Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Feed the World

When I was a kid, my Uncle George (the only uncle I have whom I’ve ever addressed with his English name) had the best record collection. He had a stereo in the basement, where my brothers, sisters and cousins would all hang out when we were visiting the great old Victorian that they lived in.

The basement was fully furnished. One side, if you turned left at the bottom of the stairs, was set up with a bar, and he had lighted Tuborg beer signs on the light wood paneled walls. Bench seats were built into both sides along the walls, and the center of the room was left empty—plenty of room for a bunch of kids to bounce around as they danced to George’s Rolling Stones and Beatles records.

The other room, a right from the bottom of the stairs, was the stuff of imagination. The only source of light in the room was recessed into the walls, to illuminate whatever he had displayed on insets in the walls. There was a huge drafting table on the far wall, and that’s where the stereo and the records were stored. We had to stand on a chair to reach the record player to change the record, or to move the needle back so that we could play the same song over and over again.

To the right, just as you walked into the room was a small work bench with shelves above it. On the shelves were numerous beakers, a Bunsen burner lighter (you know, one of those squeeze-y things with the flint in the metal cup), test tubes, and a vial with litmus papers in it. I still have no idea what Uncle George was doing with all this stuff; I suspect that these items were just a part of his eclectic collection. At the time I pictured Uncle George wearing a lab coat and swirling some unknown liquid in a beaker on the days when we weren’t visiting. He’d take the rubber stopper off a test tube and sniff the contents of the test tube, then dip a piece of litmus paper in it and examine the paper under the short fluorescent light that hung over the bench. Then he’d frustratedly pour something else into the beaker and swirl it around again. Then, disgusted, he’d put it all away and go upstairs for dinner.

He also had old army stuff on display in the room—old helmets, a gas mask, and a huge military radio system in the middle of the room about which we used to fight over who got to be Radar when we were playing M*A*S*H. Next to George’s vinyl collection, the military radio--complete with headphones, and numerous cords, switches, and plugs—was the coolest thing in the basement.

But his record collection still held the number 1 spot for coolest thing in Uncle George’s basement. On one visit Uncle George held up a record for me and explained that all the better songs were on side A, while all the other songs that the band didn’t like as much were on side B. I recited all the Rolling Stones songs that I liked, and he concurred with me on most them. He wasn’t entirely convinced that “Ruby Tuesday” was the world’s best song, but said he understood why I thought so.

When I was 10, I saw the video to Band Aid’s “Feed the World” which was the British pop singers equivalent to the “We Are the World” that the American pop stars put out sometime around 1984-1985. I declared “Feed the World” way cooler than “We Are the World,” and found vindication when the record showed up in George’s collection. I was visiting one afternoon when my cousin Joanna put the song on. Then we listened to it a dozen times more, and tried to identify the names of the singers. We easily picked out Boy George and Simon LeBon, and we tolerated Bono as he sang. (I wonder if now Joanna, just like me, tolerates Boy George and Simon LeBon and smiles when she hears Bono’s voice.)

Every year I look forward to hearing “Feed the World” on the radio at Christmas time. It brings back the excitement when I saw it in Uncle George’s collection and the afternoon I spent with Joanna listening to the song. But it also makes me a bit sad every time I hear it. The song is actually quite a sad song, designed to make the listener feel guilty and donate to the cause of feeding the world. The first time I hear the song every year, without fail, I start to cry. I call myself a big dork, and laugh as I brush the tears off my cheeks.

Today I was in my car doing the last bits of Christmas shopping. I endlessly pressed the scan button, looking for “Feed the World.” I lamented hearing the “War is Over” John Lennon Christmas song, I rolled my eyes at “Santa Baby” and I gritted my teeth against that piece of crap “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time” and once again wonder how nobody has yet gotten around to destroying every copy of that song in circulation.

Just as I got back into my car, I heard the familiar chimes . I squealed in delight and cranked the volume up, and was instantly transported to Uncle George’s basement.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

A Conundrum, A Dilemma, and a Wow

Can anyone explain this to me?

Last Thursday I mailed 2 packages from the East Greenwich, RI post office. They were both addressed to my sister and niece, in a Los Angeles, CA suburb. I spoke to my sister last night, and she said that the one addressed to my niece arrived on Saturday. The one addressed to my sister, however has not. I just checked the tracking number and see that it’s now in Nashua, New Hampshire.

