Most Romantic Thing Ever

Love, Young Love

copos de nieve / snowflake

His name was John and he was visiting from England. He had twinkling blue eyes and a slow, easy grin. He was absolutely gorgeous. I was in my mid-twenties and I was living in Boston;  I was in-between apartments and ended up staying at a local inn. One night there was a knock on my door, it was Barbara, the Manager of the Inn inviting me to dinner in her downstairs apartment. Barbara was an amazing cook and soon we became best friends. We ate huge, Italian meals by ourselves or with an expanded set of friends. We laughed, we partied; Barbara would sing for us with her rich and beautiful voice; we watched ice-skating together and ate fabulous home-cooked meals. During the day, after my work, Barbara and I clutched each other as we skated on the frozen sidewalks picking out French pastries for dessert. In a short time we all had become each others’ family.

One day she introduced me to a young man named John, from England, who was staying at the Inn. Barbara, kind of heart and spirit, always invited “orphans” for dinner. I met John and I didn’t like him, and he didn’t like me either. We fought and argued and disagreed about most everything. Apparently when the fighting was bad, Barbara asked our friend Steven (known as Stella to his close friends) if she should separate us at the dinner table. Apparently, Steven, sensing something, said “absolutely not.”

Honestly, I don’t know how, why or when the switch was flipped but soon John and I had quite a bit to talk about. We were laughing and smiling, hardly realizing there were other people in the room. When it was late and dark, John asked if he could walk me home and I said “yes.” Stella smiled smugly as we left holding hands.

We spent all our free time together, getting to know each other well in the upcoming weeks/months. On our first official date John arrived bringing a bottle of wine, flowers, a tiny stuffed bear and a T-shirt that he actually had made up for me. The T-shirt was beige with big red and black letters that read: LLBBF: 11:11 (initials for a nickname John invented and my favorite time in the world, 11:11pm.) Only Barbara, John and I knew what the nickname stood for. I had never been treated with such sweet kindness ever before.

Thirty years later I still have the tee-shirt, hidden deep in one of my closets. I haven’t thought of it in a long time but today it reminds me of a wonderful, warm and magical time in my life. Romance was blossoming, I was young and John and I walked, arms around each other, amid the glittery, sparkling snowflakes.

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An Honest Thanksgiving

Tender, juicy roast turkey - the main attracti...

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It will be Thanksgiving in just a few days. While we all are looking forward to moist turkey and my husband’s famous stuffing made with mushrooms and apples, raisins and water chestnuts, I have a small request. Please be kind and sensitive to one another. I don’t worry about what things will taste like; I know they will all be delicious. The only thing I worry about, quite honestly, is drama. Holidays can bring up all sorts of feelings: loss, bereavement, jealousy, resentment, sadness, and despair. Old wounds start to feel new, grievances and perceived injustices start to bubble to the surface. Before we dig in to the mashed potatoes my mother made (cough, cough, bought from a restaurant), and cranberry sauce let us think about each other first. During dessert let us try to rejoice in each others’ company instead of waiting for the air to get thick with tension as dense as brown gravy.

This year, for the first year I have actually mentioned to several members of the family that I am asking for a “drama-free” Thanksgiving. I have chronic pain, my husband has been feeling sad because of  lack of work, please try to remember this.  Work  alongside us, tell us things will be alright eventually. Life is not perfect but Thanksgiving should be about what we are grateful for, not what we lack.

I don’t want to hear sullen complaints about the food or the appetizers and I’m happy to cook and clean, taste, stir, serve and clean-up. I will not be happy with arguments, whispered secrets said too loudly and explosive outbursts. Please just leave your coats and any agendas at the door and please, please think before you speak. Be courteous to everyone else. Don’t brag, insult, or be insensitive to other people’s needs.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my family and friends. May it be peaceful, filled with great warmth, love, gratitude and great food. I am thankful for all of you.  Now, let us eat.

Buying A Purple Shirt While Eating Jelly Beans

This is a picture i took for the Candy article.

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This is the kind of post you want to read on a Monday afternoon when the clouds are all gray and gloomy and it is the start of a brand new week. The orange-green-red leaves on the trees are swaying and they look like they want to cry. I’m thinking about the future and living somewhere else where the sun stays out all day and you don’t have to wear a thick black jacket.  The only perk today is that our house is clean and it looks pretty. There are no cobwebs that I can see and the wood shines like a Pledge commercial. It smells lemony and the beds are made and the sheets are fresh and I am planning to take a hot bath tonight. It’s against house rules to put your dirty body into a brand new made-up bed with sheets and blankets that beckon you and smile.

It’s our friend Christina’s 16th birthday and she looked so sweet and innocent and happy like a shiny polished Macintosh apple. My son drives her to school and back every day along with his sister seated proudly in the front seat. Christina was wearing the soft beige scarf that my daughter gave her for her birthday. Her arms were packed with brownies and oatmeal cookies and chocolate cake that her school friends made for her birthday celebration. Oh to be young, filled with sweetness, innocence and incomparable joy. I see myself in young Christina, all eager and willing to please, her arms outstretched for a big, warm, hug.

