Lyrical Laughs

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Those three little words

Every once in a while my husband of more than 30 years will hear me utter those words every man longs to hear. I’ve even been brazen enough to blurt it out in front of witnesses who might be needed in the future to quote me if needed. That much anticipated, powerful phrase?

“You were right.”

The last time I shared this thought out loud another male (someone else’s husband, naturally) immediately volunteered to confirm that I was lucid and in my right mind. These guys know how to stick together. They even indirectly dared me to put my laptop where my mouth is and write about this momentous occasion.

It’s not like I don’t give Spouse credit where credit is due. We never would have made it through all these years if I hadn’t let him believe he was right every so often. It could be that I’m mellowing with age and have decided that life is short and I should make it clear just how much I cherish the simple things, like admitting he knew how many Tupperware containers I left behind at church when I wasn’t quite sure. By the way, whoever mistakenly took my large square container with the burp lid should know there’s a tracking device on it.

My willingness to admit my hubby is in the know could simply be that I want to keep on his good side, since the older we get the more we realize that we have almost one working brain between the two of us. For the most part we are in sync. There are times, however, when the message doesn’t quite compute. Take, for instance, last weekend.

We attended a fundraising event Saturday that began with a silent auction where we browsed through several items while enjoying scrumptious hors d’oeuvres and wine, followed by a live auction. Mind you, ahead of time Spouse and I sat down (well, we were in the car at the time, so we had to be sitting) and discussed just how much money we were willing to part with that evening. I don’t mean on the way to the auction, I mean this conversation occurred a few days before. In other words, we should have been prepared.

Here’s what we did wrong: We each had a bidding number. We started out with filling each other in on what we bid on, but somewhere along the way we sort of lost track.

Let me just express how thankful I am that we were constantly outbid during the live auction, because our total “winnings” from the silent auction added up to twice as much as we had anticipated writing a check out for.

In the end it was a fun night and we did scoff up some pretty good deals, and neither was pointing a finger at the other about the cost. Even though we were seduced by the power of our bidding numbers, neither of us was right – or wrong.  We got a little carried away for a worthwhile cause. The best part is that we’ll be putting our Sam’s Club gift card to good use this week and after the holidays we can look forward to a night in a very nice Freeport hotel.

So this time neither of us had to utter those three little words that can be hard to say. Instead we traded them in for those five vital words that bond a couple in the midst of midlife and an empty nest…

“Have you seen my glasses?”

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Young and carefree... and then Paris

At 2:46 a.m. my cell phone buzzed with a message from Second Born, who is spending the weekend in Amsterdam (six hours ahead) with two very close friends.

"We talked and decided not to do Paris next weekend in light of the attacks there this weekend..."

She continued briefly with what they think their alternate plans might be. I didn't tell her that I had woken up at 2:42 a.m., and when she messaged me I had been reading several posts on my Facebook page about the attacks, the deaths, and the shock of life altered in one moment. My stomach and mind were churning with the thought that she had been looking forward to next weekend's Paris excursion practically since she began her study abroad in early September. As I lay in bed by the light of my cell phone I knew that we needed to talk with her about Paris and a change of plans as soon as she returned from Amsterdam. But she and her friends had already grasped the seriousness of it and that this changed everything.

This changed everything.

I've described myself as living vicariously through my children who have been to many more places in their short lives than I have in my 55 years. It has always given me enormous pleasure to do so because I was afraid to take chances they are taking, and I would like to believe that we've encouraged them to get out there and do what they want to do. This is the time while they are young and carefree.

There is nothing carefree about trying to find out if any of your study abroad classmates were among the injured or dead in this attack. Thankfully none were. But their world just got a little bigger and a little less naive. Despite the fact that hundreds of college students travel to places like Paris all year for these experiences, their main worry is often how many suitcases to bring and where to find the best pubs. Not what to do in case the city you're living in or visiting is attacked.

Maybe I'm the one who is naive. Do they review terrorist attacks in classes leading up to these programs? Do they tell you to be vigilant and prepared on your way to a restaurant or a concert hall? Because my sense has been that my daughter and her friends have been comfortable this whole time with planning weekend jaunts via airplane or train or bus to any number of other countries, while I hold my breath until she sends a message that she is safely back to her dorm in Budapest.

Our children are living in a world where they are using social media to let family and friends know they are all right. A world where Elysee Palace, the residence of the president of the French Republic, responded to this horrible, grisly attack with tweets vowing retribution. A world where sick, pathetic, lying scum are watching and waiting, using these same resources to make contact and recruit and plan, and then celebrating the death of innocence.

I can't wait until she is home on U.S. soil in two months - not that being here means she and her sister  living in Philly - rife with crime - can't be harmed because we are now all too familiar with shootings in theaters and malls and schools, and since even before 9/11 we have clearly not been blind to terrorist attacks. I know she is having a fantastic experience and it's not that I want to take any of that away from her. The exception is that I would take away the conversation they had to have last night about Paris. I would take away the message this tragedy sends, that "young and carefree" may become a distant memory.

I would take away anything that makes me want to stop living vicariously through my children.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

And the list goes on and on

Our big trip to Hungary and India is just a few weeks away. You know what that means.

The lists have begun.

I’ve been throwing together lists for a while now. They just aren’t exactly all in one place. This is because I start a list wherever I am at the moment whenever I happen to think about something we need to do, buy, or take. Last Sunday I had to force myself to refrain from writing “shots” on the notepad app on my cell phone during the sermon. Not that our priest made me think of shots – and I’m talking about inoculations, not the tequila kind of shot – it was just one of those things that popped into my head.

