DakotaDuring our recent visit to New York, a must-see for our youngest was the Dakota and Strawberry Fields. With bad weather moving in on the Saturday we were there, we decided to make it our first stop.

While dad found a parking spot, mom and daughter hung outside the Dakota for about 15 minutes, soaking up the notion that John Lennon himself had walked these very streets. We watched the doorman point out the spot where Lennon was shot to an inquisitive tourist. Staring down at that spot almost made my daughter cry.

We then headed across the street to see the “Imagine” mosaic. There were a ton of people milling about, each taking turns kneeling, laying or posing in front of the memorial, while a “performer” badly played Beatles songs on his guitar.

When it was our turn, I have to admit, I got emotional watching our little Beatles fan pose by the tiles. We had finally gotten her here. This was her moment. Hubby took this photo of her there sporting her British flag Converse sneakers.

IMG_0693After Strawberry Fields we walked around Central Park for a while, ate a few dirty water dogs, and then headed back to the Dakota, and the car. Hubby took a few more photos of daughter in front of the landmark building, and we walked down W. 72nd Street to our car.

We all got in, and hubby turned on the engine. When the radio kicked in, “Strawberry Fields” was on…not the studio version, but the rare early take. Mouths open, we all looked at each other, dumbfounded at the chance of this happening. Of all the stations that the radio could’ve been tuned to when hubby parked the car, this was the very song that was playing after our excursion to Strawberry Fields.

We pulled up W. 72nd Street, stopped in front of the Dakota, rolled down our windows and blasted the song. I turned to my daughter and said, “It’s as if John is sending you a message–like he knows your here, and knows how you feel.”

It was a goosebumps raising moment, and one that the family will always remember.

Strawberry Fields…Forever.

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Last week we spent 2 days in New York City. There was a lot our family had to accomplish, and on our last night, at the request of my very bookish daughter, we stopped at this charming book store on Columbus.

It was an awful night weather-wise in the city – rainy, windy and cold – so browsing around this cozy, charming bookstore was even more delightful. It was just my daughter and I…hubby and my youngest opted to stay by the car.

In the back of the store there was an old gentleman sitting across from a woman with a little dog. They were chatting…or rather she was talking. As I meandered through the aisles looking the books and the kitschy knick knacks, I could hear her droning on about how her parents raised her the right way…weekends at museums, culture, art, moving on to a second conversation about how WASpy certain neighborhoods were getting.

My daughter had to pee, and I found the bathroom in a little alcove behind where the woman and man were sitting. After she went, I decided to empty my tank as well. When I went to flush the toilet, rather than the water flushing down the toilet, all it did was rise to the rim.

Yikes! Luckily there was a plunger next to the toilet. It’s an old building with old plumbing, so I shrugged and attempted to unclog the toilet. I plunged for a good 2 or 3 minutes, but the water never went down. Oh well, I tried.

I left the bathroom to go tell the man behind the counter when the dog woman said, “I’m going to use the bathroom before I head home.”

Ruh roh.

I turned to her and said, “You might not want to go in there. The toilet is stopped up. I’m going to report it now.”

She looked at me and went into the bathroom anyway. Ok…it’s not like I didn’t warn you. When I went to tell the dude behind the counter, he was helping someone, so I stood waiting, browsing books until I could talk to him.

The woman, holding her little yippy dog, comes out from the bathroom, approaches me and says, “That toilet is really backed up. There is water on the floor and the water is up to the rim.”

I say to her, “I know. I tried my best to plunge it…”

Before I could finish my sentence, she looks down at me and says, “Do you think it was right to clog the toilet like that? Do you think a clogged toilet is a good thing?”

To say I was flabbergasted was an understatement. This pretentious, self-righteous bitch as insinuating that I PURPOSELY clogged the toilet.

I look at her straight in the eye and said, “No, I do not think that a clogged toilet is a ‘good thing.’ It’s an old building. I told you the toilet was clogged.”

She turned and approached the check out counter, placing her purchase down, and says, “I just want to let you know that your toilet is clogged. I can’t conclude with any certainty how it got clogged” – at this point she looks over her shoulder at me, and continues – “I’ve been coming here for years, and rarely have to use the bathroom. I find it disappointing that it was clogged on the rare occasion I needed to use it.”