Why on earth would a package from Rhode Island, bound for California, be in New Hampshire? Why didn’t it go on the same path as the other package with the same address? This makes no sense to me. At all. You’d think it would be somewhere like Chicago. But no. It’s in New Hampshire. Maybe it needs to go to Nova Scotia first?


I have not finished my Christmas shopping. Not even close. I have approximately 13 people left to shop for. And I also have 4 dogs to shop for. Heaven help me. Most of those 13 people are nieces and nephews. I have 12 nieces and nephews, and now they are all getting older. The oldest of the bunch is 14, and the youngest is 3. The ones under the age of 10 are easy to shop for, as all I need to get them is any toy. The older ones are a bit harder. Every year I agonize over what to get them. I want each present to be memorable, and I don’t want to insult their intelligence by getting them something that’s too young for them either. I don’t want to sell out and get them clothes either. I want them to open something fun on Christmas. Fun presents for teenagers ends up being a bit more expensive. But they all have iPods now, and the like. Teenagers tend to like the bigger ticket items when it comes to toys, and I am out of ideas. I don’t want to spend the entire evening tonight taking items off shelves, putting them back again, just to pick them up again in a fit of indecision. Any suggestions?

My nieces and nephews have restored my love for Christmas. When they were all small, I loved sitting back and watching them squeal with delight after Christmas Eve dinner as they tear through the wrapping paper. It would warm me from inside out when they would latch onto the toy that I bought for them, above all other presents under the tree. This is the reaction I want to have every year with them. I think I am putting too much pressure on myself.


And finally a mind blowing thought for today. What exactly is the difference between a million and a billion?

1 million seconds is equivalent to 11 days, 20 hours, 4 min and 4 sec. 1 billion seconds is equivalent to 31 years, 251 days, 13 hours, 34 minutes, and 26 seconds.

I’ve been alive approximately 1,097,539,200 seconds, as I am 34 years, 9 months and 18 days old. So, I’ve been around for a billon and change seconds.

My dad, who is 70 years, 10 months and 12 days old has been alive for approximately 2,234,822,400 seconds. Dad, whom I often call “older than dirt” is more than 2 billion seconds old.

My cousin’s 3 month old baby is 102 days old. She’s been alive for approximately 8,812,800 seconds. An infant is only 8.8 MILLION seconds old.

I am ruined for the rest of the day. My mind is completely blown.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Whale Sharks Just an Arm's Length Away

The first time we went to Atlanta we were woefully unprepared for the onslaught of really great restaurants. We stayed in a hotel downtown and were given a list of recommended restaurants by the front desk. The list was 3 pages long, and was printed on both sides of the paper. This time around we expected that our trip would be punctuated by one terrific meal after another, with a dive with the whale sharks in the Georgia Aquarium for dessert.

On Monday we left Alon’s Bakery (oh, Alon, if I wasn’t already married…) after another wonderful lunch and said to Todd “We should be careful when we go on the dive today, they’re going to mistake us for whale sharks and forget to let us out of the tank.”

We arrived at the aquarium after lunch, already familiar with the exhibits. On Sunday we spent the entire day there exploring every gallery. We stared in awe at the gorgeous whale sharks as they lazily swam through the water. We watched the beluga whales gracefully turn somersaults through the water, with a grin on their faces. Our mouths hung open at the sight of the giant reef whose tank arched over our heads. Words cannot do the aquarium justice. The habitats are beautiful, the animals graceful and plentiful. We also took a behind the scenes tour on Sunday afternoon, and learned a great deal about how the animals live at the aquarium. How their food is prepared, how they are cared for and we watched the caretakers feed the belugas and the whale sharks.

On Monday the anticipation bubbled inside of us. We geared up and sat on a dock on the edge of the Ocean Voyager exhibit and watched the four whale sharks circle below us, the largest one measured 26 feet long. We watched the hammer head shark skulk around near the bottom, and the 9 foot long manta ray flap along around the edges of the tank. The dive masters helped us into our gear, and we dropped into the water.

The 75 degree water gave me a bit of a chill at first as I descended to the bottom. I clenched my teeth just to keep my regulator in my mouth, because I knew that my mouth would hang open and I’d drop it. Five thousand fish swirled around me as I kneeled on the bottom. The whale sharks circled above us.

