was also the last day of my commute. Friday I worked from home and didn’t have the 5:30 am alarm (remember commuting? I kinda miss it. Just a little)

Sometimes we go fancy, but more times we keep it low key. I put on some make-up and he wears his dress crocs (yes).

Sometimes we go with other people, double date night!

Where we go depends on weather, mood, and our last good meal. We’ve been known to go to the same place for months if things go well. Sometimes we go locally, sometimes we go far. A lot of couples go out to try new places, try new food. That’s not a priority for us.

Before Covid our favorite way to have Thursday date night was to sit at the bar for dinner. Yes, we are those people.

Once or twice a year we make it an overnight and sneak into New York City. Treat ourselves to a hotel.

Unless we’re sick, the rule is you can’t miss it. Does it have to be magical? Hells no.

We’ve had plenty of good fights on date night. Lots of driving home in silence. But guess what? It’s fine. We can try again next week.

Sometimes we talk about work or kids or family. Sometimes we talk about money or vacations or bills. Most often we talk about the day. We keep it light. This isn’t the night to solve major problems or make big decisions.

When things started shutting down last March, our date nights came to an abrupt halt. We spent the next few months eating at home and sheltering in. Which was nice too. Then, in early summer, things started slowly opening up. We were back in business… kind of. But it was better than nothing.

This pic is one of our earliest dates. Look at those young, care-free kids with the good hair.

Here’s the years since…

Pre-masks!

Why does be make faces?? I dunno. That’s for another post.

I’m a poet, you just didn’t know it

Goodbye Christmas lights and holiday sights.

Goodbye cookie baking and prime rib making.

Goodbye gift buying and bow-tying.

Goodbye White Russians for lunch, I really loved you a bunch.

Goodbye to my Santa mask, which was really up to the task, It made people smile and kept me safe all the while.

New Year’s Eve was so fun, I love a good Cosmo clearly. Thank goodness for our pod, I love them all dearly.

Resolutions were made and good wishes shared. We brought in the new year with people that cared.

So here we are in the new year, and it’s not that great so far, I fear

But I’m still thankful and full of hope, see sometimes it comes in handy to be a silly dope

So let’s keep our friends close and our naysayers at bay, and make sure you do something good for someone else today.

Things will get better, they always do, but even without the news, it’s easy to be blue.

So thank you Netflix, Hulu and HBO Max too, Bridgeton and Cobra Kai will help get me through.

So I’m sending you love and hugs Covid style, I hope this little ditty helped make you smile 😊

Vacation me

I’m off work for a few days, and it’s magic!

This week… from Christmas to New Years is amazing. A black hole of nothingness.

Why didn’t anyone tell me how great this was??

Vacation me is such a gem. She’s relaxed, and happy and almost light hearted! Almost.

I mean this isn’t my first time off this year. I took a week in July but that was different. Other people were working and I was still checking emails. Still working from the side of my vacation.

But this week. This magical week. No emails, no missed meetings, no nothing.

Listen – in general I’m not saving lives at work. What I do day to day in no way impacts the world. It should be no surprise that me not doing the work is totally inconsequential. It’s a non-event. And I couldn’t be happier.

Vacation me is mellow. Most likely because vacation me day drinks, but who’s judging?

No alarms. No schedules. Thanks to Covid no plans at all.

In the past I’d have to figure out how to visit family and friends – but not this year. Nope. Vacation me and pandemic me are a perfect match.

Am I cooking big family meals? Nope! I’m saving restaurants by not cooking and only ordering in. You’re welcome!

Am I schlepping to my relatives houses and dragging my kids along? Nope! I’m saving lives by not seeing anyone, including my own kids. Kidding.

Vacation me is so funny. Not a care in the world. Well that’s a lie, but you know what I mean.

I hope you’re taking time off. I hope your heart is getting lighter. I hope you are letting go of all the crap 2020 laid on us. It’s not easy, I know. Do what I do. Take a deep, slow breath and exhale it all out.

Vacation me has all the answers.

Vacation me thinks all will be well.