After she side-eyed me, placing blame at my feet, I gave her the double fuck-you-middle-finger flip off behind her back. I’m pretty sure the employee saw it though.

She continued to complain, saying “it was the end of the day, so it’s understandable,” and he informs her they had been having trouble with the toilet all day. She then picked up her purchase and walked into the cold night.

I was furious. This was one time I wished I we’re a person who can deal with confrontation. I would have liked to have gone up to her, got respectably in her face, and asked her if she had nothing better to do on a Saturday night than to berate a mother from Virginia over a stopped up toilet.

When we were leaving and paying for our purchase, I apologized to the store employee for being the cause of him having to listen to the bitchy dog lady whine about the bathroom. I told him I tried my best to plunge the toilet, and he looked at me and thanked me for trying. This was obviously something privileged, rich-bitch dog lady would never stoop to do.

I’ll tell you one thing though. She is lucky my husband was standing by the car. Had he been there to witness her treatment of me, he would have reduced her to tears in a matter of minutes. It would have been an encounter that would’ve haunted her for years.

She might have felt good about belittling me, but that yippy dog yenta dodged a bullet that night. No, not a bullet…an Italian F-bomb is more like it.

I don’t think it’s possible to be female in the workforce without having a couple of #MeToo stories, especially not if you’ve been a working gal since 1986.

My first encounter with sexual harassment occurred at my very first job. I was a graphic designer for Tiger Beat magazine. It was the 80’s – I was in my 20s and had a good body. Yes, I’ll admit, I wore the obligatory mini skirts and large hoop earrings.

I was in the elevator heading back up to my offices after lunch. There were two salesmen in the elevator with me…one who worked for my company and one who was a stranger to me. The stranger motioned towards me with a nod of his head and said, “I wouldn’t mind a piece of that.”

As if that weren’t bad enough, my company’s salesman said in return, “Believe me, you don’t want any.” Then the door opened and they walked out.

I was furious. While my fear of confrontation kept me from screaming in the face of that scuzzy salesman, I was angry enough to report him to the higher ups. So, I went to my publisher, an older gentleman, and told my story. With a patronizing tone he told me that comments of that sort were to be expected, especially when you wear short skirts and tight outfits.

After hoisting my jaw off the floor, I told him if that was  “company policy,” then I demanded that the men in my department wear pants wth at least 3 pleats. Who knows..I may not be able to control myself around all those good looking men in tight jeans…I may be forced to grope someone.

He laughed it off and dismissed me, but I was pissed. I also gave that salesman dirty looks for the remainder of my tenure at Tiger Beat Magazine.

The second time I felt the workplace ogles was when I had finally landed a job back in my field of graphic design. I had been working as a waitress for a while when I finally got wind of a job at a design agency in Soho. I met with the boss for an interview on a weekday night at a bar in the city.

It didn’t take long for me to realize this guy was a sleaze. He told me during the interview that perhaps he should consider dating me rather than hiring me. I pretty much ignored the red flags for the opportunity to work in my field again.

I worked for this pig for less than a year. The final straw was, as I sat with my legs crossed at my desk, he walked by, ran a finger up my leg and said, “Sweetheart, it’s time for a shave.” I quit that job to work as a cashier in a liquor store in Jersey. From swanky Soho to wearing a blue Bottle King vest in a strip mall off Route 46.

But I never regretted leaving. He begged me to stay. In the end he offered me full health coverage, parking and tolls thrown in. No thanks. I’d rather bag pints of vodka for functioning alcoholics.

It really sucks that so many women have to endure these Me Too moments…times when you just have to suck it up and take it for the sake of a paycheck, or health coverage, or God forbid, advancement.sexual-harassment-at-work

 

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In late May of 2016, I unknowingly took my last drive down to see my father in Palm Coast, Florida.

We usually head East on I-64 and then hit I-95 for the duration of the 11 hour drive. But this year hubby got the idea for us to take an inland route to try and shave some time off our journey. In retrospect, this wound up being a huge bummer.