We were led in a figure 8 pattern through the tank, as groupers and hump head rasses approached to investigate and massage themselves on our bubbles. A whale shark passed to our left, close enough so that Todd could barely extend his arm and touch it, if we were allowed to touch them. The hammer head shark swam directly in front of us, his tail fin a mere centimeter from Todd’s face.

We waved at the visitors who watched us on the other side of the glass. We kneeled at the bottom again and just watched the fish in the habitat in 3D as they approached us, and they swam in their patterns.

The dive master gave the thumbs up sign, and we grudgingly approached the surface, turning circles the whole way so we could just take in a few more minutes of this magical habitat that we were lucky enough to visit for just a half hour.

We surfaced and I wondered if the dive masters would notice if I just grabbed another tank and descended again.


Friday, December 12, 2008

It’s Like the Last Day of School

Tonight we are getting on a plane bound for Atlanta. Todd’s birthday is in a few weeks and as a surprise I bought us a dive excursion in the Georgia Aquarium. On Monday we’ll dive in an aquarium full of whale sharks. Whale sharks! Our suitcases are packed and they’re in the car, the dogs are also in the car waiting to go to kennel at lunch time.

I can’t concentrate on anything except the whale sharks that I’ll meet on Monday. I also cannot shake the feeling that I’ve forgotten something of critical importance at home. That feeling will pass once I figure out which travel site Todd used to book the tickets so I can print out the itinerary. At the moment I not only have no idea which airline we’re flying on, but I also have no idea when the plane leaves. Our departure time is set for, roughly, some time after work tonight.


Last night, while distractedly lobbing random articles of clothing into the suitcase, I had the honor of participating in Mr. Taoist Biker’s blog radio show. We talked about our family’s Christmas tradition. He talked about the Southern Christmas, and I talked about what I like to call “A Very Polish Christmas.” It was a lot of fun, and I’d like to thank my blog pal Taoist Biker, a.k.a. Bitch Taoista, for a good time last night.

In the mean time, I watch the clock and try to convince myself that it hasn’t just run backward.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Swanson The Christmas Tree

Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for my man, or tree, Swanson. Just to give you some perspective, I am 5'8". Swanson is almost twice my height.

I love Swanson.

This is our feeble attempt at a family portrait. Normally the dogs are very photogenic, but Nemo couldn't seem to stay still.

This is an ornament that Carol from Not Exactly the Brady Bunch gave to me a few years ago. It's a copper piece shaped like the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I love its simplicity, yet it's such an original looking ornament that adds so much to our eclectic collection of ornaments. Thank you, Carol.

When Todd and I moved in together in 1998, we lived in this bitchen apartment in Brighton, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. We didn't go and cut our own tree, we went down to the corner, as we lived in the city. I bought him a set of 4 ship in a bottle ornamentsthese ornaments for his birthday and started the tradition of buying an ornament for each other each Christmas. Which reminds me, I need to do that for this year.

I bought this one for him the year we bought the dive shop.

This was the one that Todd bought for me last year. Yes, he bought me an ornament that resembles a food I hate.

This was the one I bought for him last year. I also broke it this year when I dropped it on the hardwood floor. Todd managed to fix it with a tube of "Future Glue" that we bought at the truck stop. The concept of Future Glue cracks me up. I swear I could see three seconds into the future when Todd applied the glue, and in response I grabbed a fistful of paper towels to clean up the dripping glue.

Here's Swanson, all dolled up.

Here's Swanson, looking artistic. Or it's me taking bad pictures again.

Happy Holidays, Internet.


Damn You, Jillian Michaels

I’ve been very very lax about exercise. I long for my unemployed days of last winter, when I used to go to the gym for hours at a time. The numbers on the scale registered 10 less then they do now, my running sneakers sit by the door and do not reek of fresh sweat. My running partner, Griffen, hasn’t sniffed anything on the side of the road in months now.

I used to be the one who got up at some obnoxiously early hour to run. I also used to be the one whose jeans fit. Then I was hired by an employer who expects me to be on the job at 8 AM. Then the clocks turned back and it’s pitch dark on my street so that I cannot see where I am running if I try to jog in the evenings. Pot holes and ankles are NOT friends.

