Out of Sadness, a Precious Gift

May 31, 2020

Everything about Little Girl A is big. Her EYES are vibrant blue pools that literally sparkle in the sunlight. They are framed by lashes that, should she ever need glasses, may be problematic because they are so long. Her SMILE is a cliché in that it lights up a room. It is her constant companion and her most important accessory. She knows how to use it to her advantage too. She is the consummate charmer. But it’s genuine. She is happy almost ALL the time and loves everyone. I often wonder if her jaws ever hurt because of the perpetual position her face finds itself. Her PERSONALITY enters the room before she does. You know she is coming. She is not necessarily loud, but she’s definitely enthusiastic. She likes to be in the middle of the excitement because she most likely helped create it. She gives it her all. Her messy disaster of a bedroom is a testament to her going through life like a miniature tornado. She has things to do and no time to deal with unimportant nonsense like making her bed! Little Girl A is also a bit of a drama queen on the rare occasion when she’s not having a good day. Everything is a major production and the tears can flow on command when needed with this one. She’s a bit of a manipulator. Other endearing traits that make her who she is are her love of girly accoutrements like anything pink or purple, wearing a dress, just because, even if she’s bike riding with her buddies, ribbons in her hair, purses, jewelry and the like. She loves nail polish on her toes, but of course, it must be purple. She’s also been known to change her outfit several times a day and unceremoniously deposit the rejected item in the hamper even though it’s been worn for a nano-second. Her older siblings, especially her big brothers, adore her and are very protective of this little one. I am guessing between her daddy and their watchful eyes she and her older sister will never date.

This is the Cliff Notes version of my granddaughter, Little Girl A. (Parents, please explain Cliff Notes to those uninitiated youngsters) She, like all my grandchildren, is the love of my life. She is five years old. She has blonde hair, blue eyes, and a smile that goes on forever. But, the biggest thing about her is a HEART that holds abundant and limitless love. She is just kind, caring and empathetic. She has never met a stranger. She and her cousin of the same age are best friends. She gives the best hugs. She loves to cuddle, always has. She hears my car in the driveway and runs out yelling my name because she is so excited to see me. She will be in another room and suddenly decide she wants to find me to give me one of her famous hugs and proclaim, “I love you, Grandma.” She melts my heart. Every. Single. Time.

So, do I plan to devote a blog to each of my grandchildren? I try to never say “never,” but not likely. Let’s face it: all of us with grandchildren are similarly enamored by these wonderful reminders of why we raise our own children. They give us joy without the responsibilities and they allow us to not so secretly chuckle while watching them drive their parents crazy. I have a specific reason for writing this particular blog and its timing is no accident. You see, this sweet little girl is special on many levels, but one in particular and the focus of this blog. My granddaughter, Little Girl A, is adopted. And this will be the first and last time I write about it, because to me, the circumstances of her birth are not what make her special. What matters to me most is that this little girl is one of my grandchildren and I love her with every ounce of my being. A certain perspective and backstory will provide the needed history as to how she came to us. It also underscores a profound sadness coupled with an incredible feeling of joy at her arrival. It is a conundrum I struggle with frequently.

A little background. My daughter and son-in-law had often discussed adopting a child even after having one, two, even three of their own. They are compassionate, giving people and had felt the pull to provide a home to an unwanted baby. But life and frankly finances got in the way. Private adoptions are not cheap, given legal fees, medical bills, sometimes transportation costs, etc. And, like I said, they had no trouble “making babies.” I also believe, on some level, they knew there were so many couples who were not so fortunate and that they should not potentially take their place in the queue of prospective adoptive parents. And, happily, they realized that they would soon welcome sweet Baby J., their fourth child. Their lives were pretty happy and content and all the grandparents were ecstatic at the birth of their newest little one to spoil.  And then the unthinkable happened. https://widowspique.blog/2019/09/18/the-worst-day/ I have said this before: it does not get easier and I expect it never will. I will NEVER EVER understand WHY. But this blog is not about that day. If you haven’t read about that day, connect to the link above to better understand and gain a better perspective.

Several months after that most painful day, my daughter and son-in-law made the decision to revisit the idea of adoption. Those who didn’t know them as well as their close loved ones would possibly attribute this to their blinding grief and perhaps a misguided attempt to soften their sadness by “replacing” their son. Not so. They discussed their plans and feelings at length and truly felt that their family was not complete and they, kids included, had so much love to share and wanted to honor their son in heaven by bringing a new brother or sister into the family.

The process began. Lawyers, home inspections, social workers, writing a family statement, providing financial information, taking photos of the family, the dog, the home, answering personal questions on religion, their view of the world, what type of homelife they have, etc., were all part of a long and arduous process. And there were no guarantees. Because this was through a private agency, essentially all prospective parents are placed in a data base to which birth parents are given access. It is from here that the birth parents ultimately choose their soon-to-be-born children’s adoptive parents.