Let’s go with that. Xoxo

Winter whine

I’ve been off work for a few glorious days. I hope you’re taking some time for yourself too. It’s been great.

I started rewatching a lot of videos from my favorite self-helpie stars. Gary V, Simon Sinek, Brene Brown and even a little Tony Robins for old times sake. I’ve been desperate for positivity and optimism. My new favorite is Tabitha Brown (that’s yo bizzzness).

I love reading and watching their pithy, no nonsense advice. I can feel myself getting smarter and more zen by the minute. It’s great. Check them out if you haven’t already.

But this isn’t an appreciation post. This is a complaint.

Yes… I spent vacation getting enlightened and I’ve got some issues. Ok just one issue.

Each of them has a quote or a video or an article on why you shouldn’t expect things from others. The basic lesson is that the reason you’re (I’m) let down is because of the expectations set for those around us. Stop doing it they say. You’ll be happier they say. You’ll find it easier to get along with people.

Well duh.

Sooooo I’m not supposed to expect anything from you? Or you? Or me?

Fuuuuuucccckkk that.

Excuse my French.

Here’s the thing. I expect a lot from myself. I expect kindness, and patience, and tolerance, forgiveness, and so much more. I expect shit from myself. I am not allowed just to be my sloth-like, bitter self. No sir. You deserve better from me. And I know it!

So why oh why can’t I expect shit from you??

I don’t want to go around wanting nothing from people. That’s what I was taught growing up. It was MY job to make things right. It was MY job to make sure people felt good. And I was up for the task. I worked hard at all my expectations. I did done good.

But after all that I feel very comfortable saying that I expect shit from people. I just do. You don’t get a free pass. Ok, maybe you did for 20 odd years while I came to terms with the fact that I deserve what I give. All of it. And if I don’t get it? Well, bye girl. On to the next one.

This notion that we shouldn’t hold others to standards and aspirations is bonkers.

I’m not crazy. I know not everyone is thinking and acting like me. That’s fine. I’ll keep doing me. But I can limit the exposure I have to people who choose to not give a shit about me or the ones l love. I don’t have to eat their selfishness. I can bucket it. Give it the two or three minutes it deserves and move on.

There are people in my life that hold themselves to the same standards – sometimes higher! There are people in my life I aspire to be. That’s what I want.

I do not want to be complicit in this idea that I can’t demand the people around me be kind, and tolerant, and patient and demanding.

Why can’t we expect things from people? Why can’t we want to be treated and loved as we treat and love?

I’m no longer interested in passive, vapid relationships. I did that for a long time. Cause I’m nice. And I don’t want to hurt your feelings. And I’m a coward. Let’s be honest. I’m a chicken shit and I don’t like to make trouble.

But trouble is real. And if I’m real, I can admit that I expect things from you.

By the way, I’m not talking about birthday cards and phone calls. I’m horrible at both.

I have friends I don’t talk to often, some that I haven’t talked to in years. But they send a quick note if they hear things are bad.. or good. I get a text or an IM with a good wish. I try to do the same. Is it mandatory? No. Is it something I want in a friend? Yep.

I also have friends I talk to daily. My expectations of them are totally off the charts! Different than the folks I just text once a year. But I want them to hold me to a standard too. That’s how it should be.

What is this free-flowing, expect nothing relationship that’s so great for us? It’s a hoax. Doesn’t exist.

Everything isn’t easy. Everything isn’t a meme or a tweet. Real things require commitment. Require bending. It’s ok. It doesn’t mean you are losing or somehow inferior.

Expectations aren’t negative shackles – they are goal posts. There’s nothing wrong with wanting more, from people, from situations, and from yourself.

You’re not a delicate flower. And the people around you aren’t either.

I’m sorry Brene, and Simon and Gary. I love you all but I’m not buying the whole “expect nothing and never be disappointed” vibe.

I’d rather be disappointed than dead inside.