Then I discovered that we have free exercise shows beamed into our living room via the wonders of cable TV. For the last two days I have done Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred after reading rave reviews about it all over the Internet. I did the workout last night when I got home from work and then again this morning before work. The workout is only 20 minutes long, but it’s a 20 minutes that is chock full of activity that had me doubled over and panting a few times scrambling for the glass of water left on the coffee table who knows when which who knows what floating on the surface.

My thighs burn and feel like they will give out when I walk down stairs to the point where I am white knuckling the handrails. My arms ache when I lift them up. This morning in the shower I could barely control my hands as I tried to wash my face. Rather than apply the Cetaphil to the face, I lightly grazed the tip of my nose with it and ended up with the cleanser on my scalp and on the edge of my ears—and still considered it a job well done.

I have resumed my love affair with ibuprofen and Tylenol. Though I’ve been scouring the medicine cabinet for something stronger of the prescription variety. Would it be wrong to take Griffen’s pain killers from his tooth removal operation?


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tis The Season to Hoark Your Guts Out

Picture it. Christmas 1997.

Todd and I had been going out for six months. For the holiday I went home to Connecticut to see my family for Christmas Eve. During the day I babysat my niece Maggie (then three years old) and nephew Krystian (then 1.5 years old) during the day while my brother and sister-in-law ran a few last minute Christmas errands. They dropped off Maggie and Krys at my parents house and I watched them while Mom cooked the Christmas Eve dinner. I changed a few diapers on Krys in that time, wiped a nose or two, and of course hugged, kissed and cuddled the stuffing out of my niece and nephew. I was thrilled to be an aunt at Christmas. I was also thrilled to be going to Vermont the next morning to see my boyfriend for Christmas. The plan was to do Christmas day with his family, and then we’d ski for another day of the long weekend. Life was good.

I left for Vermont from my Uncle Joe’s house, where my insanely huge Polish family congregated for Christmas breakfast after church that morning. “Merry Christmas!” I called out as I put my jacket on before leaving Joe’s house. “I am going to Vermont to see my boyfriend now!” I cranked up the radio and headed north up interstate 91 as fast as the snowy conditions would allow. I arrived in Vermont, and was greeted with hugs, kisses, an “I really really missed you” and a beautiful ruby ring from my boyfriend. We sat down to a lovely Christmas dinner that his mom made. I was still a vegetarian then, and I sampled the non-meat options from the table. We sat around and spoke about what we are all thankful for, we toasted, and we began to dig in to dinner.

Then I felt it.

The quease in my stomach.

The sour taste in my mouth.

The sudden loss of appetite.

The need to just lie down flat for a moment.

I excused myself from the table with barely two words and made my way through the house to Todd’s old bedroom. Instead of the bedroom I stumbled into the bathroom, kicked the door shut, planted my face into the toilet and proceeded to get violently ill. I remained in the bathroom for the duration of Christmas dinner and I am sure that hearing me hoark my guts out completely killed everyone’s appetite at the table.

Puke Fest ‘97 continued well into the night. Of course the bathroom is right off the living room at my in-laws house. Of course they could hear every retch clear as day as they sat in the living room trying to watch a movie. Todd wiped my face and brushed the hair off my forehead. The room spun around me. I was sweaty and peeling off my clothes, only to shiver and blindly pull them back on again. I held onto the bathroom floor with all my remaining strength, praying that the house would stop moving for just a damn minute.

Around midnight Todd drove me to the emergency room. He patiently waited while I answered the barrage of questions from the nurse. Then I was checked into a small room and given something to settle my stomach, which I promptly threw up, so I was given it again, just to throw it up again. Finally I managed to feel the drowsy side effect of the drug. The nurses turned off the light in the room so I could rest. But then I’d deliriously scream Todd’s name. He came into the room and sat with me until I dozed off again, just to have to come in again when I started to scream his name again. My boyfriend sat in a pitch dark room for hours on end and held my hand as I slept. I have no recollection of any of this happening.

I was discharged from the hospital at an hour I can only describe as a million o’clock. Todd drove me home, and followed the doctor’s instructions to the letter. I was forbidden from drinking anything more than a sip of fluid, for fear that I would just throw it up again. I begged for the whole glass of water, but he only fed me a spoonful at a time. I swore at him, and probably called him a Nazi, yet he spoon fed me water despite my insults.