I’m listening to music to quell the anxiety that has been plaguing me for the last week. It starts in the late afternoon and escalates until nighttime; my stomach clenches and my legs ache with unbearable pain. My aches and pains stem from stubborn, bossy, Fibromyalgia and sleep comes as a welcome relief.

I’ve taken down all the photographs of my children when they were very young and replaced them with an up-to-date picture of the two of them grinning, their eyes alive with mischief; my son’s arm casually draped around his sister’s shoulders. I had to beg and plead a lot for that one portrait. While I am extremely proud of my children’s independence I have had a few problems lately adjusting to it.  I can’t forget the moment last year when my son said patiently “Mom, High School is one big lie.” It is a message that has been burned into my brain and I think of it often.  I didn’t believe him then but I do now. Apparently, lies are commonplace but I need to force myself to look deeper, for honor, and not compare my past, unhappy and burdened youth to their present, over-indulged happy lives.

I am booking a massage at the local spa, a gift I received for my birthday, and I am looking forward to it. There, I will not think of the last year, tension pressed up against stress like two sweaty lovers: unemployment and illness together as one.  I will fantasize about traveling, seeing the tulips in Holland, a trip to Israel in the spring, perhaps the countryside of Spain. I will picture my loving husband’s face, his hand in mine, playing the punch buggy game in the car and competing in the “I love you more” contest. I will remember that when I asked him for a phrase, another definition for “empty nest” he threw his head back, howled loudly, with glee and in a snap of a second he shouted: “Freedom.” I love him so much in many ways but I especially love him for giving me that.

Dedicated to Danny

Cheeseburger On The Lam–The Aftermath

I was feeling so proud of my blog last night, the 104 entries, the fact that I stuck to it, it was my  challenge and it was my accomplishment. It was my biggest accomplishment after, of course, the births of my son and daughter. Last night however, things changed and I have the painful stomach ache to prove it.

After hearing a lecture in school on Internet safety during Seminar Day, both of my children were made aware of the dangers of their  photos, ANYTHING on the internet with their names attached to it.  Inconveniently that same day I wrote a blog about my two teenagers because both my husband and I were in bad moods and felt incredibly cranky. First mistake.

To those of you who read my blog called “Cheeseburger On The Lam” aka “The Teenagers” let me tell you that I shouldn’t have written it. I want to apologize to my children for publishing something that they took offense to. I have been feeling sick, really sick and stressed out all day because of it. Honestly? I didn’t think it was that bad, just cranky parents needing to let off some steam. But, my children took offense to it and I deeply apologize for that.

It was a mistake, I now know, to publish it, because they were very angry, defiant and upset about it. I was hoping the audience were parents of teenagers that could possibly relate and to those people who are also unemployed and tense. Unfortunately, the audience of two that mattered the most to me, were my children. Thanks Seminar Dude. You ruined our evening and I do not, repeat not, think you were referring to vague references of sons and daughters written by a cranky parent!

It started a prosecutor extravaganza which was no fun for anyone that lasted a good hour. Before I even published it I even sent the blog to my husband asking him if he thought it was okay to publish, he said it was “Excellent!”  So, I published it but what I really should have done was just thought about it a little longer. If I copied my husband and asked if it was okay, then maybe I was ignoring my own, deeply hidden thoughts or questions of judgment. I  really don’t know.

So, here in print, I would like to apologize to my children for offending them. NOTHING is more important to me than these two amazing children. Children who bring such utter joy to my life. I would do nothing to hurt their feelings on purpose and if I did than I am deeply ashamed. The buck stops here.

I always tell my children, to be honest with me; I am now being honest with you. Yes, your dad and I did feel frustrated yesterday, the climate in the house had reached a point that we were very high-strung, over sensitive and uptight. So, I did what I do best and wrote about it, never thinking you would take offense. From now on, I promise you, I will think before I write and certainly before I click “Publish.”

I love you both more than my life. The thought of upsetting you made me feel horrible all day; yesterday’s meeting was not fun for anyone. I hope you accept my apology and now we can move on. Parents make mistakes, just like every person. As I’ve always taught you, if you have done something wrong, just be honest and apologize. Back at you.

Love, Mom

*******P.S. SORRY DAUGHTER FOR THE “OTHER ONE” TOO!

Cheeseburger On The Lam (aka Dear Teenagers)

Dear Teenagers,

Today was such a stressful day from 6:30 am until 6pm that Dad and I wrote a note to you while you were still gone this afternoon and snuck out for a burger. Together. On our own.  An unexpected date night which we haven’t done for months. Nothing fancy either and with a 20% coupon in hand the stresses of our day seemed to melt like the cheese in the barely warm potato-leek soup that we shared.

