I had a dream

No. Not that kind of dream. I wish I was having important, philosophical dreams of social justice and reform.

My dream was that I cleaned the kitchen. That’s right. Even in my dreams I’m cleaning the kitchen. I emptied the dishwasher. I wiped the counters. I swept the floor.

It’s not enough that this is what I do a hundred times a day in real life. Now I’m cleaning the kitchen in my dreams.

What is going on? I don’t usually remember my dreams. I’m a pretty deep sleeper. Well.. obviously not deep. Heavy sleeper.

I need to think sexier thoughts going to bed. This is just sad. I even had my favorite all-purpose solution bottle. The homemade one my husband gave me that says, Neha’s allpurpose solution. That was in my dream. It’s Mr. Clean blue concentrate with water. Color should be light light blue. You’re welcome.

I have been spending a lot of time on my favorite Instagram page, gocleanco. Maybe that’s it. Do you follow them? You should you filthy animal.

No worries. I’ll just spend the day asking the internet why I’m dreaming about what I’ll be doing all day anyway. The internet will know why. Worse case I’ll go to TikTok.

Happy Sunday. Hope you dreamt about Brad Pitt or finding a cure for cancer. Don’t worry about me. Maybe tonight I’ll clean the toilet in my dreams. I’m fine. Send help.

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.

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.

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.

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

Rando Friday fodder

Things that started thriving after I stopped taking care of them:

At the beginning of each summer, my husband goes out and gets me beautiful, colorful hanging plants for the front of our house. They hang on hooks on our front porch and look like dangly earrings for the house. Makes me so happy. This year, he also brought home two Hibiscus plants. And just like every summer past, I watered, nursed, and loved them…to death. No blooms. No growth. They didn’t die. But they weren’t happy. In the past I just threw them out in disgust, but this year I didn’t. At the end of August, usually the time I give up, I brought them to the backyard and stopped looking after them. I literally put all the plants in a corner. Ignored them. No more watering. No more pruning. Nothing. And guess what? They are living their best, blooming life! Who knew (except people who know flowers)! Moral of the story – I will no longer be parenting my kids. I’m assuming the same is true for them 🙂

Squirrel Smorgasbord:

Long story short – I spent a buttload of money on beautiful pumpkins and gourds which basically fed all the squirrels in our neighborhood. I really wanted to do a whole Fall Festival vibe in my backyard. I know that sounds corny (ha ha), but it’s Covid, and I gotta have something to focus on. I went and bought these pumpkins and put them all around – in back, in the front – everywhere. We’re tripping over pumpkins. But it didn’t look right. Something was off. So I started asking people what I was doing wrong. My neighbor, Marcella, who has a really creative eye, came to my rescue. And she brought props. Different textures and heights, she said, that’s what was missing. She was right. Stacking crap on top of each other doesn’t count as décor. So she tweaked, she leaned, she brought a silver urn to the party – it was fabbbbbbulous (as she would say). Then she convinced me to buy corn stalks to add to the ambiance – I jumped and got them. Did you know decorative corn stalks are actually real corn stalks? Did you know that corn stalks have actual corn on them? Did you also know that squirrels love corn like I love wine? True story. This is why we can’t have nice things.

The rat bastard

(side story….a left one of the gourds in my husband’s Jeep and it rolled under one of the seats and rotted. He found it because of the pungent Doritos-like smell that now covers every inch of his beloved car. He’s cleaned it with everything he could get his hands on. Smell will not go away. I don’t know if there are other Jeep owners reading this, but I’m not exaggerating when I say that it was the very first time in our 24 year marriage that I was afraid he would leave me. I felt terrible. The smell is better now… but not gone. All I wanted was a Fall Festival vibe people).

Tarot Thursday

One of the many perks of living in Bucks County are all the local farms and vineyards. There’s always something to do, even now. This past Thursday I went with a small, safe group of gals to do a reading at a local vineyard. It was outdoors and there was plenty of social distancing. Do you believe in Tarot? I’ve only done it twice and both times my mind was blown. Am I an easy target, maybe, but it was so much fun. I won’t tell you the cards I drew because I’m still processing, but the whole thing was completely on point. I’ll just say that there was swords, swords and death involved but apparently it’s all good! Like I said – still processing.