I managed to sleep, and to hold in more and more water. Todd ventured out the next day to rent a movie and to get me some Gatorade. He made some toast for me, and set me up on the couch. He left the toast on the ottoman. I dozed off without eating it. When Todd came home the toast was gone, and he asked me if I managed to keep it down. When I told him that I didn’t eat any of the toast, the dog began to lazily thump her tail on the floor.

By the end of the day, I was able to form a more coherent thought. I called home to see if any of my other family members were sick. It turned out that a stomach bug plowed its way through my family. My brother Kaz and his family were driving to Rochester, NY and both kids ended up sick in the car on the way. My brother Walter’s infant twins got it too, first one and then the other.

And somehow, after our glorious first Christmas, Todd still wanted to spend another eleven Christmases with me.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Insanely Jealous, Yet Ridiculously Proud

Last week I talked to my oldest brother, Walter, for a bit. I haven’t talked to Walter in awhile, and normally conversations with him are very on the surface. We don’t talk too much about the intricacies of our lives, and we don’t know much about what goes on day to day in each other’s lives because we talk so infrequently.

But on Friday we talked for a good 15 minutes, a record, and the conversation left me grinning ear to ear. Walter has 3 kids: a pair of boy-girl twins that are 11, and a daughter who just turned 9 last month. The twins started at a new school, a magnet school that is located about 30-40 minutes away from their town. The new school has had a very positive impact on my nephew, Robby. He hated going to school, refused to crack open a book and couldn’t get up out of bed in the mornings because he dreaded school so much.

This year is different. The bus picks up the twins at 6 AM, and Robby cannot seem to stay in bed at 5 when his alarm goes off. He leaps out and is ready to take on his day. Walter also reported that Robby can’t seem to put books down either. His approach to school has been the exact opposite of last year. He looks forward to it. He devours his homework. I could feel the pride come through the phone as Walter talked about him. I could just see the gleam in his eyes, and my pulse began to quicken in response.

Robby has been rewarded for his hard work and good grades with a once in a lifetime opportunity. He is going on a trip to Washington DC in late January. Specifically his trip will fall on January 20th. And while on his trip he will attend the Presidential inauguration. His school managed to secure a few dozen seats at the ceremony, and then they will attend a ball at night. Rumor has it, the new President will stop in at the ball and Robby might have a chance to see the President in person.

For that I am insanely jealous.

Yet I am also ridiculously proud.


Friday, December 05, 2008

I Think I’ve Seen Too Many Scary Movies

I gripped the flashlight and stumbled around in the dark of my house last night. I was on the phone with my sister, and suddenly the power went out. The lights in my kitchen went dark, the digital display on the stove turned off, the hum of the refrigerator and the computer in the office silenced. Stupidly I said into the dead phone, “C? C? Are you still there?” I stared up the stairs and briefly thought, “If I go up there, surely the bad guys won’t get me.” You know, the bad guys who just cut the power to the house and were secretly making their way into the foolishly left unlocked slider door.

We live in Rhode Island’s Snow Belt, and I suspect that we will lose power a few times over the winter once the snow falls. It hasn’t fallen in RI yet this season, which made last night’s outage more puzzling. We have a generator and our house is wired to run off gas power so that we can keep the bare minimum running: the fridge, the furnace, the wireless router, and lights in a few rooms of the house. We hadn’t yet bothered to get the gas cans filled for the generator. That is until last night.

I fumbled in the kitchen trying to find the flashlight we keep on hand for going out to the hot tub at night, careful to avoid the block where the knives are stored, lest I cut myself and attract a gang of marauding vampires. I managed to find it and instantly felt a little relieved when I switched it on. I’ve never felt entirely comfortable when alone in the dark. My overactive imagination started to take over, just as it had last spring when we first moved into the house. Visions of crazed, axe wielding former residents of the house lingering just beyond the glow of the flashlight took up residence in my brain. I listened for the tell-take creaks in the floor, as I had no ominous music from a soundtrack available to alert me to any danger. I’d been alone in my dark house prior to last night, but last night I was alone in a dark house that I couldn’t just light up again with a flip of a switch. I shined the light into each room; I decided not to go upstairs after all for fear of being trapped when the guy with the machete arrived.

