Desk

My oldest son Jack moved out this week into his own apartment. We’re really going to miss him – the midnight snacks of sugared bacon and popcorn, watching movies, binge watching shows. 

Sam, Lindsay and I waved goodbye as he pulled out of the driveway in his overpacked truck.

“I call dibs on his closet!” Lindsay shouted.

“Heck no,” I said. “I get the closet.”

“You already have a walk-in closet.”

“Fair enough, I’ll split it with you.”

“Deal.” We shook on it.

“I want his room,” Sam declared, almost peeing in the corners to scent mark his territory.

“No!” I shook my head. “We just redecorated your room.”

“Fine. I didn’t want it anyway.” Sam walked away.

Jack had left behind some mementoes – things that have no place in a young man’s apartment, but are too precious to throw away; plus, he left some prime real estate, a bedroom with spectacular views and an empty closet.

I needed space. My desk butted up against my bed. The first thing I see in the morning is my computer screen. The cat steps on the keypad at all hours of the night sending the screen into an audible tizzy, like a machine gun going off. Everyone is at-home learning, crowded around the desk all the time. Our lives are too co-mingled.

My papers get mixed in with biology homework.

“Has anyone seen the phone bill?” 

This desk and I have been through a lot. The drawers are jammed with junk I couldn’t throw away, old greeting cards and fountain pens.  I’ve tried to clean them out, but it was too emotionally daunting. No matter how hard I pulled and tugged on those antique pulls, they pulled back.

I tried to move the desk into the new room, but it was too wide. No problem, I tilted it to the other side with the legs heading due south. I tilted to the other side with legs pointing due north. With that, the haunted drawers popped open spilling my memories onto the floor – photos of old boyfriends and dead pets, a Swiss army knife, sealing wax and a seal in the letter L. 

Old coins began to pour out like a slot machine. I tried to push the drawers back, but they wouldn’t budge. 

The legs splayed opened, “Your old baggage is not going inside this new space.”

“Come on!” I yelled.

I stood it upright, climbed up over the top and squeezed myself between the top door jam and the desk. From here I pulled and wiggled the desk legs.

For hours, I tilted, turned and flipped until it was firmly stuck in the door jam.

Sam knocked on the desk, “Mom are you in there?”

Defeated, “Yes,” I whimpered.  “Hmmm,” I picked up a baby photo of Jack, which prompted me to go through my memories, sorting them into 2 piles – keep and trash. What had taken 20 years to acquire only took 20 minutes to throw away. It was freeing.

The phone rang. It was my friend – aptly nicknamed “MacGyver.”

 “What are you doing?” MacGyver asked.

“I’m stuck in my new room.”

“How?”

“I jammed the desk.”

“Do you need help?”

“Yes.”

Minutes later there was a knock on the desk between us and I whined, “We have to take the door off.” 

“Did you try to take the legs off?” she asked.

“They’re glued in place,” I said.

She jostled the desk. “Not this one,” she declared while holding up one leg, and then the other. One minute later the desk was inside.

Now it sits cleanly in my new space, free of my old memories, while I’m surrounded by Jack’s old memories – and that’s just the way I like it.

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School Daze

Today was the first day of school for my kids Lindsay and Sam starting eleventh grade.

That’s a big deal. But it wasn’t a big deal. It was a broken deal. I thought we had a deal that we would all be back inside school, and here we are getting ready for the first day without the normal traditions. No new outfits to wear, no new backpacks overflowing with new books, pencils and papers.

I was mourning the fact that this one was my last first. My last photo-op of the two of them heading out the door, “first day of middle school,” “first day of 8th grade,”  “high school here we come.” Next year they’ll be seniors, probably driving themselves to school and leaving me in their dust.

Today, spirits were low. How could I help them navigate this unprecedented time?

Usually, Lindsay bounds out of bed trying on multiple outfits before deciding on the perfect one. While Sam waits until the very last minute to rise.

“Hurry up! We’re going to be late!” I chimed.

Not today.

At 8:30, Amazon’s Alexa sounded our school bell.

I could hear their computers starting, then I heard something I had never heard before.

I perked up.

“Good morning students.”