Hope you all have a great weekend. Stay away from squirrels, swords and me, apparently.

High highs and low lows

August. You crazy, nutty bitch. You’ve given and you’ve taken away. You’ve made me insanely happy and insanely sad. At the end of this year, when I think about all the best times and the worst times – I’ll think of you.

I’ll think of my daughter finishing up a summer in New York City doing an internship. She loved the work. She loved the city. She loved her roommate. Every time I spoke to her I heard excitement and confidence. I don’t know what I would have done if a child of mine hadn’t loved the city that I love. I would have gotten over it, sure. But I would have held a grudge, truthfully. I would have looked at her with a raised eyebrow…. what’s there not to love? But thankfully she felt exactly the same way I feel. Her exit interview with the CEO included an offer for her to come back and work there. Ofcourse it did. Who wouldn’t want her? A high high for sure. This is her below – one in from the left..the one with the big smile on her face.

When she finished with that internship and finally came home, we all went away for our annual summer vacation. This year, to Iceland. It seemed more like a week on the moon. Beautiful. Striking. Gorgeous. Everywhere you turned looked like a green screen version of reality. Even now, when we look at photos – they look fake. And the country is as friendly as is it beautiful. We spent a week exploring, climbing, hiking, swimming, eating and sometimes fighting (let’s be honest). But it was still perfect. Another high high.

While my girl was spending her summer bulking up her LinkedIn profile, my son spent the summer learning how to surf. He never took a formal lesson (to my chagrin), he just learned from friends. He fell in love with it. Which made total sense. He’s a great swimmer, he loves his skateboard….ofcourse he’d love surfing! It all added up. Once he’d had his fill of beach trips he started looking for a job. I suggested he take a lifeguard class, and miraculously, he agreed. He passed the class and got a job as a lifeguard at a local cougar haunt..errr I mean gym. My little baby boy was going to save lives! Ok…not really. But he was going to watch little brats while their parents got drunk at the pool bar – that’s something to be proud of right? The kid who I have to sometimes remind to brush his teeth, got a job. He had to fill out a W9! What is happening here??!! A high for sure.

I have one more little high. My work team got together for an offsite. We met for a day of eating and drinking and swimming. No agenda. No work talk (that wasn’t juicy gossip). Just fun. It’s a humbling, lucky thing to get along with the people you work with. It’s a miracle to like them. Maybe even love them! This group of people that I work with makes the job feel like fun. And we’ve been through some ugly times. I mean…ugly. But at the end of the day – we stick together. I can’t imagine my time at this company without them. High high! This pic isn’t from this year but I love it.

So that leaves the low. The low low.

And it really was the lowest low.

About a year and a half ago, my husband’s aunt was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.

Let me back up.

Mary Ohl was born Mary Dahill – we all called her Dee Dee. Sister to Terry and Peggy. Mother to her boys. Wife to Dennis and then Walter (or Teddy, as we know him).

Fiery redhead and New York City hellraiser, she spent her early years drinking, working and causing overall havoc. Eventually she settled down – had her boys – and became a nurse.

By the time I met her, she had already retired. She was no longer a nurse. She no longer drank. No longer raised havoc – atleast not in the bars in the city. By the time I met her – she was a devoted mother to her son Dennis. Dennis was born with a form of retardation that she never actually explained to any of us. All we knew was that he was special needs, but I’m not sure we could ever verbalize what he had. Which is exactly how she liked it. She told me once that during Dennis’ early years, she tried to ignore his disability. She pretended it didn’t exist. She ignored it. She had a ton of guilt about those fuzzy years that were drowned in alcoholism and dysfunction.

It wasn’t until she got sober that she found her true calling. To give Dennis a life. A big, full, complete life. She spent over two decades researching every resource avialable to him, every opportunity due him. She joined national organizations, gave speeches, helped find programs to help him – anything she could do to solidify his independance, she did. She even helped other parents find the same resources she found.

Today, Dennis is a happy, nurtured man. He has a job. He lives on his own (with some angels who take care of him). He makes his own decisions and choices. He loves music and he loves to dance, like his momma.