I walked out the back door and into the night. My LED flashlight lit up not nearly enough of the path to the workshop where the empty gas cans were stored. My stomach turned as I heard a rustling in the woods, and frantically passed my flashlight over the direction of the noise. The beam of the flashlight rapidly passed back and forth until it rested on a rabbit. I had a vision of becoming Jodie Foster and having to turn rapidly and happen to shoot a psychopath wearing night-vision goggles, but realized I wasn’t holding a gun. I let out the breath I was holding and gathered up the gas cans and lobbed them into the back of the truck, a little more relieved at the glow from the headlights.

I drove down our street, which didn’t look all that different with the power out. We don’t have streetlights on our street. The only difference was that all the houses were dark, there were no Christmas lights on, and I saw a few flashlight beams bobbing along as my neighbors also fumbled along in the dark. On the way to the truck stop I never had the occasion to slam on the brakes in the truck to accommodate a bloody neighbor hobbling into the middle of the road in escape from some unseen serial killer wearing a hockey mask. I felt only half-relieved by this thought.

I stood at the gas pump and filled the gas cans, as a man filled his on the other side of the island. I didn’t make conversation for fear that he’d get the idea to follow me to my home, enter covertly and slash me with blades on the tip of each finger on his hand and then hole himself up behind my furnace. Of course he’d find a striped sweater in the laundry on the way, and pull that on over his head.

Twenty minutes or so after I’d gotten back from the gas station the lights came back on. Five minutes after that Todd got home. I put on my best well-adjusted wife face and welcomed him home. Had he gotten home when the house was still dark I suspect I may have swung a rolling pin at him. You know, just in case.


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Two Gallons and a Quart

I am getting an urge to go to the supermarket, march over to the very back of the store and hold a gallon of milk in each hand and then propping up a quart against my hip and the inside of my arm. I am also fighting the urge to walk around while holding all that milk for a little while.

It’s not that I have some immense craving for a very precise quantity of milk. I am only using milk as a comparison. Last night Todd and I stopped in at the Rhode Island Blood Center and we each donated a pint. It just occurred to me that over the years I’ve donated 2 gallons and a quart of blood in this state. I don’t remember how much I’ve ever donated while I lived in Connecticut or in Massachusetts. But I do recall two occasions on which I donated while I was living in Australia. If I had to guess, the total amount of blood I’ve ever donated, in gallons, is likely somewhere near four gallons. Four. Imagine four gallons of milk in your grocery cart. That’s how much of my blood is out there probably in somebody else’s body right now.

So, here’s my little public service announcement for today, because it is the season of giving. If you donate a pint of blood you can save a life. With so many people on the roads right now getting to and from holiday celebrations and out shopping, the likelihood of car accidents has increased dramatically. With increased accidents comes increased demand for blood.

Just think, by spending a half hour with a needle in your arm you could very well salvage somebody’s Christmas.



Wednesday, December 03, 2008

It Always Ends the Same Way

Why do I do it? Why? I know that the result will be the same every time. Yet, I torture myself again and again like some deranged lab rat that cannot seem to become discouraged by an undesirable response like an electric shock, or that awful bloated feeling in my belly.

I am talking about donuts. Fattening, sickening, disgusting Dunkin’ Donuts. One of my more misguided co-workers brought in a dozen Dunkin’ Donuts, and set the box on top of the file cabinet just 5 feet away from my desk. I pass by this file cabinet at least 11,763 times a day as I walk to my boss’s office, the printer and the shipping room. (But it could be worse, it could be on my way to the ladies room, so then I’d walk by it 13,856 times per day.)

I raided my snack drawer in hopes of silencing the call of the Boston crème donut in the box. I thoughtfully chewed on my Nature Valley maple brown sugar granola bar. I washed it down with water, and I chewed on the bar again. I closed my eyes and thought to myself, “You are not hungry. You just ate that granola bar. You’re all set now.”

I stood up, straightened my shoulders, and headed for the shipping room. I eyed the Boston crème, sitting in the box with its glossy chocolately surface shining in the fluorescent light. I swallowed my drool, and went into discuss matters of utmost importance in the shipping room (and by matters of utmost importance I mean my inability to remember a grocery shopping list, coupled with my uncanny ability to remember the license plate on my parents light blue Chevy Impala station wagon that they drove until I was 6 years old. It was KW 492, by the way.)