What? I thought. What is this? I’ve only been allowed to drop them off curbside, never a fly on the wall.

I stood right in between their two rooms and listened to the pre-roll call chatter.

“Lindsay how are you?” asked one student.

“Hi! I’m good.” She replied.

“Lindsay is that a new shirt?”

Some things never change.

Lindsay replied, “Yes, do you like it?”

Then another voice and another. I could feel her easing into this weird first day.

I had an idea.

As her Spanish class was getting started, I jumped into Mom-mode.

“Hola senorita Lindsay.”

“What are you doing?” she scowled.

“Let’s learn Spanish together. We can be a class,” I said.

“Let’s not,” Lindsay waved me off.

On Sam’s side, his biology class had already begun. I listened intently while his teacher asked difficult questions.

“Sam. Sam,” I whispered.

“What?!”

“You know these answers, raise your hand. Go on, it’s good to let the teacher know who you are right from the start.”

There was silence on the Zoom call. Sam glared at me and held up a handwritten note that read, “NOT ON MUTE”.

His teacher responded, “Thank you, Sam’s mother, for your important input.”

“Oops.” I started to leave, but not before raising my hand, “I know this answer. It’s…”

“MOM!”

“Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.” I backed away.

I had already memorized Lindsay’s schedule, so I knew her gym class was up next. I came prepared. This will be a great time for us to work out together.

I hopped into her room looking so cute: an exact replica of Olivia Newton-John wearing a hot pink headband, matching leg warmers and a workout suit.

“Let’s get physical, physical. Let me hear your body talk.” I gyrated.

“Is that your mom?” someone from inside her computer asked.

Horrified, Lindsay glared, “Mom, you have got to be kidding. Personal space.”

Later…

“We’re done.” Both kids exited their respective rooms.

“What do you mean? For nutrition?” I asked.

“No school for today.”

I protested, “It’s only 10:30!”

Sam beamed, “I know, isn’t it great?”

“What’s tomorrow’s agenda?”

They answered together, “NOTHING!”

Lindsay took charge, “We need to have a chat about rules and boundaries.”

I put my palm up, “talk to the hand, sistah.”

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Toothsome Trick

Four months of quarantine, three kids, one “grown-up,” two dogs, two cats and countless hours, with no end in sight – boredom has come, gone and returned. The wheels are coming off the cart, proving that idle hands are the devil’s workshop.

Sam, who is now 5’10”, was hanging over the sides of his upper bunk like Buddy the Elf. Time for a room makeover. In the process, we uncovered three baby teeth that the Tooth Fairy apparently missed taking them for her castle.

Sam screaked at the discovery, “Mom! Look what I found – baby teeth!”

“Whose?” I quizzed.
“I hope they’re mine. Gross,” he grimaced.

They were as small and sharp as they were when they had been inside his tiny mouth. I gathered them up with a tissue and tossed them away for good this time.

“Oh well, there’s another beloved legendary figure debunked,” I said.

But those teeth planted a seed. A plan was created, a plan so diabolical it was worthy of Edgar Allen Poe.

Days later, Lindsay let out one of her now famous bloodcurdling screams, “There are TEETH in my room!”

Again, I thought, wow I sucked at that job. When I walked in her room she was down on her hands and knees examining them.

“Are they dog teeth?” I asked.

“No.”

I bent down, “Oh yes, they’re teeth all right.”

Four of them scattered in different corners of her room. After I gathered them up, I took a closer look. These teeth were much shinier than Sam’s baby teeth. I threw them away.

The next morning, the same thing happened only this time there were double the amount of teeth, scattered more willy-nilly.

“Did we just miss them?” I asked.

“No, this is so creepy,” Lindsay replied while marching out to get the vacuum. Then she began sucking every inch of her carpet, combing through every thread to make sure she had gotten them all. Once satisfied she emptied the vacuum into the trash bin outside.

“Done.”

But that night, when she turned on her room light, there were more and more and more teeth.

“MOM, THIS HOUSE IS HAUNTED! TEETH! WHAT GHOST WOULD LEAVE TEETH? WHOSE TEETH? WHY TEETH?” She ran into my room and grabbed the matches and a bundle of sage off my desk.

Even I was getting a little concerned; this was very unusual even for our poltergeist.