Be angry at the right people

I’m no therapist. I don’t even play one on TV. It’s also very likely that I actually need a therapist. But I do try to be self aware and aware of others. It doesn’t always work. There are many times I walk away from someone or a situation and I’m not proud. I try hard when I feel a sense of injustice or anger to take a moment to think through what’s happening.

In the past few weeks I’ve noticed a lot of angry interactions. I’m sure you have to. I’m not talking about road rage (which I don’t get, if you want to pass me – please pass me. I hope you win the invisible race you’re in with yourself). I’m talking about those small, bickering, biting conversations that happen at the customer service counter, or the register, or at the restaurant (when we were allowed in).

Here’s some scenarios I’m talking about:

You see your waitress running around trying to cover twice as many tables as usual and you’re upset you’re coffee wasn’t refilled. You qualified for a free turkey but never picked it up, now you want the store to make good – weeks later – even though the program expired. Or you’re on the phone with a customer representative in Taiwan or India trying to fix your cell phone charges and you’re having trouble with the language barrier.

You start slowly getting upset. You feel like you’re being ignored at the restaurant. You feel like the grocery store you spend hundreds of dollars in every week should treat you better. You are so frustrated that you have a problem and on top of everything you’re dealing with, now there are translation issues. So what do you do?

Do you say something snarky to the waitress when she finally comes to the table, or the cashier at the store, or do you blow-up on the representative on the phone? I know I’ve done all 3. I’m sure you have too.

Here’s the new game I try and play in my head. Every time a person in a situation frustrates me I think,” is this the person I should really be mad at?”

The answer, almost all of the time, is no. Now I’m not talking about “redirected” anger or some other clinical stuff I know nothing about. If you have daddy issues and you’re yelling at pedestrians, this post isn’t about you. I’m just talking about normal, everyday pissy behavior.

And to that point, I guess this post should really be about not getting angry at all. We should be preaching peace on earth and forgiveness, etc. Which is right – and I’m into it. But I’m also into getting yourself worked up sometimes. It’s ok. It’s good for you.

I didn’t grow up thinking that. No, we had a very quiet, let-the-anger-simmer-underneath house. Not a lot of yelling. But don’t worry – what we lacked in shouting, we made up for in passive aggressive dinners.

Maybe many of you grew up in yelling houses. Where there were big, loud fights all the time. Maybe that’s better? Who knows. Or maybe there’s a happy middle. Not the underground buried anger – but also not the hot volcano of doom. A medium, appropriate amount of rage for every situation. I dunno.

This has been a trying year for many reasons. The least we can do is forgive ourselves for losing our shit every once in a while. I’m just asking you to direct it at the right people.

If the restaurant isn’t staffed right, that’s the manager or owners fault. If you don’t want to complain to them – you should pick another place to eat. The grocery store cashier has rules he/she was told to follow. You arguing at the register is a waste of time. And for gods sakes don’t go to customer service. They can’t help you change the system Norma Rae, calm down! Ask for a store manager and move aside so the rest of us can pay and get out.

And then there’s my all time favorite. If you are upset at the 20 year old call center rep, in some third world country, who is probably working 15 hours a day for 1% of minimum wage in this country and considers the job a blessing – you are angry at the wrong person! This young man or woman didn’t steal a job from anyone. They were given a golden ticket to get out of poverty in their country by a corporation that did not want to pay a living wage in the US. Find the CEO of that company, probably playing golf in Florida or Arizona, and be upset with them. Or at the very least, just ask to speak to the most senior person they can get you to.

I sound like I’m a cool cucumber all the time. Lie! Not true. I’ve been so mean to phone reps they’ve hung up on me. And what did that get me? Nada. Nothing.

I know people who ask for a manager are now called Karen’s. I fully own up to being a Karen sometimes. And I also know most people, like my family, would rather eat nails than make a fuss anywhere. But sometimes you have to, and it’s ok. It’s ok to be want something fixed. It’s ok to want things done the right way. That shouldn’t make you a Karen. But the how and who matter.

Thank the waitress who is overwhelmed. Thank the cashier who bagged your groceries. Be kind to people trying to make a small living. If they are annoyed, if they are iterated, it’s because they are in this with you. Not against you.