Before I knew what was happening I was tearing a paper towel off the roll, while singing the theme song to People’s Court with one of my co-workers, which also pertained to the discussion of matters of utmost importance in the shipping room. I tore the paper towel off the roll, and clutched it in my hand as I left the shipping room. I stopped in front of the file cabinet. THE file cabinet. The one with the donuts on it. Boston crème seduced me with promises of creamy deliciousness. I placed Boston crème on the paper towel, and bee-lined for my desk, in anticipation of creamy deliciousness.

I licked the chocolate off my fingers, and the crème off my lips. In a matter of seconds the donut was gone. I threw out the evidential paper towel, sighed with a momentary satisfaction. Then I felt it. I ran my tongue over the roof of my mouth and felt the filminess left behind by the donut. Dunkin’ Donuts always leave a layer of residue in my mouth that no amount of brushing will remove. Then I felt the other post-donut symptom. The heaviness in the stomach. The bloat. The ugh. The blah.

It happens every time, yet this time—like every other time—I thought it would be different.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Things I’ll Never Understand

Recently my mother-in-law told me a story about a woman she knew who was murdered near Rutland, VT a few weeks ago. She was murdered by her boyfriend who then called in sick to her employer on her behalf, and went on to live his life with her body still in the basement of their apartment house. Eventually those close to the victim became suspicious, and the police were dispatched to the house where they discovered that this woman had been bludgeoned to death. When the police interviewed other residents in the apartment house they learned that the women who lived upstairs from the couple had heard the couple fighting. They heard the woman screaming for help. They heard her screaming for someone, anyone, to call the police. The women upstairs didn’t think anything of it and ignored the woman’s screams.

Let me say that one more time. The victim was screaming for help and screaming for someone to call the police and these selfish assholes upstairs couldn’t be bothered to press three simple digits on their phone to help this woman.

Just imagine the heartache that could have been avoided had the neighbors acted. What the hell is wrong with people? I will never understand how anyone can hear another human being scream for help and do nothing about it.


Monday, December 01, 2008

All Grown Up and Nowhere To Go

I am 34 years old, and still do not feel entirely grown up. I like to think that I will never be a grown up, and a large part of me will still do things like drive too fast with the radio in the car blaring. On Thursday, Todd and I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time. It seemed like such a grown up thing to do. I set the table and actually cared about how the plates, napkins and silverware looked, and that they actually came from matching sets. Todd slaved over the stove, and I cleaned the house and fretted over dog hair on the furniture. The guests we had for dinner have been to dinner at our house a kabillion times, and don’t care about dog hair on the couch, or dust in the corner of the room. They’re our friends and our family and they came over to be with us.

But there’s something about hosting a big meal like Thanksgiving to force the inner adult to silence the inner child. I’ve seen people flip out over making Thanksgiving dinner the perfect meal that Martha Stewart would approve of. They scour the Internet for recipes and they make impossibly difficult centerpieces out of things like cranberries, pinecones and gourds. Todd and I survived our first Thanksgiving without freaking out too much about it. We had a lovely time with his parents and our friends. But I still don’t entirely feel grown up, even after hosting a major holiday meal.

Today I was looking at a picture of my sister C. In the picture, taken 5 years ago, she was my age and she’s holding her newborn 4th child. And it’s funny because I don’t think that a childless 34 year old and a 34 year old with 4 children really are the same age. We’ve taken different paths in life. Five years ago she gave birth to her 4th child, and I was getting married. Yet, if you put the two of us next to each other at age 34, she would instantly have more credibility as a grown up than I would. Never mind the fact that I’ve been in the working world and she’s largely been a stay-at-home mom. Never mind the fact that I’ve finished my master’s degree (she’s almost done with hers, just 3 more classes to go and just suck it up and finish, C!) I’ve learned to sail, owned my own business, and held I don’t even want to admit how many jobs. I’ve lived abroad, I’ve travelled alone, I’ve lived alone, and I’ve dated a lot of guys--all the things that my sister didn’t do. But somehow I feel like all that experience falls short compared to her giving birth to, nursing, potty training and raising 4 children.

Does having children force one to be a grown up? What exactly is a grown up? Am I just a “different kind” of grown up? And if so, why do I have a gigantic zit on my forehead?

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