The Eye of the Beholder

dance party

Sometimes misunderstandings work out for the best.

It was midnight.  We were sweaty from all the dancing.  We had had a few drinks as we enjoyed the nightlife on our last night of a cruise.  We usually preferred the quieter spots on the ship and participated in trivia or had drinks by the pool.  But this was our last night – so, what the heck, we branched out and decided to check out the Crows Nest.

There were three of us – myself, my brother, and his wife.  My husband and my kids had gone to bed early.  At first we were a little uncomfortable — everyone seemed so young and we hadn’t been to a nightclub in years.  I felt like everyone was looking at us (we later found out that they were!).  But everyone’s friendliness won us over.  Julie and I danced with my brother at the same time- and for some reason, people kept high fiving my brother.  Before long, we were dancing with other people.  Several of our fellow dance partners bought us drinks.  We noted that the people on this ship were so friendly!

The next morning, bleary eyed and a bit hungover, we looked back on the schedule of events from the previous day – and we saw that we had mistakenly chosen to attend a singles/meet and greet event.  Oops!  We had been fresh faces on the singles scene …   and that explained a few things!



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Good Decisions

crying girlIt seemed like a good decision at the time.  We were 8 years old.  We didn’t want to wake Alyson’s sleeping dad.  That made perfect sense to me.  So, I walked home – five blocks – crying and clutching my arm.

I got home and my mom sprang into action.  She supported my arm with a curled up magazine and then my parents took me to the emergency room.  A broken arm – the result of falling off a swing set.

Forty two years later (42!!) I was back in touch with Alyson and she apologized for sending me home with a broken arm.  She has felt bad for 42 years!  I didn’t feel bad at all – the arm healed up nicely and it was a pretty funny story.  I’m glad we got back in touch so we cleared that up!


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It’s Just Stuff

messy house2It’s just stuff.  That was my mantra for an entire year as I cleaned out my mom’s house.  Russian china, Persian rugs, broken vacuums, Afghan jewelry, worn towels, tax returns, ancient coins, personal notebooks.  It was an eclectic mix of valuable items and lots of junk.  My house could not hold all that stuff, so I had the challenge of getting rid of it.  Guilt ensued.  Everything had a memory for her.

And then it clicked .. those were HER memories.

It took a year to get to the stage where I could get rid of her stuff and not feel bad.  My brother and I took a few items that truly held sentimental value.  Then we had friends walk through the house and take whatever they wanted.  We filled a dumpster and a half with the junk, we sold some practical stuff on Craigslist, we sold some stuff at an auction, we gave away some stuff on Freecycle, we donated some stuff to Habitat for Humanity, and we called a junk company to do the final sweep of the stuff in the house.  The common denominator?  It was just stuff.

In the end, I know why she left the stuff.  She was tired and she didn’t feel like making those decisions.  She was 80 years old and she had a lot of memories attached to her stuff.  Throwing out the stuff would mean devaluing the memories.  She didn’t accept that the memories could live in our heads – without the stuff.

I do plan to leave less stuff to my kids.  But I’m not sure if I’m doing a good job just yet.  My guest room is full of boxes of stuff (mostly my mom’s stuff).  My office cabinets are full of stuff.  My closet is full of stuff.  And I just ordered more stuff online.  The cycle continues … and I think my mom would be humored that I still have so much stuff!






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TGIF – Not Really?


TGIFTGIF .  Thank God It’s Friday … but really?  Whenever I hear that expression, I think of my dad.  He hated that expression.  His thought was … “if you are only happy that it’s Friday, then what about all the other amazing things that can happen on the other six days of the week??”

For years, I didn’t agree with him.  I wanted a break from the school week.  I wanted to have the weekend off from work.  But as I grew older, I realized that awesome things happen everyday.  I mean, my daughter was born on a Tuesday.  That was a pretty amazing day.  My son was born on a Monday.  Yay for Monday!  I got married on a Saturday.   I volunteer every Thursday with kitties.  I go out with friends on Wednesdays.  I’ve had vacations start on Sundays.  Lots of great things happen seven days a week.