“I am NOT going to sleep in that room until we burn this.” She lit the sage and danced around.

Of course, her drama got everyone’s attention and the boys came out of their respective bedrooms.

Jack asked with grave concern, “Lindsay, what is the matter?”

“Those teeth are back again in my bedroom. Some ghost keeps leaving TEETH!”

As with all well-executed pranks, there is a moment where you must witness your handiwork in action. This was genius.

Jack could not keep his laughter bottled up another second. “I got those teeth from a friend of mine; I’ve just been waiting for the perfect time to set them free on Lindsay,” he busted out.

“You planted teeth in my room?” She was horrified.

“Well FAKE teeth,” Jack corrected her, followed by a deep sigh in praise of his grand accomplishment.

I laughed so hard I feared my teeth would fall out.

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PEE

What is it about pee that is so gross? Just the word alone is funny – it blends beautifully with “fart.” But unlike its gaseous counterpart, it is a liquid, mostly water really.

If you think about it, in a worst-case scenario – I’m talking life or death – you could drink it. It holds some answers as to what is going on in our bodies. What comes out is a roadmap to what is going on inside.

My Labrador retriever, named Bullet, has been having some health issues recently, so I took him to see the vet.  He got a blood test, but these trained professionals were not able to get a urine sample from a dog, leaving me with the task at hand.

Early one morning, I took Bullet out for a walk and his morning constitutional. I followed close behind his behind, bent over with the pee cup at the ready. At each favorite bush he stopped and sniffed while I was poised to capture the golden shower, only to be taken off the scent when he would move on to another bush.

“Oh, come on,” I whined, “my back was killing me.”

Finally, with his leg raised to make his mark on the world, I positioned the cup and captured it all. Success, I thought, but with his sudden shift and a shake, he bumped into me sending the cup and its contents to the ground. Luckily enough, I snatched it up, rescuing a small dribble of a sample.

My children, Sam and Lindsay, were so grossed out by the idea they refused to help me.

“You know you have to pee in a cup when you get your physical tomorrow,” their brother Jack joked.

“What?” Sam questioned.

“No, you don’t,” I said, “he’s just teasing.”

Well, imagine my surprise when we went to the doctor. Panic pulsated through their veins.  “I thought you said we didn’t have to pee in a cup!”

With heads hanging low, they trotted off to their respective bathrooms. After five minutes, Lindsay triumphantly reappeared in the waiting room, which was now filled to capacity.

Minutes passed and no Sam. I texted him to make sure everything was alright.

“Here, Mom,” Sam said standing before me.

Habitually, without looking away from my phone, I reached up and grasped the cylinder. It felt warm against the palm of my hand. Suddenly, I was reminded of Bullet.

“Aaahhh!” I screamed, almost dropping it to the ground. “Sam! Don’t give it to me.”

“NOOO! You give it to the lady, not Mom!” Lindsay’s high-pitched scream got everyone’s attention in the waiting room.

“Oh, I’d stopped listening,” Sam shook his head.

Lindsay rolled her eyes, “You should really listen all the way through, you might learn something.”

Everyone in the waiting room scrambled for fear the contents might accidentally spill on them. With masked faces, I could see the horror only in their eyes.

Pandemic be damned at the fear of a young man’s urine. Social distancing was abandoned as twenty people hobbled, ran, rolled, pushed and prodded – anything they could to get away.

In the end, both Sam and Bullet needed allergy medication, which came in the same brown medicine vials, presenting infinite possibilities for confusion.

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BUNNY HOP

I was snuggled in bed with my book for the night when I heard it.

Squeak! Squeak!

It was so uniform in cadence it sounded more fake than real.

“Mom!” Lindsay shouted.

“I heard it!” Jack bolted out of his room.

With trepidation, I stepped inside Lindsay’s room with Jack at my heels.

Squeak! Squeak!

Lindsay pointed, “Over there.”

The flip of our cat Mae’s tail was a red flag that danger was near. Slowly, I pulled back the tapestry that my trendy 16-year-old-daughter used to replace her traditional closet door.

Fearlessly, Jack got down on his hands and knees, “It’s just a squeaky toy.”