We were all in foul moods: it’s that time,  you know that school is ALMOST over but there’s still a lot of stress, tests and finals etc. to get through first. We really do understand, truly, but both of you have been amping up your obnoxious quotient with your pre-camp attitudes and it’s being to wear really, really thin. Mostly, because it’s constant and in stereo, both of you, on, all the time. Supporting one another is great but we really are not the enemy.  We KNOW you can’t wait to get out of here to go to camp…..ever wonder what we think or how we feel or how that MAKES us feel?

Couple that with Dad and I being alone during the day 24/7 because of unemployment and you can hear the rumblings of claustrophobia, desperation, depression and anxiety. Not fun. With the economy the way it is, Dad has been home trying to find a job now for more than 8 months. Kids, we want you to have a good life, a happy life and you are both in High School, one a Junior, the other a Sophomore. College is hurtling itself towards us like a tsunami. We have given you both the parameters of what we can afford to pay, the rest is up to you. I wish we could do more but we can’t, that’s called reality. Times are hard, times have changed, times are actually really bad. We’re doing the very best we can.

I don’t know if you realize that you both are pushing the limits, testing boundaries and talking with utter disrespect (and yes, I do mean all the unnecessary curse words) that you both use with wild abandonment. Enough already.  We are “parents “and we are tired, really tired and we try to hide the stress from you as much as humanly possible but let’s face it at 16 and almost 18 you know that stress exists. Please try to deal with it the best way you know how.  Apparently, “parents”  are not allowed to experience stress or be tense and upset, this disturbs the teenage sensibility of “all me, all the time.” We’re sorry. Life does not work that way.

Call us lousy parents but we just needed, desperately needed a burger break. It lasted less than an hour and we didn’t even finish the crisp, salty, thin french fries between us. We did call you and ask if you wanted us to pick up ice cream for you from your favorite ice-cream store. We got one order for a cake batter milk shake for you, son, nothing for our daughter. Just being in the ice cream store and looking at new flavors and new chocolate with a twenty dollar bill made us happy. Don’t tell me food doesn’t help sometimes. Dad got coffee ice cream and I, the child-like one in the family also got cake batter ice cream with vanilla cake and chocolate Kit Kat candy added. How can you not be happy for us? An evening of American Idol and  possibly Glee, good times…

Soon you both will be away at camp for the entire summer and there is no doubt in mind that you will be considerably missed. Not a day will go by without me thinking of you and missing you. The great paradox of life, it will be too quiet when you are gone, but at least after the summer, we will be so bored with the silence and the silent hush that we will leap with great JOY and excitement for when you get back. We love you both very, very much. Don’t forget to write (yeah, right) and we can’t wait to see you on Visiting Day. Have a great time!!  Much love, Mom and Dad xoxo

Living With Uninvited Guests

There seems to be at least one new creature who lives in our house and comes out frequently; his name is FIGHTING. He lives with us in our small house, often hiding in one room or another but he seems to be here constantly. FIGHTING joins my daughter in her attitude and tone of voice; or when she doesn’t get what she wants.  FIGHTING, also lives with my son, when my son drops the F bomb way too often, when he has a meltdown at the word “college” when we ask him if he has read a single page of a 40 dollar book that we bought at his request. FIGHTING is one of our new family members, not one I like particularly much but he has joined our family and my husband and myself have succumbed also to his impolite although sometimes quite impish ways. Yes, my husband and I have been joined by FIGHTING too. I am NOT proud of this.   Like an ill-intentioned in-law when you’ve just had a baby and they know everything better and you don’t want to hear it for one quarter of a second in any lifetime.

Having a Junior in High School and a Sophomore in High School at the same time brings us a little more energy and upheaval than an ordinary family would generally have. Pair that with an unemployed dad who is desperately trying to find a job for more than 6 months already and a mom who has been sick for over two and a half years with one thing after another. FIGHTING has been reunited with his siblings,  TENSION and STRESS; we come to find out that they are triplets.  Now, all three live with us, most of the time if not all the time.

It’s like the guests from Hell who seemingly will not leave. There was a definite begin date but no happy ending in sight and probably not for a while.  We all try, as hard as we can, to keep the triplets under control but sometimes they just break loose and dance around us satanically while we succumb to their uncontrollable and hypnotic,  evil, evil ways. No matter how hard you try to control them there are times when they get the best of us and win. We shout, we cry, we roll our eyes, doors are slammed, curse words are used, arguments are not only overheated but overheard; we become undone.   We try to regroup after each incident and we do but it isn’t easy when they come in rapid succession.

Every family goes through rough patches and I, of course, am aware of that and empathic. However, we have been hammered and it’s hard not to feel sorry for yourselves once in a great while. Yes, I count my blessings, yes, I am grateful for the things we do have but, when all of the negative issues play against each other and win,  it is really, really  hard to write everyday in the gratitude journal of life.

If you’re Oprah it’s easier to be grateful, gracious, compassionate and generous; if Fighting, Stress and Tension wanted to move to her house, she would just put them all up, lovingly, in various other houses or guest cottages in different countries. For us regular folk, we have no choice. We live with these demons day in and day out and try to cope the best way we know how.  We have no choice. However, if Oprah has any helpful hints or ideas, please tell us; we really would love to know.