I have inherited my dad’s optimism.  But I’m not so sure if I totally agree with his dislike of “TGIF” …  because every time I hear that expression, I think of my dad, and that’s pretty great.  So, whenever someone says TGIF, I smile and it’s misinterpreted as agreement.  But I’ll take it.  TGIF.  Thanks for the weekly reminder!

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Plenty of Time

Seven months.  We had plenty of time to prepare.  But as the fateful day was upon us – nothing.  We scrambled. We made phone calls to the funeral home and to the crematorium.  No one could give us a clear answer.  We were on our own.

My mom passed away seven months earlier.  Immediately after her death, we had a formal service – lots of speakers and a reception to follow.  Friends and family came in from out of town and we celebrated and honored a grand old lady.  Closure.  Sort of.  But since my mom was being interred beside my dad at Arlington National Cemetery, there was a seven month gap between services.  And today was the day that she was being interred.

As a family, we agreed that we would take some of her ashes and spread them somewhere special.  I had the urn tucked away on a family room shelf for 7 months.  A quick peek revealed a tightly clamped seal – the kind that one cannot replicate at home.  Arlington National Cemetery was very clear with their instructions — no partial ashes.

Since my mom was a bit of a rebel, this seemed perfect.  We had a clandestine mission.  She would have approved.  The boys were out – my brother and my husband wanted nothing to do with this — their squeamishness and their rule following natures rendered them helpless.  So, my sister-in-law, Julie, and I took charge.  Julie went to the craft store and got two vials – and supplies to “bedazzle” them.  We cut off a bottom corner of the ashes bag and poured some ashes into the shiny, pink, bedazzled vials.  We took an old fashioned twisty tie and sealed the bag and tucked it beneath the bulk of the ashes.  Our secret deed done.

Most of my mom now resides next to my dad at the storied Arlington National Cemetery.  But the rebel in her floats in the lake that she lived on for 40 years – and the adventurer in her drifts in the waves in a secluded beach in Tortola.  I think she’d like that.

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Gambling Lessons

diceUsually, bad lessons learned from gambling result in money lost and sad people.  But that is not how this story ends.  This is the story of a couple of lucky friends who made poor decisions and were rewarded for it.

Ken and I were gambling buddies.  There was a time when we would go to Atlantic City once a month.  We’d play craps and blackjack — but mostly craps.  We played blackjack when we wanted to relax.  We were “smart” gamblers – we had read the books and we knew our odds.

We usually fared pretty well.  We were disciplined.  If our allotted money ran out, well, we were done.  But not on this particular Sunday.  Our money ran out way too fast.  So, we did exactly what you are not supposed to do … we hit up the ATM.  We agreed to each take out $20.  When playing craps properly, that is basically one bet.

So .. we put our money on the line and we put it behind the line.  Dice were rolled.  We won right away.  Another roll.  Another win.  We placed bigger bets.   We kept rolling the dice.  We played craps for two more hours.  We were high fiving and giggling and our mantra was “this is such a bad lesson!”

By the time we left, we had each recovered our original losses and then each netted a profit of over $400.  We sheepishly grinned as we left the table, knowing full well that we were not supposed to be rewarded for making those decisions.  But I was indeed rewarded – I bought a set of wrought iron furniture for my deck (nutty gambling purchase, I know).  That was 22 years ago — and I still have the furniture and I still have a great gambling story!

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168 Steps

couchIt’s hard to only walk 168 steps in one day.  Unless you are sick or are bedridden, it’s practically impossible.  I don’t mean to brag, but I was able to accomplish this rare feat one weekend in March.

I was on my annual girls weekend.  It was Sunday – the day we don’t leave the beach house.  Getting out of pajamas and showering are considered optional.