Lindsay protested, “I don’t have squeaky toys!”

“It’s this rubber thing right here,” he said reaching out.

“Aahh!” Jack flew backwards. “It’s not a toy! It’s a bunny.”

“Is he dead?” Lindsay asked.

Just then, the bunny made a run for it.

“NO! IT’S VERY MUCH ALIVE!” Jack screamed.

A darling bunny, small enough to fit in the palm of my hand, was hiding from Mae, who had delivered it to Lindsay via her jaws.

The energy in the room could have lit the Empire State Building. By my reaction alone, you would have thought it was a New York City urban rat.

“Mom, calm down, it’s just a bunny,” Jack said.

“IT. IS. A. WILD. ANIMAL,” I reprimanded him.

The wild bunny wildly hopped around looking for a hiding place, while I hopped around trying to find a suitable rescue box.

Jack pulled furniture into the middle of the room.

Lindsay balked, “I spent all day cleaning my room.”

Box in hand, I asked, “Where did it go?”

“Over there,” Jack pointed. “Here, you hold the light and I’ll get it inside the box.”

With the finesse of a big game hunter, Jack captured the bunny and carefully handed it up to me. When I took hold, the bunny jumped. I panicked. Then, like an erupting volcano, I spewed the box up in the air, catapulting the bunny upward, causing it to ricochet off the bedpost on its way down.

“Now it’s a flying squirrel,” I joked.

We started pulling things out from under Lindsay’s bed, in search of the bunny.

“I’ll get another box,” I said, “one with less room for it to move around.”

By chance, a used box was by my feet. I yanked off the dangling pieces of shipping tape.

Rolling his eyes with exasperation, Jack grabbed the box and, with a piece of cardboard, gently coaxed the frightened bunny inside. “I got it. Out of my way.”

Suddenly, as Jack shot up, the bottom of the box opened, sending the bunny to the carpet like an elevator free fall.

Jack jumped so as not to step on the bunny, which upset Lucky the dog who started nipping at Jack, while Mae took this opportunity to try and recapture the bunny.

“Hey, hey,” Jack mamboed to avoid the mammals.

With beady eyes, the bunny looked at me as if to say, “Thanks, but I’ll take my chances with the cat.”  Jack got him in a third box and raced outside.

“Now where do we put it?”

I hesitated. “Over here, no over here, no.”

Jack dropped it across the street. With whatever life it had left, the bunny hopped away with reckless abandon.

Jack went back to bed, and Lindsay went back to cleaning her room – AGAIN – as she pointed out.

I settled back into a good night’s read.

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Kid Power

“Mom, what did you protest against when you were my age?” Lindsay asked me while she was lettering her Black Lives Matter sign.

At the same time, Jack was preparing to protest pandemic style, fully clad head to toe with gloves, mask, glasses and hat. He looked like The Invisible Man.

“Protest?” I was embarrassed. “At 16?”

There is a revolution happening right under our noses and it’s fueled by Gatorade and Cap’n Crunch cereal. Where did these kids get all this confidence? Maybe participation trophies really do matter.

Lindsay’s opinion of me was dropping steadily, “You did nothing at all?”

“Well, not nothing – I did get a petition signed for fresh oranges in the school cafeteria,” I feebly offered. “In my defense, we didn’t have social media. Organizing would be all word of mouth – like playing telephone, the results are never clear.”

“That makes no sense,” she said while rolling her eyes incredulously, “What did you do, just bang a drum, use the Pony Express or a carrier pigeon?”

“Very funny. As soon as you get your driver’s license you can take over the world.”

But their youth activism is infectious. Teenagers now feel empowered, not powerless, to change the world.

They’ve never worn a uniform short of one for the Boy or Girl Scouts, but they command more force than the military.

They recognize, “It’s a Small World After All…”

After the Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting, a large group of adults protesting against gun violence went before Congress. The changes have been slow in coming. But after the Parkland School shooting, kids protested in the streets across America and the next day Dicks Sporting Goods stores stopped selling semi-automatic weapons. Effective immediately.

We’ve known about global warming as a real problem since Al Gore’s book, “An Inconvenient Truth”, was published in 2006. I bought the book and frankly I only got through the first ten pages. Short of electric cars what else have we done?