As a mother, I think I’m doing all I can to make my kid’s lives better. I usually feel pretty good about it – until I compare it to what Dee Dee did. The cold, hard focus she had to make sure he had everything owed to him was and is a lesson.

She was amazing. She had a wicked sense of humor, she was overly generous but at the same time – she held a mean grudge. She laughed hard. She yelled hard. She was a dycotomy, like all amazing people are.

We found out about her Cancer from other people. She never called or told anyone. In fact she was pretty pissed when we all showed up to her hospital room before her surgery. Even then she pretended all was well, annoyed that we were making such a big fuss about it.

The day she came out of her surgery, she started planning Dennis’ 50th Birthday party. And boy was it a party!

12 months after that, a few weeks after Dennis’ 51st birthday party, she took a downturn. There’s a Tom Petty song that I think of whenever I think of her….it’s called “Swingin”. The line in the song is, “..and she went down….swinging”. That’s Dee Dee. Swinging.

We came back from Iceland on Saturday. We went to go see her on Sunday. She passed a day later. The lowest low. The bottom of the lows. An angry low. I didn’t realize how angry I’d be. I hated them all. The hospital. The doctors. The oncologist. The social workers. The nurses. I felt like they all betrayed her. Betrayed all of us. Why didn’t they prepare us for how quickly things would go downhill? Why didn’t they tell us how drastic the road would be? It was a low low low.

But, in all honesty, I think if you would ask her, she wouldn’t agree. She lived on her own terms. She did exactly what she wanted to do. She never ever followed advice or listened to anyone – stubborn to the end. She lived every day after her diagnosis by her own terms. Her rules. She was a force of nature. And nature is beautiful and destructive and unpredictable. It all makes sense. It’s probably exactly as she planned it.

August is over. September is here. This weekend our family will celebrate new babies coming this fall and spend time planning a happy wedding next summer. The weekend after that we continue the celebration with another family wedding, and the happy times continue. Just like Dee Dee would want them to.

Here’s to the high highs and even the low lows. I hope they never end.

Service please! Pretty please?

Here’s an unfiltered picture of where we’ve been for a couple of days. Peaceful. Beautiful. Wide open beaches with no fighting for the best view…everyone gets a good view. We try and come to this little piece of heaven every year. It’s a fancy place but we come all unfancy. We stay with family. We avoid all the crazy crowded restaurants. We try to vacation like a local.

Except we’re not local. We know it. They know it.

A couple of years ago, my husband’s godmother took us to the most delicious little pizzeria in town. It was so unassuming and relaxed – but the food was no joke. The lines out the door proved it.

We began going every time we visited. It was always a sure thing.

You sit. You order a $20 dollar bottle of wine. If you’re my husband you order the seafood fra diavolo, and If you’re me, you get linguini with garlic and oil… because cheese is no longer my friend. And without fail… the food is good. Really good.

Is it slow? Sure. Is it the best service? No. It’s a pizzeria, we get it. I’m not looking for a concierge level experience. I’m looking for bare bones. I’m looking for some water. I’m looking to get the stuff we ordered getting to us. Maybe a quick, brief check-in to see if we need anything. Basic.

Tonight we got none of it. Nothing.

Let me back up.

Admittedly I’m a tough critic of restaurants – food and service. It’s my job. It’s what I worry about all the time. Service. Food. Experience. My husband is the opposite. By the burly looks of him you’d think he’d be the harder judge. But he’s a softie. His mom waitressed to make ends meet when he and his sister were little. He heard all the stories of crabby customers. It’s a hard job. Thankless. Under appreciated. He’s very very sensitive to that.

His idea of a tip for bad service is 18%. It’s his ultimate “gotcha”. If that man leaves you less than 20% you basically didn’t serve him at all. I’ve seen him overtip at every level. I’ve seen him go back to a restaurant where someone else has paid for our meal just to confirm the tip was good. He’s nuts! In a good way. I am mostly in agreement with this. Except when it’s bad service.