Now go get your free turkey Karen, you earned it.

2011 in 2020

Way back in 1995, we were gifted a very special ornament from a Pier One collection called Li Bien. These are hand painted from the inside (which is what li bien means in Chinese, from the inside) and each one has the year on it.

This started a tradition. Our first tradition ever.

And a collection. Every year since then we are gifted another one. Sometimes two. I love them. I have dreams of my kids taking them to their homes. And the packaging! For me it’s all about the packaging. These little beauties come in a velvet box.

This year, since we’re all trapped at home together, the kids and my husband helped me decorate the tree. A job that usually takes me 2 hours was done in 15 minutes. Mostly because the crew wanted it over and done with. Still counts as family time right?

As we were unpacking the ornaments, I was telling the kids – for the millionith time – about how much these mean to me etc. I was also telling my 17 year old son who is all arms and legs to be gentle, delicate. As I said this, I went and dropped an ornament. A Le Bien ornament. 2011 to be exact.

I was devastated. I wanted to throw-up.

I know there are bigger things to be upset about. I tried to pretend it was ok. My husband, who is usually one to make a big joke out of a mistake like that, stayed silent. He knew.

I took a deep breath and shook it off. It’s just our ONLY yearly tradition. No biggie. It’s just the ONE thing we have that connects us to family through time and space. It’s fine.

Cut to last night. When my husband brought in this little gem.

He went on Ebay, found the old ornament, and got it for me.

And I cried.

When people ask me how it’s possible that I married someone I met at 19 and never looked back – it’s because of this story. And a hundred others like it.

He knows me, from the inside.

Gobbled 2020

Happy Sunday night! I hope you all had a good/weird Thanksgiving. Doesn’t it feel like it was a year ago? Tomorrow it’s back to work. Which isn’t so bad, but it’s not as good as sleeping, let’s be honest.

You know that line from Elf? The one where he says, “smiling is my favorite.” Well for me, sleeping is my favorite. Oh I love it so much. My bed. My pillow. My very unsexy pjs. Love it all.

Two friends of mine both just recently recommended CBD to me. Independently. They just started taking it at night and now they sleep like a baby. Lucky for me, I’ve always been a big baby. No sleep issues here.

I’m always worried when I hear that excessive sleeping is a sign of depression. I mean… what’s excessive? That’s a very broad word. Like when they say, “that’s an excessive amount of wine.” Tomato, tOEmato.

This blog wasn’t supposed to be about sleeping. I digressed.

Anyway, our turkey day was great – I started it by digging into the apple pie, which I had with my morning coffee watching the Macy’s Parade (sad spectacle). I decided since it was 2020 and we need to do literally anything to makes ourselves happy right now, that I could cut right into the store bought pie with no feelings of guilt or weirdness. I was wrong ofcourse. Guilt and weirdness are like my home-base. I end up there whether I like it or not. Pie was still delicious.

The rest of the day was a blur of activity – not as quiet as I thought it would be. But Kera and I squeezed in a walk. We live in one of the most beautiful parts of the country, Bucks County. It’s got the best of all worlds all around it. Philadelphia, New York City, the beach and everything in between. You wanna go to Target, go left. You wanna go to the Delaware Canal, go right. It’s amazing. So we walked. Never in a million years – pre-covid years – could I take a walk on Thanksgiving day. So I guess thanks Covid? It was great.

It was just the four of us that night at dinner but it felt full and complete. I missed our other family, but sitting at a candle lit table with just our little humans was just as good. Food wise? Let’s see – I ran out of turkey for reasons to be explained at another time. The mac and cheese and stuffing both were over cooked and dried out. But my husband crunched his way through dinner and the kids were sweet about it. It’s fine. It wasn’t our last meal.

I hope you had a good day and a good weekend. Now, it’s time to take some CBD, have a piece of pie or give yourself a heavy pour of vino. This holiday is a wrap, but no worries, there’s another one right around the corner.

Goodnight.

East Should Not Meet West!