If I had gone to my parents and said, “I’m going to organize people all over the world in protest to save the planet from climate change,” they would have giggled. My mother would have smiled, “That’s nice, is that for your science project this year?”

Greta Thunberg was named TIME Magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year after leading a worldwide movement with millions of people. She was 16.

Thousands of people gathered in Sacramento for a climate change protest led by Supriya Patel. Middle and high school students all over the country left school early to support her protest. She was 13.

Never have I seen such unification since the release of the Harry Potter books. Theirs is a call to action like no other.

I think it’s safe to say, “They’re mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore!”

They look at us with contempt saying, “Now look what you’ve done! It’s going to take us decades to clean up your mess.”

Once again, this generation is leading the march now against police brutality. Their positive view on race is very black and white – they don’t see color.

Have all the good causes already been taken? Maybe it’s not too late for me.

It would behoove us to lower the age of a president from 35 to 21.

I’ll start that movement: PRESIDENT AT 21

I want to live in a world where they are in control – not us.

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Tidy Shmidy

Cream Simple Coffee Instagram Post (1)

Back in 2014, when “the life-changing magic of tidying up” by Marie Kondo was first published, I was all in. She had me at “life changing.” The mere fact that the cover title was written in all lower-case letters made it seem so unintimidating.

I embraced this new way of living, all based around the concept of “sparking joy.” I decluttered, carefully rolling every remaining piece of clothing with military precision.

Fast forward to 2020 the Quarantine. My tightly rolled clothes have unraveled. Time again to Kondo-ize them using all this extra time.

Gazing inside my closet I gasped, “Hell no!” It was far too daunting to take everything out. I was going to have to Waffletude-ize it!

My rule was this: 3 things a day. Find 3 things I didn’t like or never wore and throw them into a bag. That wasn’t scary at all.

First day: I had 3 shirts in different colors and the same style, but they no longer sparked joy. Into the bag they went. I wanted to do more, but no, I held strong to my rule. Three-a-day, no more, no less.

I was obsessed with filling bags with clothes, shoes, purses and socks. Well, maybe the socks could go into the trash. Does this dress spark joy? How could it? It still has the tags from a store that is now out of business!

What else in my life needs to go? Old souvenir mugs that filled the kitchen cabinets from past vacations? Time to go.

Lindsay looked at me like Cindy Lou Who, “Mom you’re starting to scare me.”

“Don’t be silly,” I countered, “Next I’ll do your room.”

My attention was sharply drawn to the cat sharpening his claws on my couch!

“He is NOT sparking joy!”

“Mom! No! You’re bagging Skippy!”

With my closet cleared out and everything remaining rolled up tight as a cinna-bun, I was feeling joyful. But, I had to wait for the Goodwill to open up again. To my wellbeing, it was an essential store. Once opened, I loaded up the back of my car.

I was not alone. The line was socially distanced around the block.

“Someone will help you unload your donation bags in a minute. Go look around, we have a huge selection these days thanks to the Quarantine and Kondo,” said the masked man.

“Kondotine? Take your time,” I said, “I used to come here for costumes when my kids were little.”

Reminiscing, I walked up the coat aisle, then the pants and shirts. He was right, the racks were jammed. I had never seen it so full of fabulous clothes.

Oh! I had a jacket just like that. I slipped it on over my gloved hands. It fit perfectly. Purple velvet will come back in style. It was only $7 and the tags were still on it! Was this a famous designer? I don’t know why I never wore mine. Oh, and a matching shirt, cute skirt and…

With my arms so full I could barely see my way clear to check out, I asked the nice kid who was helping me unload my donation bags from my car to also help me reload my car with purchased bags.

“Don’t judge me,” I murmured timidly.

He giggled, “It’s been like this since we opened back up.”

Joyfully, now my closet is very full… with other people’s hand-me-down clothes.

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Zooming Thru the Pandemic

We know what Zoom meetings look like on our side of the screens – watching our colleagues bobbing in and out of their respective boxes, changing the volume and turning the mute button on, then off, indiscriminately.

I learned my Zoom lesson, “Are you kidding me? What is she doing? What is she wearing?”