We’ve lived with this dichotomy for our entire relationship. I know he can’t take it if I ask the person waiting on us for more than 2 things,” excuse me, can I get some salt?”, “can we get some water?”. That’s it. That’s all I get. And I’m fine with that. Do I mentally make note of all the things that could have gone better? Ofcourse! Do I say anything? Almost never. Like practically never. Between my husband and my kids, the goal is always the same. Don’t make trouble. Just let it go. And I usually do. But not tonight.

Tonight was the worst service we’ve ever had. Worse than the time our waiter left his shift and never told anyone he still had a table. Worse than the time the woman waiting on us was having a full blown fight with the kitchen staff. This was… epic bad. I’m not going to go into detail. You can guess. I’m sure it’s happened to you too.

To clarify how bad it was, when I said to my husband at the end of our dinner,” wow, she’s getting zero tip. None.” I waited to hear what I thought he’d say, which is,”no freaking way”, instead he said,”yep”. I couldn’t believe it. No talk about how harsh I am. No talk about her having a bad day. Nothing. Just full agreement. She was worse than I thought.

So. For the very first time since I’ve known him – about 25 years – we left no tip. By the way, even though this was a very casual pizzeria type place, our bill was over a $100. That’s how this town rolls. And guess what? The food was worth every penny.

Even now, hours later, we are both guilt ridden. Justifying to ourselves why we left her no tip. Trying to validate our actions so we can sleep tonight. It’s no bueno.
We weren’t rude. We weren’t mean. But it still feels rotten. Have you ever done this? Please lie and tell me you have. Going to bed now. Full of regret, guilt and antacids.

You can’t always get what you want…

You know what’s funny about this picture? If you guessed me in a T-shirt…. you win. If you guessed me in a rock band T-shirt… you win even more.

In our family, I’m odd man out – and not just because I live in a house full of water signs and I’m an air sign. No. I’m the weirdo in the family that doesn’t like music. I mean I LIKE music… I don’t LOVE music. I mean I love some music…and I love to dance… and I love Beyoncé…but I could do without it. Almost all the time. I’m big on silence. Or TV. Or talk radio. Basically minimal noise that can lull you into a deep sleep at any time. Groovy right??

Let me now introduce you to my husband. This is a man who will tell you that music defined his childhood. Music was a saving grace, a passion. He vividly remembers buying his first speaker. His first cassette tape. He remembers every concert he’s ever been to. Although he forgets how I take my coffee at Dunkin, he has an encyclopedic amount of info on decades of music.

This is him… have you ever seen anyone happier to be holding a foam tongue??

Music is everywhere in our lives and in our home. We have, per capita, more speakers in our average sized home than most hotels I’ve been to.

When we get into the car his first instinct is to turn the radio on. Mine is to turn the radio down.

Its no surprise, and I’ve talked about it before, that he passed this love of music on to our kids. They all love music. They share music. They talk about music. It’s exhausting!

I mean I passed stuff onto the kids too. Jack is slightly paranoid about germs and Kera loves spicy food – so it’s not like I got nothing, but it’s not as big as this collective love they have for music. The biggest thing to happen to our family was when they switched from iTunes to Spotify. They share playlists. They Shazam new songs from each other and talk about the next live band they want to see. I’ll never forget how proud my husband was when our daughter went to her first live concert. I was worried she’d be mugged and drugged. He was worried that she’d think the band was bad. These are true stories people.

Here’s a secret….I would pay good money to never go to another concert (did I say that out loud?). Don’t tell them. They already think I’m an alien.

Ok so you get it. Back to the picture. So why is the person who cares the least about going to see The Rolling Stones the only one wearing the tee?? Why is the person who loathes wearing clothing with words wearing giant red lips?? Because I’m a good mother… that’s why!

Actually it’s because that night wasn’t about the music at all. Let’s face it – while they were listening to the songs, I was thinking about the how much the large LED screens cost and how the tech set-up could have been a teeny bit neater.

That night was the first time in months that it was the 4 of us together. Alone. Alone together. You know what I mean.

I could have cared less about what Mick sounded like (good!) or how old Keith looked (super duper old!). We tailgated. They let me take pics. We wore silly ponchos when it rained. It was the best. I’d do it again tonight. Or like next month because it was a really late night last night.

It may not have been what I wanted – but it was exactly what I needed. Rock on party people.

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