What was my trick?  How did I do it?  It involved a tight triangle.  I went from the couch, to the bathroom, to the kitchen and back to the couch.  Repeat every hour from 10:00 am until after midnight.  Talking, eating, and drinking do not count towards steps.  Genius.


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fourleafcloverSports people often ascribe to the adage, “it’s better to be lucky than to be good.”  Well, I’m not an athlete, but I am usually pretty lucky – and it’s good!

When my kids were about 5 and 7 years old, I took them to Redskins Training Camp.  It was a few miles down the road and we needed an activity.  And what the heck — it’s never too early to instill a love of football and the Washington Redskins.

When we got there, the place was buzzing.   Aside from watching the players practice, there were games to play and pictures to be taken with cut outs of players.  There was a massive merchandising tent.

I took my kids to one of the games – where the goal was to toss a football into a cut out circle (which was meant to be the receiver’s hands).  When it was our turn, the kids wanted me to be the one tossing the football.  So, without much thought, I tossed the football and it went through the slot.  No big deal, right?  Wrong!

The slouchy teenager who was working the game stood up and exclaimed “How did you do that?  No one has made it all day.”  He called over a co-worker to tell him what just happened.  The grandparents behind me peered in to get a glimpse of me.  The folks in the back of the line started inching closer to see what was causing the commotion.  My kids looked around and started beaming — realizing that their mom was somehow impressing all these people.

The teen-aged boy asked me to do it again.  The onlookers wanted to know my secret.  I just smiled and shrugged and said it would be best to let some others try – and we walked away.

I know I was lucky that day, but that was my secret.  It was good to be a superstar in my kids’ eyes.  No explanation necessary.

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Bathroom Emergency

baby-boy-sitting-potty-learning-to-pee-65245918I haven’t had a two year old in 16 years, so when I went out on a boat with one, it proved to be quite an adventure.  Julie, my sister in law, was called into babysitting duty when a friend went into labor.

We were having a lovely time cruising around the lake – fishing, sipping our drinks, and noshing on cheese and crackers – when suddenly, the two year old blurted out that she needed to poop.  Lacking any good options, we looked to the shore and saw a family friend’s house.  We saw a young man outside and figured that must be Philip or Michael — let’s dock there.

Julie got off the boat and approached the young man – who was a complete stranger.  She was clutching the anxious two year old’s hand and panicked and blurted out “Can we use your house to poop?”  Poor Andre — a grown man who doesn’t have kids and who had no idea who Julie was – just nodded and showed her the way.

The little girl wanted a shred of privacy so she went into the bathroom alone – leaving Julie standing awkwardly in the hallway with Andre.  The girl said loudly and matter of factly, “Ms. Julie, I can wipe my vagina, but can you wipe my butt?”  Awkward glances and sheepish shrugs were exchanged between Julie and Andre.

Julie quickly made her way back to the boat and proclaimed her humiliation.  We giggled and told her that we appreciated the humor.  We learned two things that day – a new spot to catch bass – and a new place to poop.


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It’s all in the translation…

cucumber-clipart-canstock11804104I got a pedicure today and I had the most delightful thing happen – and it had nothing to do with my feet.  I’ll remember it far after the polish wears off and the calluses return.

As I was browsing through the pedicure options, imagine my surprise/delight when one of the options was “cucumber hell.” What??  This prompted so many questions and even more giggles.  I really didn’t even know what it meant .. peal?  heal?  I told several friends and we decided that cucumbers really shouldn’t be feared.

I’m a avid traveler and I understand the challenges of a language barrier.  I have been the victim of a translation gaffe myself — when we were in Puerto Rico, I thoroughly embarrassed my daughter when I mispronounced the name of a beach — thus calling it “ass beach.”   Yup, she could not have been more proud.

But Spring is here and I can’t think of anything more delightful than going through cucumber hell and then spending a few days on ass beach.  Sign me up.



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