“Mom, you’re not on mute.”

Do you think about what is happening on the other side of your screen?

I had a work Zoom meeting last week. It started at 9:00 AM eastern time, which sadly meant 6:00 AM my time. I am not a good morning person. The entire night before, I tossed and worried I wouldn’t wake up. 2:00, 3:00 and finally, when my 5:00 AM alarm sounded, I was already half awake. Begrudgingly, I got up.

It was pouring rain, sheets of rain, like Mother Nature had turned on the spigot from atop my roof. This doesn’t seem like much of a pronouncement, what with the current climate, but here in California it’s a big deal. As if the entire drought needed to be ended in one morning.

I ran downstairs only to find water quickly filling up my back patio, lapping up against my sliding glass door. To compound matters, the minor leak from the deck above had opened up, creating a waterfall cascading down into the kitchen. I grabbed whatever towels I could find; bath towels, kitchen towels, anything to build a dam.

“No, Bullet,” I looked at my dog, “I’m not building an ark just yet.” Flooding is my second biggest fear after early morning rising.

The garage was equally flooded with water pouring in rapidly through the garage door. The small drain just outside had already filled with debris: leaves, mud and muck. I bent down and did the best I could in the early morning darkness to clear it.

Now it was 5:45 AM. My restful start to this early morning had been destroyed – barely enough time to start the coffee maker. Bullet was following close to my side, hinting that even though it was early he still would like his breakfast. I looked at the clock, the time was whizzing by or I was moving slowly, either way it was now 5:53 AM.

“Fine.” I grabbed his bowl, dashed back into the garage, slogged my way through the water to the kibble container, flung the top open.

“AAAAGH!” Great! The trifecta of my biggest fears, my kryptonite… a rat was enjoying Bullet’s doggy kibble breakfast first. My reflexes kicked in and I slammed the lid shut, trapping him inside. Quivering, I grabbed the entire bucket. I could feel him bouncing around against my arms, trying to get out. I slogged back outside, threw the container on the ground and popped the lid off, “Hope you can swim, buddy.”

Totally rattled and soaked to the bone, I grabbed my cup of coffee and ran to my computer. It was 6:04 AM. I loaded Zoom, punched the button, “Yes, I want to join the meeting”, and seconds later the checkerboard of workmates popped before me. What also popped up was my 4th biggest fear, getting caught in my jammies at work. Whereas all my workmates were dressed in business attire, at least from the waist up, I was wearing a wet, pink, fuzzy bathrobe covered in dirt, leaves, dog kibble, and possibly rat poop.

“Are you kidding me?”

“What is she doing?”

“What is she wearing?”

I could hear them murmuring until my boss cut them off, “Guys, you’re not on mute.”

“Good morning,” I said, making sure I wasn’t on mute.

“MOM, THERE IS A DEAD BAT IN MY ROOM!” Lindsay screamed horrifically.

“A dead bat? As in the Corona virus bat?”

My workmates shuttered. I zoomed past third base and slid into home!

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My Corona

I never thought that when the Apocalypse came, I would be scrounging around for toilet paper.

Without a square to spare, am I going to put a sign on my powder room door that reads:

“For Residents Use ONLY!”

Will my parties have to be a BYOTP?

Are we going to have to start wearing Depends?

On the first morning of “Shelter in Place,” I woke up to screams.

“Mom! The dog ate all the granola bars.”

“What?” I said stumbling into a kitchen filled with wrappers and empty Costco-size boxes.

“We only had enough granola bars for ten days!”

“Mom! There is dog barf all over my room!” Lindsay hollowed.

“Clean it up,” I said.

“Where is some toilet paper?”

“NO! DON’T USE THE TOILET PAPER!”

“Where are the paper towels?”

“We’re all out! Crap! Just grab the newspaper.”

“It’s not working. It’s not soaking it up!

“Fine.” I grabbed a real towel, scooped it up and threw it all into the trash.”

“Mom, they just announced school is closed.”

In a Steven King novel, this is where I would be in the lineup to kill someone.

I grabbed the barfing dog and walked out into the cloudy afternoon. The streets were unusually full. I’ve never seen so many kids playing, and other people walking their dogs.