Fortunately, I did remember to make that note at the end of the service, as well as put a calendar reminder on my phone to call my doctor’s office the next morning. Maybe I should consider making notes to recall what the sermon was about.

Sometime last week I was up at two in the morning thinking about some detail to include on a list. I noted it on my phone because I sure as heck wasn’t going to get out of bed and let my feet touch the cold floor. From there my mind wandered to things I had absolutely no control over at that hour, such as contacting the bank and buying Immodium to pack, since we’ve been warned numerous times that not drinking the water is no guarantee against getting zapped with stomach issues. It was a long night.

I wish I had taken organization lessons from Second Born before she flew to Budapest. Her lists, which included all-of-the-above plus the financial end (and that entails three different accounts), resembles a system NASA would be proud of. She didn’t learn that from me – that sort of meticulous planning comes from her father’s genes without a doubt. This is why Spouse and I don’t agree when it comes to planning projects in the house. He sees prepping, masking, priming, and sanding before we can paint a room. I see a can of paint and a wall. What’s the problem?

Adding something to a list seems to make it more official and necessary. Spouse is letting me take the reins for the most part with the lists. He may change his mind when I freak out the week before we leave and decide we need new luggage. 

Besides the restrooms on the airplane, which I may have previously mentioned in passing (or in 600 anxious words), there is that short, internal list of my own nervous speculations about this trip. I chalk it up to my Italian upbringing, where worrying is right up there with eating pasta and using your hands to talk. My sister, in her attempt to keep me from going over the edge in my pre-travel panic, reminded me that I had flown all the way to Hawaii by myself at one time. Please, that was 30 years and we will not be discussing how many pounds ago.

Don’t think that all I’m doing is making lists and panicking. Granted, that is part of my repertoire but certainly not the whole picture. Now that Spouse and I have chosen authentic India clothing for the Love Couple’s second ceremony, the excitement is growing stronger each day. While we are in Budapest it will be the start of the region’s very extensive Christmas Fair, which I am very much looking forward to, not to mention the fact that we will see Second Born after almost three months. The fact that we will be joined by several family members in India is a wonderful added bonus to the whole experience. There is much to be delighted about in the coming weeks.

In the meantime,  after measuring our suitcases against the airline's regulations,


guess who's going luggage shopping this weekend?




Sunday, November 1, 2015

A test you can't crunch (anything) for

Last Monday Spouse and I sat in the patient waiting room of our local hospital while I waited to be called in for a scheduled test. Since we hoped to pick up lunch later, he thought it would be a good idea to pull up the menu from a local deli on his iPad and choose what we would like after my procedure.

Here’s the thing. I hadn’t had one bite of food in 36 hours by that point. I was starting to consider gnawing on my arm. Reading about pan seared chicken breast, crispy bacon, fresh mozzarella, and roasted red peppers was making my empty stomach rumble like it was going to knock me off the waiting room chair. Saliva was gathering in the corners of my mouth and I had to lay down the law.

Please. Stop. It.

I’ll be honest. I had been avoiding this particular test – my first colonoscopy - for quite some time, and at my age (I recently celebrated the 16th anniversary of my 39th birthday) it should not be avoided or ignored.

The hardest part of the whole procedure was the beverage (and I use this term very loosely) you must drink in preparation, which, no matter what flavor packet they include with the gallon of liquid you are supposed to down, will still taste like cardboard with clear glue thrown in for texture. I did discover the secret of gulping a glass at a time and chasing it down with flavored seltzer water. That and orange gelatin got me through the several hours it took to almost polish off the stuff until I had achieved an “all clear” – literally.

By the way, my boss asked me after the fact why my doctor didn't just give me the pills you can take for this process now, instead of doing it the "old fashioned way" with witch's brew. Now I want to know what sadistic so-and-so in my doctor's office filled the paperwork out.

The end result is… well, let’s just say your end spends a lot of time sitting, and anyone else in the house will need to understand that their lavatory time had better be kept to a minimum (especially in our case since we only have one bathroom). Tell them to get friendly with the neighbors or the outdoors if necessary.

The doctor had an emergency that morning which pushed appointments back by a couple of hours, but the hospital staff was friendly and accommodating. While I hung out in my lovely hospital gown Spouse helped me score a second warmed up blanket to cover up – good thing since a substantial part of me was blowing in the wind, so to speak.

Eventually a nurse wheeled me into the procedure room. I spotted what had been described to me as a tiny camera that would be used for the test, which didn’t seem all that tiny from my point of view… but I wasn’t sedated yet.

As I lay there eyeing the equipment the nurse was discussing chocolate with someone else in the room. I weakly groaned, “Mmm chocolate”, which somehow set off a sadistic conversation about food and restaurants and great meals. At that moment visions of omelets and paninis and coffee danced in my head, but it was all a fantasy until after I was poked and prodded and released.

The procedure went well and I was given a clean bill of health, a snack, my clothes, and a release form. Spouse was there to take me home. While I did feel relaxed during the procedure, I didn’t feel at all groggy and had actually watched the whole thing in awe. Now I was just plain hungry. Alas, the deli we looked forward to was closed, as was our second choice. What is it with Mondays and local eateries? We landed at a favorite local pizza place where I tried to pace myself after not eating since Saturday evening.

It’s easy to find the funny in this type of situation.  We want to laugh at those uncomfortable moments, and I won’t tell you this was exactly comfortable. But the fact is a few uncomfortable moments can save a life.  You can pretend you’re invited to a tea party  - or maybe a wine tasting party – if it helps you get through the prep drink.

Just as long as you RSVP to this invitation of preventative measure with a Yes.