STOP THE MADNESS! Somewhere I think Sophia Loren is turning in her grave.

I know, I know – lots of things wrong with that statement. First of all, Sofia Loren isn’t dead. But you know she would be horrified. Second of all, stop the madness!

Turmeric is good. Agreed. Not arguing that. Before all the “woke” people in the world found it, my parents were pushing it like they were herbal pimps. It played a huge part in my life – just ask the drawer full of stained Tupperware in mom’s house.

But why… WHY…do we have to go off the deep end??

Pasta with turmeric?? Who is this for? Are there pasta lovers that refuse to eat foods that normally have turmeric?? They can’t just have chicken tikka masala once a month like normal people? What’s next? Pasta with adobo? Pasta with sumac?

Please. Stop mixing shit up. Leave something alone…I’m begging you! You know what I expect from my box of 99 cent Ronzoni? Literally nothing. I expect no nutrients. I expect mostly empty carb calories. It’s fine. Leave. It. Alone. Go ruin something else.

Pandemic schmandemic

When this first started it was scary and jolting and downright horror movie-like. Many things about 2020 still are. Hundreds of thousands of people dead, businesses shuttered, jobs lost, all awful. I know it’s serious. I am not making light of that at all. I know this is no joking matter…but humor is how I deal. If I’m not laughing, I’m crying. Which I think is the definition of a psycho or a clown. I’m one of those for sure. Or both.

Anyway there were/are some small, happy turn of events in all this madness. Things that were little spots of joy, and I’m not talking about sourdough starters.

1) Plans got cancelled. Really important things got cancelled like weddings and birthdays and baby showers – which is awful. But I have to be honest. I was overextended. Weekends booked for months on out, a calendar full of plans (all good stuff). It simply evaporated. Poof. Gone. Once I got over the initial sting, it was all ok. There was no FOMO (fear of missing out) because nothing was happening. We were all finally in the same boat. Home. Isolated. I know it wasn’t good for everyone. I know I was lucky to be baking and cooking and puzzling, while others struggled. I do know that. I’m just so grateful for my time. It was surreal and odd, but also kinda great.

2) Masks are fine with me. I’m gonna tell you a secret. People are fucking disgusting. They snort, they sneeze, they walk around with pneumonia with not a care in the world. People are DIRTY. They just are. I know, I know, not you! Never you! But other people. They don’t wash their hands. They don’t cover their mouths. They are walking geysers of germs. Exploding at every turn. We needed a good dose of hand sanitizer in our lives. Some more than others.

3) Outdoor restaurants with people seated 6 feet away from you. Genius! Let’s never go back! I never want to be in a packed bar or restaurant again. Ever. I want all of them to do well but I don’t want to ever feel like a sardine again. No reservation, no service? I’m in!

4) Teens and kids with minimal places to go. I don’t know about you, but my family had more family meals together in March and April then we’ve had for years! Sometimes we had MULTIPLE meals together at the table. WTF!

5) Office time productivity was always a scam. Someone put that on a pillow. We never needed to commute!! Grrrrr! All those hours on the train for what? So we could be in person for meetings that should have been emails?? Or commute in so you could sit at your desk on calls all day? As god is my witness I’m never doing that again… I mean until they make me…then of course I’ll do it again.

6) We cooked. A lot. I love to cook but this much cooking was next level. And we baked. And by “we”’I don’t mean my family. I mean me and the collective universe. We cooked and baked a lot. I think I made 1 million egg sandwiches. I also made eggplant bolognese, Thanksgiving turkey in April, cookies, cakes, and on and on. Not all of it was good, r.i.p vegetarian matzo ball soup, but most was. Just ask my pre-Covid pants.

7) Pods!! Pods!! We have a pod. A group of people who we have been lucky enough to live next to that has saved our sanity! We are safe. We don’t travel. We wear masks. It’s not perfect but it’s kept me happy. Backyard get togethers, front yard get togethers… thank goodness for these times with friends who became family.

When this comes to an end (come on vaccine!) I hope we continue some pandemic traditions. Not too many people in the store, zoom calls from near and far, free weekends, and disinfectant everywhere… that was enjoyable.