I have watched enough horror movies to know how this ends. I wondered what type of character I would be in this exact situation.

The doomsday type, hoarding toilet paper and canned goods to fill my bunker.

The “You’re overreacting!” type. This part is reserved for the arrogant old man, usually the first one to die.

The stupid jokester, “If I drink too much and get sick, is that the Corona Beer Virus?”

I think I would like to be Mrs. Davis when she asked George Baily if he could give her $17.50 to tide her over during the bank run in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

We walked, I thought…  We’ve survived bad things before: 9/11, earthquakes, Wall Street crashes, evacuations.  I fear, we may have really done it this time. Is Earth really mad at us?  Global warming, massive fires and now a deadly plague forcing people to stay in their homes.

Or is this what we’ve been asking for along? As a society we’ve been social distancing for years. Text or pick up the phone to chat, stop by a friend’s house for coffee? Do you know your mailman, grocer, neighbor?

Malls have been near extension for months, it’s all online now. Who goes to a store to shop or socialize? Our groceries are delivered anonymously. We date on computers, not in bars. Our closest relationships are reduced to one small device.

That’s when I stumbled upon it…a sign… from Earth, written on the sidewalk in chalk.Picture1

We can do this… not just survive this but change our ways.

When this is done, I will become a better advocate for Earth. Use my phone to just talk, share my experiences in person, hug more. Shop in stores with people.

By the time we walked back, the rain had washed the chalk sign away. But I got the message. Together we can do this!

Earth Day, on April 22nd,, seems like a good day to start.

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Flipping the Bird

As a kid Thanksgiving was the holiday squished in-between the Most Fun Holiday of the Year, Halloween, and the Best Day of the Year, Christmas. Its sole purpose was for me to spend time with my relatives and drop useful hints for the Christmas gifts they can buy me for the next time we meet in a few weeks.

As I got older, I would come home and be a celebrity of sorts, do nothing but watch football then sit down for the best meal of the year, thankful for my family, friends bla bla bla. My mother was a great cook and she made it look so easy.

One year I went to a boyfriend’s house for Thanksgiving, it was horrible. They served the meal in Tupperware for easy cleanup. Who does that? We broke up just before Christmas prior to any gift exchange because I could not see any of that in my future.

But now, it’s all different, I’m the grown-up. The meal I had once loved has become the source of unbridled stress. In other words, it’s all on me. And it must to be perfect. The day after the “most fun holiday” I was bombarded with emails how to make the Perfect Thanksgiving Meal.  You can’t stand in a line anywhere without glancing at a magazine cover, Perfect Dinner Your Family Will Treasure. All I could see is that Normal Rockwell illustration of the man showing off the picture-perfect turkey. What if I fail? Will my family be scarred for life? Not having the same ideal childhood memories that I have. Yes!

It’s all about the main attraction… the turkey.  I have only cooked 2 turkeys in my entire life. The first one could have flown off the platter if not for the tiny rope keeping its wings together. The second, based on past experience, was so over cooked it could have been used as building materials for any of the 3 Little Pigs houses. (Straw, Sticks and Bricks). It was Turkey Jerky and I was the Jerk for trying to make Jerk Turkey!

Everyone says it’s so easy, but it’s really not. Which side is the breast?

After hours of setting and resetting my overly decorated dining room table including autumn leaves from Vermont because California doesn’t have seasons anymore, just to make it so perfect Martha Stewart would gobble with glee at the sight of it. But it looked more like a National Lampoon Thanksgiving. I broke down in tears.

“What’s wrong, Mom?” Daisy asked.

“IT’S NOT PERFECT!” I spewed.

“Yes, it is. It’s our perfect.”

“What?”

“Mom were not the kind of people who have a designer house, super clean or perfect like that. We have the house all our friends call home.”

“Really?”

“Isn’t it you who always says if you get your guests drunk enough, they won’t even care?”

“Yes, that’s me.” I beamed with pride.

So, Happy mismatched table linens, random bar stools as dining chairs, paper napkins, dirty aprons, crumbs in the silverware drawer, oversized plates as platters, ladles as serving spoons, chipped wine glasses, pumpkins leftover from Halloween filled with family and friends… Perfect Thanksgiving.

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