First of all, we got lost pretty early on. There was an exchange outside Farmington, VA that we totally missed, and we travelled a good 15 or 20 miles before I figured out something was amiss. We needed to turn around and go back.

But rather than backtrack to the place where we missed the turn, we tried to navigate our way through backroads in an attempt to recoup the time we had lost. And in doing that, we got even more lost.

For me, it wasn’t so much the getting lost that still remains with me today. It was the countryside we got lost in. We passed through several small Virginia towns that at any other time might have seemed quaint or charming.

But in late May of 2016? It was wall to wall trump signs. That entire, miserable trip down to my dad’s was nothing more than a marathon of small, trump-loving country towns. I feel like had we taken our usual route down I-95, I may not have been so assaulted with signs proclaiming support for the lying, orange conman.

And to make matters worse…we took the same way back home.

My dad died shortly after we got back from that trip. So the memory of my last journey to Florida? Yeah, it’s really marred. It’s soiled. It’s tarnished. It is also eerie. My dad hated trump as much as I do. He never got to cast his vote for Hilary.

That endless parade of trump signs? They haunt me. Especially now when the country is spiraling into disaster. It would have killed my dad. Seriously. Had he not died before the election, I think he would have given up by now.

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I can recall the day I decided to stop ordering drinks at restaurants. We were at a TGI Fridays, and we only ordered a few appetizers to share trying to keep costs down. Yet when the bill came, it was still super-expensive.

So I looked at the bill. $12 of it was soft drinks….sodas and my iced tea. TWELVE DOLLARS. For that amount of moolah one of us could’ve ordered a burger, and it was only for drinks.

So I turned to my girls and said, “Next time we eat out, let’s not order soda…we’ll just drink water.” And that’s just what we did.

And you know what? Nobody suffered without their Diet Coke, and although my usual beverage of unsweet tea with lemon would’ve been nice, water whet my whistle just fine. The best part? I really noticed the difference in the bill.

My husband is a professional soda drinker, and he’s the only one I have not been able to lure to the water side. He will still order a soda when we go out, but it’s okay. This way if one of the girls DO want to indulge in a sip of sugary sweetness, they just take a taste of Dad’s.

I figure I’ve saved myself at least $500 in the past few years by just cutting soft drinks from our lunch/dinner selections.

It’s an eating out strategy I am super proud of.

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Have you ever heard of the word “snork?” If not, read the urban dictionary definition above.

Yes, it’s that gross sound someone makes when their nasal passages are filled with snot, but rather than grab a tissue and discretely and privately blow their nose, they choose option B…which is to suck said snot up their nose and swallow it. AKA the snork.

It’s a disgusting sound – loud, wet and rattling – a sound that cuts through the air and makes those who are forced to hear it shudder. Or gag.

That being said, let me share a little something with you. I have a co-worker who snorks continually, all day, every day. She’s not sick. She does not complain of constant sinus problems. She just snorks. She’ll be standing over my desk, discussing an ad design with me, and before long I am forced to hear 4 ounces of phlegm travel up her nose and into her throat.

It’s worse after she sneezes. She has one of those stunted sneezes…not a hearty “achoo!” at all. It sounds as if she is swallowing the sneeze, and to make it worse, she’ll “sneeze” about 7 times in a row. And then…then comes the snorking. Over and over again, every 15 seconds or so. *SNORK!*  *SNORK!*

I am certain she has swallowed at least 43 gallons of snot since she began working here.

How does someone develop such a disgusting habit? I mean, she’s a grown woman with children. I don’t know how she has gone this far in life without someone taking her aside and asking her if she’s ever heard of a tissue. Or that foreign practice of nose-blowing.

She did this continual and constant snorking once during a staff meeting, where the entire office was present. It was so gross to hear, and I’m still baffled that not one person called her on it. We have some folks here who can take being snarky to an Olympic level…but not a peep from anyone.

Maybe it’s just me.

Nah…it can’t be. It’s too gross a sound. I guess everyone is too chicken-shit to call her out on it. I just hope I don’t snap one day, stand up and scream…”WILL YOU PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST BLOW YOUR NOSE!”