What helped you? What got you through? I’d love to know. We are almost there…

Scenes from a pandemic…

One of 8 puzzles we did March – May
Zoom, zoom, zoom
Masks on! They love it when I show people this pic
Pod!
Food for the pod !
Dessert for the pod!

Always go to bed angry and other sage pieces of advice

I met my husband when I was 19. It was my 3rd week at college. I had just had cream cheese for the first time in my life the week before (true story, on a NYC bagel). It was a good month. We started dating and married a year after I graduated.

To say we were unprepared was and is an understatement. This was pre-internet and pre-therapy being a cool thing. We were on our own. All I had was Cosmo magazine and Oprah to help me.

My husband and I are opposites. Two very different people. Like super different. I’m glass half full, he’s glass… someone stole his glass! I usually think things are going to work out, and he routinely plans for disaster.

When we first got together, we fought all the time. It was nuts. And I read all the magazines and did all the quizzes. He’s a Cancer, I’m a Gemini – it’ll never work out! He’s emotional, I’m abrupt – it’ll never work out! I’d listen to all the couples on Oprah and all the advice Dr. Phil (before he was Dr. Phil) would dish out. I tried it all. I made him try it all. Some of it worked. Most didn’t.

Know what works for us? Going to bed pissed. Yes. If you’re having a huge fight and you’re at your wits end – go to bed! It’s fine. Sometimes we go to bed pissed for like 2 nights – maybe 3. It’s ok. Tensions ease. We slowly forget what we were so passionate about. Not everything can or needs to be resolved all the time. There are many arguments that have been forgotten rather than resolved. I’m no therapist, and I’m guessing some crap will come back to haunt us and it’s probably not healthy – but you aren’t here for health right? Anyway try it – it’s worked for us for 28 years and counting. Instead of counting sheep, count grievances. Lol.

Here’s something else. Ours is not a 50/50 relationship. It never was. It never will be. We are not equal partners. Now, before you lose your undies over that statement let me explain. I’m not talking just about money. And I’m certainly not talking about someone being subservient or less than. I’m talking about ebbs and flows of a long relationship where one person bares the brunt of what it takes to keep us going. It can be emotional. And it can be physical. After I had my daughter, at a very young age, I fell into what I thought was a funk. But now I know that it was postpartum depression. Nothing too serious but I was having a moment… a moment that lasted about 7 months. I was lonely in New York City, where most gals my age were still single and partying. I had just decide to quit my job and stay home full time, which was such a luxury but only added to my isolation. During that time I was useless. I took care of our baby girl but nothing else. No laundry. No cooking. Nothing. He did it all. He worked. He paid all the bills, shopped for grocery’s etc. He let me get through it. When I had my son 5 years later, I quit my job again and stayed home. This time I was full of energy and creativity and decided to start my own wedding planning company. He was commuting 2 hours a day to a job he hated, but he let me do it. We begged and borrowed help with the kids and I planned weddings. We have never ever “counted” who does what. Who makes what. Who did what. We don’t do it because it’s not even-steven. We don’t do it because there will always be a winner and a loser. It’s certainly not fair, but who said it would be?

One more … we do a lot of stuff without each other, or we used to atleast – before Covid. Now we’re attached at the hip, god help us. In all seriousness we have never been a couple that couldn’t do things alone. Part of this is that my job involves travel – or it used to. Beautiful, solitary, airport-bar filled travel. He’s used to me being away and I’m used to me being away too. Absence and hotel rooms make a heart grow fonder. It’s true.

We are still a work in progress. Still have lots to figure out. I’m not gonna lie, it was and is hard. But there was a no escape route. We never had one and we never wanted one. We may be very different in many ways, but the fundamental things we are totally agreed on. How we want to live. Who we want around us. What we want for our kids. There’s never been confusion there. Here’s something else we’ve known since day one, he is my person and I am his. I’m the lid to his pot. The cream cheese to his NYC bagel.

Not following advice since circa 1991

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