Tritus of Workitus

I had to talk my dear friend off the ledge today. She suffers from a serious mental condition that lowers one’s desire to work, Tritus of Workitus. With her permission, I’m revealing her condition because I know many suffer in silence.

Years ago, once our children were in school all day, she and I were forced to go back to work. To our spouses it seemed like a perfect opportunity to fill the time previously spent on our children. Time now better spent bringing money into the household instead of the constant outpouring of funds for their entertainment. How inconsiderate. It didn’t take long, maybe only a few weeks before we suffered our first bouts of Tritus of Workitus.

Of course, everyone says, “Just pull yourself up by your bootstraps, you’ll be fine.” It doesn’t work like that. Suddenly, as working girls, we were being forced to comply with rules, boring jobs to do, answering to bosses and schedules to keep – none of which was of any interest to us. 

We muddled through it together, bemoaning our fate over wine glasses filled with clear liquids. We kept our condition in check, dreaming of the days when we could be bored again at our own leisurely pace.

I am currently in full remission from Tritus of Workitus due to Covid-19 and the lack of employment. Alas, my friend is not so lucky. After being quarantined for months, she had grown accustomed to a lifestyle that was enjoyable, comfortable not being part of the rat race.  

Then, out of the blue, she received the call requesting her to return to her job full time. Full time! She wasn’t even given the consideration of her mental condition to allow her to slide back into the work force slowly – part time at first. 

How do they expect her to start getting up at 7 AM when she’s been sleeping in until ten every morning? And be showered and dressed, well at least from the waist up. It just seemed like her employer was asking quite a lot.

Because of this job-related stress her Tritus of Workitus flared up. She tried reaching out to me for a support call. Sadly, I missed her call, because I was reading my current edition of People magazine out in the garden, while sipping a lovely gin and tonic for medicinal purposes.

At any given moment she may have to take a mental health day and go shopping, if only the malls were open, again. Although, it is possible that she’ll throw herself back into her job. She’ll enjoy what she does with only momentary lapses which occur usually on a warm afternoon.

I am sorry to say there is no cure to date. My advice is to stay the course. You can do this.  Work to get that last kid through college, pay off that overpriced SUV, or install those new hardwood floors you’ve been dreaming about. Then, in no time at all, with any luck, you will be asked to leave your job because of your poor work ethic.

Most importantly drink plenty of clear liquids.

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Kryptonite

It breaks my heart knowing so many animals were displaced in the recent Bobcat Fire. But, they are not welcome in my house!

I have a cat that is organic pest control.  This morning, when I went to fetch the dog’s kibble, I came upon a dead rat with its head cleanly removed. 

I congratulated my awaiting cat, “job well done, Mae.” 

I got the shovel – then, with my eyes barely opened, I felt the gray and red mass plunk into a bag. 

Rodents are my kryptonite. 

That evening, my daughter Lindsay’s sixteen-year-old voice was heard piercing from 

upstairs, “MOM! GET UP HERE NOW!”

“What?” I called out already knowing what.

“A RAT!” 

“Alright, I got this,” I said.

“IT’S ALIVE!” 

“Where’s the cat?” I hollered.

I ran upstairs to find Lindsay doing rain dance circles on top of my bed, with her legs uncontrollably flailing like she was barefoot on hot asphalt.

She pointed and shrieked, “It came in through the door from the deck.”

“Did you see where it went?” I asked, logically. 

“No! Why would I do that? I didn’t want to see it at all,” she said uncovering her eyes.

“Sam, get in here now!” I ordered her twin brother.

It could be anywhere – behind the drapes, among the tossed pillows or underneath the bed.

Sam arrived and gallantly proclaimed, “I’ll look under the bed.” Rats are not kryptonite to this superhero.

“NO!” My response shocked even me.

A year ago on my birthday, some of my friends gave me a gift box filled with devices of a sexual nature – some that needed batteries. They thought, because I am a prude, I would find it hilarious. I did not.

This is bear country, so I couldn’t just throw it in the trash. My trash gets scattered all over my front yard on a regular basis. Not knowing where else to dispose of this gift, I tossed it under my bed. Until this moment, I had forgotten all about its existence.

Dilemma – if Sam looked under my bed, that would expose my secret. If looked under my bed, I might see the rat running around squeaking. “You killed my brother!” 

Not unlike the Headless Horseman, this Sleepy Chamber was turning into the Sleepy Hollow.