There were missteps and frustration along the way. Months, almost a year had passed since Baby J’s death. Finally, my daughter and son-in-law were matched with a birth mom who had chosen them. They were ecstatic that she was set to give birth in a few short months. They planned to be there (a city in the mid-west) for the birth and after a required several days stay, bring home their new son or daughter. Sadly, it was not meant to be. In hindsight, there were many red flags – missed doctor appointments, lack of communication, calls not returned, unsafe behavior, and other troubling circumstances and poor choices that ultimately led to the adoption not occurring. I know I think of that child often and hope that he/she is living a good life with loving parents. This was a setback that left my daughter and son-in-law very discouraged. Their attorney, however, wisely, and I think, prophetically, comforted them by telling them that these things happen often and that their child had not yet been born.

From my vantage point, I felt extremely helpless. My husband was beginning his downward spiral of what would ultimately be the final year of his life. I offered up prayers and encouragement from afar, but my primary attention and all my energies would need to be devoted to my spouse. We hadn’t seen our grandchildren since the early fall, when we joyfully drove to NC to welcome our younger daughter’s first child, and here it was February 2015. One evening, I was with my husband in a rehabilitation facility where he was recovering from his stroke. When I answered my cell phone, it was my daughter saying “Mom, when it rains, it pours.” I guessed right away that there was a baby. And this baby was due in less than two weeks! Everything fell into place. She was born in North Carolina, a few hours from where my daughter lives and because she was born in-state, she was able to go home with Mommy and Daddy the next day. My granddaughter had arrived! Little Girl A was here! She was perfect and the love we all felt for her was instantaneous.

I was chomping at the bit to get my hands on our sweet little girl but had to wait until she was about six weeks old when the whole family drove to Delaware over Easter break. By then, Grandpa was home from the hospital. I will be forever grateful for that visit. We cannot get that time back. It was precious time that possibly foreshadowed his passing in September 2015.

So that is the story of Little Girl A. Make no mistake, she is a much-loved child, as are all my grandchildren, but sometimes when I look at her, as happy as she makes me, I sometimes experience a tinge of sadness. Perhaps what I struggle with the most is that I cannot, under any scenario, imagine my life without her. I love her so much it hurts. I love all my munchkins so much it hurts. What is most painful for me is knowing that Baby J died. I would give anything to have him back in our lives. I will never get over it. But the stark realization is that if Baby J were still with us today, a happy, active, seven-year-old boy, we would never have our sweet little five-year-old girl who has my heart. It is a cruel dilemma that I face every day of my life. As the seventh anniversary of Baby J entering into God’s arms approaches on June 10, the one thing I do hang onto is a feeling of immense gratitude mixed with profound sadness. I will miss Baby J forever, but I am so very grateful to the young woman, who chose to give us the sweetest little girl with blonde hair, big blue eyes, a smile as welcoming as can be, an open heart, who likes to dress up and wear purple nail polish, and who runs into my arms and says “I love you, Grandma.” I can’t thank her enough.

Behind the Mask

April 19, 2020

I don’t know who I am anymore. I’m in a Coronaviral Spiral. I’m a Covid-19 eating machine. I have little or no human contact except for my Zooms and calls from people checking on me (thank you to my daughters and those friends who are aware that I just might run outside naked just to shake things up a bit – including my lily-white thunder thighs.) Just kidding. My mental state is fine, all things considered.  While I prefer the company of people, living alone for the last almost five years has given me some preparation and perspective for this government-imposed period of isolation, in the name of “flattening the curve.” I wish I could say the same for my curves which are doing anything but flattening. If I keep up my current love affair with the refrigerator, my ass is going to need its own zip code.

These last 38 or 549 days, but who’s counting, have given me pause on a lot of things. They have also given me the opportunity for self-examination, self-reflection, a renewed sense of wonder about things I never have thought about or knew anything about and have presented me with lots of questions about some really weird or stupid shit I never in a million years thought I’d be blogging about. But, did I see a pandemic in my future even eight weeks ago? Did the words “social distancing” have any significance in daily conversation? Nope. So here we are. The only places we can go are the so-called “essential” businesses, grocery stores, big box stores, banks, auto repair shops, and liquor stores. Liquor stores should be at the top of the list, even if they don’t sell toilet paper. Apparently in some states, the powers that be decided it was a good idea to declare liquor stores as non-essential and therefore, ordered them closed during this crisis. Apparently, they didn’t consult with the parents of toddlers, the parents of school-aged children, the parents of teenagers, people who don’t have children but have neighbors who do, people who hate children, people who behave like children, and people who just think liquor stores should be open and at their disposal at all times. I, for one, am grateful to live in a state that acknowledges the wisdom of open liquor stores and where one can purchase wine and beer in the grocery store. What a great way to multi-task.

