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.

My darlings

This quote by Aldous Huxley was posted by a good friend a few weeks ago. Besides the fact that we are legit living Brave New World, I’d forgotten how much I loved his writing.

I sent the quote to my kids immediately. They’re used to it. I’m always sending them videos or quotes or things I need to make sure they see and know. Not sure it ever sinks in but I’m calling it an effort and checking my parenting box for the day. Sometimes that’s all I have the energy for.

“Lightly, lightly”…. it is the best advice.

I think about it at work. At home. On social media.

I’m pretty good about not overthinking. Obsessing. I don’t have too many talents but one has always been that I can walk away from anything or anyone that makes me feel bad. I’m not into it.

Someone said to me that I’m always in a good mood. That’s not true. I’m always trying to be in a good mood. I see no point in being miserable. I also think it’s almost always a choice. Unless there’s abuse involved or if you’re a young child – you can choose to not be miserable. At least try.

I know it’s easier said than done. I know there’s a lot of competition for joy out there. Everyone’s got their own definition of what joy looks like. That’s ok. Because there’s enough for everyone. It’s abundant. Your joy may come from hiking a mountain, mine comes from Bravo. Doesn’t make it any less or more joyful.

Don’t let the quick sands drag you in. Don’t scroll Instagram or Facebook and be angry. You’re using it wrong. Don’t blame the game. Use it for what you want it for. Walk away from the rest.

Same goes for people. There are a lot of people in the world. A lot. Like everyone else, I’ve found some good people and I’ve found some duds. The duds have to go. Doesn’t matter if they’re friends or family. It doesn’t mean that they are evil or bad or that they’ve done me wrong in any way. I just can’t carry their weight. Too heavy. Too hard.

I also know that I’m a dud in someone else’s story. I get it. I’m ok with it.

I’ll keep reading this quote. Maybe you will too❤️

I was promised a snow storm

I’m here on the couch moping with the cat. Where is my storm?? I really wanted it. I am so ready for it. I mean I didn’t buy bread or milk or anything, but mentally I’m ready for it. I’m ready to cancel plans. Ready to not leave the house for the next 48 hours. Ready to not shower, stay in my pjs, and take intermittent naps all day long. I had planned on making my husband feel guilty for not getting firewood. I was looking forward to that all week. Now I got nothing.

And it’s almost 40 degrees outside. WTF. I think I just saw a peek of sun. So frustrating.

Now I’ll be expected to do things. Empty the dishwasher. Put my contacts in. Get off the couch. This isn’t what America is about! I can’t even depend on weather I was promised.

My daughter drove back to school yesterday so she’d beat the storm up in New York. I bet they’ll get a foot. Or two. Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, you make me sad. I’m not mad at you. Just really disappointed.

Nice Doggy…

We had a yard sale this morning.

Apparently this is the weekend for this type of thing. We got out there early – really early and had people all morning.

Our neighborhood has great walking paths – there’s always folks out with their babies or dogs or both.

Now…before I begin the rest of this post…let me be clear. There’s one thing that I usually don’t discuss with people. No, not religion or politics or money – I have no problem talking about that stuff (as long as you’re a grown-up and not secretly angry).

What I’m talking about is a subject near and dear to many people’s hearts. I’m talking about pets.  Pets. Specifically, my non-love for/of them. My complete un-need for pets. I know. I’m a monster.  I don’t stroke, coo, or otherwise touch them. Do I wish them harm? No! NO! I love that you love pets. Dogs, cats, birds, whatever. Good for you. It’s just not my thang.

My husband is a cat person. He’s had and loved cats his whole life. He’s made our children cat people too.  And we have one. Lexi, a very pretty Calico. Before her we had a very street smart, rat-turned-cat that my husband found behind a dumpster in the Bronx named Virgo.  I’ve posted pics before.  I offer this not as an excuse, but merely as part of my history.

Back to the yard sale.

As I said, we set up early for all the hardcore “buyers” who troll the neighborhood at 6am. During the course of the morning, we met many of our near and far neighbors. Some were curt and all business – nodding and forging ahead. But many were super friendly. Stopping to chat and look around.

Many of the awesome folks that stopped had dogs. And inevitably, I felt deep guilt when I didn’t acknowledge the dog. Because you see I know you love that dog. And I think that dog is awful cute. But here’s what happens, when I say something about the dog, like, “oh how cute” or “what a sweetie” or something – all of which I mean sincerely –  you immediately loosen the harness so the dog can come closer and I can pet said dog.

And then….nothing. You get nothing from me. I start stuffing my hands in my pockets. I start fixing my hair. I do anything but pet/stroke/touch the dog.

Awkward.

Because what you don’t know is that I don’t even pet the animals that live in my house.

I blame my parents. We never had pets – until I went away to school – then my family had a pet revolution. Everywhere you looked there was a big, fluffy dog. I missed out.

So you see I appreciate you and your love for the dog/cat/bird/fish – but I’d rather not touch it.

Is that ok?

Am I still a good person?

I’d rather kiss a 100 snotty babies than rub a dog’s belly. I’m a freak.

Not news.

Loose Moral Compass

 

I saw a lady litter.

I was at a stop sign around the block from my house.  She was pushing an expensive baby stroller and wearing a cute outfit.  She finished a bottle of water and then threw it behind the sign for our neighborhood.

I couldn’t believe it.

She must have seen me see her.

I was right there. She didn’t care.

She just threw the empty bottle and kept walking. I should have honked my car. Or shouted out to her.  But I’m a chicken shit and I just sat there. Watching.

I imagine her doing all sorts of awful things and not caring.  Not tipping enough. Not recycling.  Returning outfits that she already wore. Never washing her hands after she uses the bathroom.

She’s probably a liar too.

On my way home I stopped and picked up the bottle.

It was a Fiji water. Now I’ll be thinking about her every time I see a bottle.

That poor baby.

 

 

From Jersey, with love

We live about 40 minutes from the beach. More specifically, the Jersey Shore. You know, the place that gave birth to GTL, Snooki, and the Situation. But it’s also the place that gave us big old boardwalk slices of pizza, funnel cake, arcade games and oh yeah, the beach.

Because it was sunny. Because it was a perfect 65 degrees. Because I needed to extract myself away from the TV. We headed to the beach.

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This was also the place hit hard by Hurricane Sandy – and although they were still rebuilding parts of the boardwalk – doors were open.

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Here’s my babies playing an overpriced game that can’t possibly be worth the crappy stuffed toy that they will eventually win. Everything is back to normal.

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Our day ended with this.I love the shore.

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Cat Nap

Gird your loins.

Another cat post.

I took this video for my boy – who is in mad love with this cat. Since it’s Friday and my brain can’t function – I decided to use it as my post too. A nice Friday cheat.

I came down this morning to find Lexi sleeping in her spot and making a noise.  Kinda like snoring or sleep meowing. I dunno.

She was doing it loudly enough for me to hear it in the kitchen. By the time I decided to go get my phone and tape her, she’d mellowed a bit.

Stick with the video…around the 2o second mark, like a great whale, she starts again.

The round blob of fur is hard to figure out.

Here she is in all her fat, whiskery, stank eye splendor

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