I really don’t want that to happen. I’ve already snapped at her for being a control-freak-know-it-all. I can’t handle being the snork police as well.

Oh God…she just sneezed….

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Today is my mom’s birthday. She’s been gone for 23 years now, and of course, I still miss her. My mom was a warm hug. It’s really the perfect way to describe her. You never doubted her love for you, unless you pissed her off, and even then, it took very little to get back in her good graces.

As I think about my relationship with my daughters, I can see some parallels between our relationship, and the one I had with my mom.

Mom would wake me up with a song when I would retreat under my blankets on a cold November morning.  Usually it was “Life is just Bowl of Cherries.” I don’t know why she chose that song, but it became synonymous with my mom’s cheerful, coaxing method of rousing us from our beds.

I do the same with my girls…but I use a song I wrote myself. Even at 22 & 15, some mornings my daughters beg me to sing it for them as they snuggle under the blankets for one minute more. I like to think they will sing it to their children one day.

My mom showed a lot of love – and not just through hugs. She was a great cook. Nothing gourmet, but just good, homey food. Pot roast, roast beef, great spaghetti sauce, and soups that I still crave to this day. She was also great about taking us shopping. My dad might bitch at her when the bills came due, but I would rock those new jeans she bought me like it was nobody’s business.

I try to do the same. My girls and I hug a lot, and there’s a lot of “love you’s.” As for the cooking? I’m not in the same ballpark as my mom. I’m not even tailgating in the parking lot of the ballpark. But I can make mean chicken soup, creamed spinach, and palacinke. My meatballs aren’t too bad, and I make a passable ziti. And shopping? I can’t tell you how many times I put off buying new sneakers, or a purse so my girls could get some new shirt or dress.

And they appreciate it. They will hug me and thank me for a good meal, or that pair of shoes. They tell me their friends think I’m a “cool mom.” Everyone loved my mom too. I get tons of Facebook messages from folks who remember my mother fondly.

One difference between my mom and me is the amount of openness about uncomfortable subjects. My mom was not the type to sit you down and tell you the facts of life. I knew about getting my period from girlfriends and movies at school. When my period started, I went to our local pharmacy, charged a box of maxi pads, and that’s how she found out I’d finally joined the ranks of womanhood.

Although she had an interesting life before she married my dad, she rarely shared anything about it. I know she lived and worked in Miami for a while after high school, and that her family life growing up was somewhat strained. Other than that…she was just my mom, with little to no history before she became “mom.”

In contrast, I try to be very open with my girls regarding boys, sex and their bodies. I say “try” because my oldest daughter wants nothing to do with conversations of that ilk with dear old mom. She’s very private.

My youngest? She’ll ask me anything and everything. She’ll talk to me while toweling off after a shower, not caring in the least that I see her naked. I helped show her how to use tampons. You don’t get much closer than that.

I also share my past with my girls. Rarely do we take a half hour drive where at some point I turn the radio down to tell them some stupid little tale from my past. Just this morning on the way to school, I told them about a club I frequented when I lived in Vienna for a semester.

Hell, it’s why I write this blog. I started it when I realized I knew zero about my mom’s history. So I tell my stories, so that they can always look back and see what there dear old mamsh (nickname) was up to in her youth.

So mom, on your birthday, I dedicate this blog to you. Your love, warmth and support showed me how to be the mother I am to my two girls. And I know they really appreciate it. You might not have been here for their lives, but you gave them a pretty awesome gift in showing me how to rock the role of Mom.

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I really dig old movies. Growing up there were many times I would stumble across some movie on AMC or TCM, give it a few minutes and get drawn into the story.

Five of my favorites have one thing in common. Ward Bond. This dude made hundreds and hundreds of pictures…sometimes just bit roles, others major players. I don’t know when I realized that this guy kept popping up in all my favorite movies, but time after time, I’d be like…Hey! There’s Ward Bond again!

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Movie 1 – The Grapes of Wrath
I love this book, and I love this movie. Bond had a bit part as a motorcycle cop giving the Joad family the low-down on work in the area.