Facing the better of two evils, I looked under the bed, praying that the rat hadn’t jumped inside that gift box causing it to vibrate. 

 “All clear here,” I declared.

“I’m sure it went back outside,” Lindsay said.

I returned to the den. One hour later I heard the call of the wild.

“IT’S BACK!” Lindsay shouted.

It was a huge disgusting rat, no Stuart Little, frozen in the middle of the room, tail flipping. 

With newly found courage, Lindsay had found a small white box.

“Not that!” I shouted,  “please don’t tell me you’re about to kill that rat with your dead grandfather’s ashes?”

It was too late. She hurled the box with her water polo throwing arm, missing it by a hair. The well-sealed box and the rat remained intact, but it was enough to scare him out the door, which I slammed shut.

“Tomorrow we’re getting an army of cats!” I announced, angrily.

Lindsay looked baffled, “Armenian cats?”

“I’m not sleeping alone tonight,” Sam said.

“Me neither,” I said.

Just like Charlie’s bedridden grandparents in Willy Wonka we crowded in the big bed, armed with what we needed for our survival: 

  • Sam had a fully loaded Airsoft gun.
  • Lindsay had her phone.
  • I had a large glass of wine.

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Evacuation

When the Bobcat Fire was burning out of control, we were put on Evacuation Alert. Everything hinged on the weather, if the Santa Ana winds blew in, we would have to blow out of here. I packed my car with my valuables and waited. 

Is this one more thing to tack onto that list of 2020 horrors? No, this was not my first rodeo.

In 2008, a different fire with a different name threatened this same mountain. On that night, it was my mother’s house that was in jeopardy.

I gathered up my kids as the fire trucks raced around. By the time we got to her street, the police had already blocked it off to non-residents.

I pleaded, “No officer, I don’t live here now, but I use to. I’ve come for my mother who does live here now.”

“Unless you live here now you can’t go up.”

My conversation with the officer was proving futile until my kids started crying, “Don’t let our Granny burn up.”

That was enough for this law enforcer to bend the rules.

“Mom, there is a FIRE!” I screamed, barging into her house, catching her and her caregiver off guard. “We’ve got to get you out of here.”

It quickly became obvious that it would not be an easy task to move this 85-year-old woman with dementia and her lovely caregiver, who at that exact moment reminded me of Aunt Pittypat from Gone with the Wind when Atlanta was burning.

I was walking a fine tightrope that stretched between conveying a calm sense of urgency and ensuing panic – one on which I was not balancing well.

“Can you get my mother ready?” I asked her caregiver. 

“Okay,” she jumped up and grabbed clothes from the closet.

At the same time, I found boxes to fill with personal items. I gave each of my children a container of some sort. “Start filling ‘em” I ordered.

“Everything?” Lindsay asked.

“No, just important stuff.”

Seeing boxes filled with candy, their artwork, a shake maker and a scented candle, I learned the vast difference between my definition of important and a child’s.

I grabbed her jewelry, photos, documents and my father’s urn. What else to take?

With the enthusiasm of a timed scavenger hunt, we all began running and grabbing – it was chaos. I was panting while my mother and her caregiver moved in “sloth motion.”

Soon, my mother appeared on the couch with her legs sticking straight out an unable to move her limbs. In preparation to evacuate, her caregiver had taken great care, and dressed her in what seemed like her entire wardrobe, including a final outer trench coat. My mother looked like a child getting ready to go out into the snow. She, too, was huffing from being over heated.

And then it came. BANG! BANG! BANG!

The officer stood in the doorway, “You must evacuate immediately!” he ordered.

Exhausted, I looked at him, “You gotta be kidding me? We’ll try, but look around. If this is our time to go to heaven, it’s our time.”

I’m happy to report that 2008 wasn’t our time. Nor was 2020. Thankfully, we didn’t have to evacuate. But until this fire was out, I kept my boxes packed with my photos, documents, my father and now my mother in their respective vessels, in my car.

Let’s review – a pandemic, unrest, uncertainty and now fires? What’s next on the list? Locusts? Frogs? These fears plagued me as I tried to sleep that night.

I shut my eyes, when the ground beneath me shook. Oh, right, I had forgotten one – earthquake. This earthquake kept building, always posing the question… is this the big one?

I sat up in bed, then decided, “Oh hell, everything is safe in the car.” I laid back down and enjoyed the ride.

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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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