Speaking of the grocery store, maybe it’s because I try to avoid going until I absolutely need to go (and on the off chance that I might be lucky enough to snag that elusive pack of toilet paper), but are you like me and find yourself uncharacteristically putting things into your cart that you never would have considered buying before? Is it that trendy FOMO? (Fear OF Missing Out) Who among us has always yearned for, but erred on the side of fiscal responsibility, giddily picked up a bag of organic seaweed snacks or the equally tantalizing crunchy seasoned peas? Now is the time! When will we ever have another pandemic in our lifetime to excuse such irresponsible behavior? I did hesitate at the soup section when I saw the attractive box emblazoned with the name “Miso Easy.” I had flashbacks from high school and needed to take a deep breath and step away. And to add one final touch of weird irony on my recent shopping trip during this time of world crisis and uncertainty, I spied the following in the frozen food section: the brand was Sweet Earth, such a lovely idea; the product was Borderless Enchiladas. Hmmmm, I think my 10th grade literature teacher would smack me in the face if I couldn’t pick out the irony there. Rest in peace, Sister D.

Home life during this period of uncertainty has taken on its own personality and from what I have ascertained, a lot of it revolves around food, either because we are all eating because we’re bored or we are turning to cooking – because we are bored. I am guilty of both. On Easter Sunday, I decided to cook a good meal – for me, myself, and I (three of my closest friends) and of course, Bruno would also be rewarded for sharing his home with me by benefitting from errant food placement. Note to self: Bruno and baked ham are not a good combination. Enough said. Suffice it to say, me, myself, and I appreciated the effort made on Easter Sunday as well as on other evenings when a genuine attempt to make a decent dinner to show me, myself, and I that I matter (so do me and myself), and that presentation is everything.  This is not to say that on other evenings, I don’t really care how me and myself are feeling and have a rice cake with peanut butter for dinner. And I am not above tearing open a package of Ramen noodles – ah, college memories! Or I will throw together some admittedly weird culinary combinations simply because they are nearing expiration and I hate wasting food. Don’t scoff until you’ve tried scrambled eggs with beets on the side; radishes, sliced cheese, and toast; Multi-grain Cheerios as your entrée and Peeps for dessert; the list goes on.

With nowhere to go, there are lots of options for entertainment from games, puzzles, reading, network television, movies, Netflix, etc. When I first moved to North Carolina last year, I discovered Law & Order: SVU. It’s been around for over 20 years and going strong. Now that I am an Olivia Benson freak, I can catch up pretty much any day of the week.  I am also here to bare my soul, throw myself at your mercy and beg you for your understanding. I started watching the Hallmark Channel. I know. I know. I scoffed and ridiculed the very same people who got sucked in. I promise you. I did not get sucked in, but I did become fascinated by these poorly acted, for the most part, poorly written, thinly plotted but I am guessing lucrative ventures for the network. So, please give me some slack. I attribute my viewership to research. I have learned the following: many of the actors are Canadian. They have a small cadre of actors, being recycled in and out of the annoyingly similar plot lines. You come to prefer certain actors. The themes are formulaic and cover just a few premises: ambitious girl returns to her hometown to save the family business, travels to a small town to shut down a revered family company, is hired to perform a service, write a book, etc. She meets a handsome protagonist. They initially clash. There may or may not be a third party, old boyfriend or girlfriend to create conflict. There is a lie or misunderstanding that creates confusion. About 15 minutes before the movie ends, the couple either has a fight, or fate inexplicably intervenes and it appears that the love is doomed and both crestfallen lovers part ways seemingly to be doomed to a life of cheap vodka, bad decisions, and tragically, without true love. Magically, with three minutes before the closing credits, they are reunited, all is well, and they share a chaste kiss, because in the Hallmark world, these two have never seen each other naked. Have I covered it? Hallmark is a very strange world is all I can tell you.

Many folks have used this down time to get organized, cleaning out closets, assembling photos into digital formats and purging their garages of unwanted items. Charitable organizations will be flush with stuff and hard-pressed to accommodate all the donations coming their way once the virus goes on its way. I, for one, an admitted clothes horse, have thinned the wardrobe considerably filling several bags for donation. Speaking of clothing, I have learned over the last oh so many weeks, that I have very few apparel choices each day – not by necessity, but by choice. Quite simply, do I wear the black sweats or the grey sweats? Do I wear full length or capri length? Do I wear a long sleeve or short sleeve t-shirt? And depending on the temperature, there is only one choice – my ratty, pilled, grey cable misshapen, I don’t care what it looks like, sweater. I have lost all sense of style and purpose. And honestly, I don’t care. It will come back. It’s like riding a bike.