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Movie 2 – The Fighting Sullivans
This is one of those movies I stumbled across on a Saturday afternoon – I think I was in my late teens. I got caught up in the story of 5 brothers who did everything together, including joining the Navy in WWII. Bond, in another small role, plays Commander Robinson, who has to deliver the sad news that all five Sullivan boys died in the line of duty. It’s a tissue-worthy scene.

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Movie 3 – Gone With the Wind
Another small role for Bond, but in one of the greatest movies of all time.  In this classic, he plays Tom, a Yankee captain who comes to arrest Ashley Wilkes for leading a raid on a shantytown. His attempts are thwarted when Rhett swears that Ashley was with him at the home of Belle Watling, the local prostitute. Bond leaves without Ashley, and with his tail between his legs.

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Movie 4 – Mr. Roberts
Playing the role of Chief Petty Officer Dowdy, Ward Bond joined the crew aboard a United States Navy cargo ship during WWII, mercilessly ruled by James Cagney. If you’ve never seen it, add it to your list. With a cast that includes Henry Fonda and Jack Lemmon, you can’t go wrong.

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Movie 5 – It’s a Wonderful Life
Good old Burt the Cop…Remember the scene where Burt, Ernie and George are ogling Violet as she walks down the street in her pretty dress? Burt says, “I think I’ll go home and see what the wife is doing.” I don’t know about you guys, but I think old Burt was looking for a little afternoon delight.

In conclusion
I didn’t realize until this morning that Ward Bond was kind of a Hollywood douche. According to IMDB Bond was “perhaps the most vehement proponent, among the Hollywood community, of blacklisting in the witch hunts of the 1950s, and he served as a most unforgiving president of the ultra-right-wing Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals. ”

Sorry, in my book, that sucks. I loved you in the movies, but screw you Ward Bond.

thomas_mitchellAn interesting side note…
There is one other actor who shares the screen in 3 of the above-mentioned movies. Thomas Mitchell plays Uncle Billy in It’s a Wonderful Life, Gerald O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, and Tom Sullivan in The Fighting Sullivans

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During my last doctor’s visit, while my numbers still needed improving, he was impressed with the amount of walking I did. Most months I walk around 65 miles, and while I was hoping to keep that up, August happened.

I’m not a fan of August now that I’m older. When I was young it was prime summer vacation time…hot, trips to the pool, weeks spent on Martha’s Vineyard. But now? It’s just hot…too hot to walk other than in the early morning. And add to that equation the fact that my daughter starts school the 2nd week of August, and my morning walks go out the window.

But I really didn’t even walk on the weekends. I’m not sure why. I was being lazy, I guess.

But today dawned cool and rainy…what is left of Harvey is paying us a visit. And while I can forgive myself for letting August slip away, I won’t let that same mistake happen in September. So I grabbed my umbrella and did my morning walk – just a little over a mile and a half.

It felt good.

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The world went berserk the other day when Melania trump showed up with don the con to survey the damage of hurricane Harvey in a pair of 5 inch stiletto heels.

I was one of them. I want to try to explain why this made me angry.

It was pouring rain here in Virginia on Monday. When I was dressing for work, I thought about what I should wear, because, like I said, it was raining. I’d have to walk from my parking lot to my office, and knowing I would encounter several puddles, I chose to wear my sneakers.

So when Melania knew she was going to a flood zone, an area ravaged by 2 days of rainfall, she chooses to wear fuck me pumps. Why? Because she is totally out of touch with reality.

She’s been lavished with money and privilege for so long that she need not worry about stupid little details like stepping in puddles or remembering your umbrella. She is used to stepping directly from limo to Neiman Marcus without a drop of rain hitting her perfectly coiffed head.

She made no effort to appear humble, or ordinary, or commonplace. She feels the need to be stunning at all times. She has no clue that appearing in Houston in an outfit that probably cost more than most people make in a week is offensive.

Just like her stupid, dimwitted, lying husband, she is clueless as to what being a real American is about. Just stick to your ivory tower, FLOTUS…you don’t fit in out here with the rest of us.