There are days I don’t even look in the mirror. And to be truthful, there are days I don’t shower. My nail technician is going to need hazard pay. My nails look like talons and things are getting lost under them. I have tried to cut them, but I fear only a hacksaw will do the job. Writing this blog has been an exercise in the old hunt and peck method. I have a new respect for women of certain “professions” who wear their nails longer than most for certain aesthetic appeal. My hat is off to you. Speaking of a hat, I haven’t resorted to wearing one yet, but that day is coming soon. The hair is getting longer, difficult to manage, and of course, the tell-tale evidence that I might have a color indicating my status as a senior citizen, is quickly rearing its ugly head – see what I did there? So clever. I recently fired my new hair stylist and had found one who really listened to me, so I can’t wait to renew our new girlmance. This grey hair bullshit is bad for my mojo.  But to show I am not a total philistine, I did put on lipstick this morning before I went to the grocery store, but sadly I had forgotten that I wear a mask, so what’s the point? It’s a shame really. My friendly smile at strangers is now lost as well, because, it’s behind the mask. Behind the mask: I think I just named my blog.

Gratitude and Platitudes

March 16, 2020

The Widow’s Pique has been missing from the blogdom world for several weeks and I was convinced no one would notice. Who cares? It’s nothing more than an insignificant collection of ramblings from a semi-competent woman who can string together words on a variety of topics that hopefully resonate. Apparently, a few of you do care, and while I am appreciative of your texts asking if I am OK and where is the next blog, I must wonder if don’t you have better things to occupy your time?

I just haven’t been feeling it, to exercise a much over-used phrase. Some health issues need my attention, tax papers needed to be gathered, I went on a cruise, I prepared for out of town visitors, and various other things that needed my attention. Simply put, my heart was not in it. I was feeling blue. I have struggled with depression and to a lesser degree, anxiety, for many years, and I usually can manage it, but sometimes it smacks me in the face. Medication helps. Before I moved south almost a year ago, I was seeing a therapist and I recommend it. Having a sense of humor is also something I have honed over the years, in fact, when people learn that I sometimes deal with depression they are surprised, because I am “funny.” The reality is I think I use the humor and my “snarkiness” to help me get through, but also to make people laugh, because it does make me happy. I genuinely like people and I enjoy being with people. But there are also times when I am masking fear, pain and hurt. I am really letting down my guard here. Cue the emotional guitar riff or whatever music of choice here.

But before I descend into a maudlin, “woe is me” jumble of melodrama, I want to raise the level of discourse, because this is not about me. One reason I hesitated to introduce a new blog is the current reality in which we find ourselves. Coronavirus is a word that every human being on the planet has become familiar with and to some degree, has found his or her life affected by, in ways unthinkable just a few short weeks ago. It has given us pause and produced fear, anxiety, turmoil and ugly behavior in many cases. It has shortened our calendars. It has given new meaning to the perceived value of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Washing our hands is at the forefront of polite conversation, though it begs the question, shouldn’t this be second nature? Moms everywhere have been drilling that into their children’s heads since the dawn of time.

Everyone is worried. We don’t know what to expect. And we hope and pray for a quick resolution. One thing I personally hope for is that we, as a nation and as a world, can come together to help each other where it is needed, lend a hand to those unable to take care of themselves, and for God’s sake, can we please just be kind to one another? This is one of the reasons my policy on social media is to restrict discussion to puppies, babies, jokes, and funny videos. To me, trashing a politician or an individual’s stance on an issue serves no purpose, will not change anyone’s mind, and only serves to further exacerbate the vitriol. This might be the perfect opportunity to set aside differences and embrace our “sameness.” I remember two things my parents said (among many) to my siblings and me. My mom, in her sweet way, always found the good in others. One of her catch phrases, “We are all God’s children” was a stark reminder that we are truly more alike than different. My dad, was the realistic one and would give us his “slap in the face” dose of the real world with his “None of us are going to get out of this world alive.” He was right, of course. So, put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Seriously, as we all navigate this weird new reality, I hope we can find some joy and make use of our extended free time, look for ways to help and just be grateful. I will list a few of the things for which I am personally grateful, not just now, but always. I am eternally grateful for my two daughters. They make me proud every day. Not only are they accomplished young women; they are more importantly GOOD people who care about others, and of course they gave me my beautiful grandchildren. And what gives me great joy is that they love each other unconditionally, not only as sisters but as best friends. I am grateful to be living in my new home. Leaving the northeast for the southeast after sixty plus years was TOUGH. I put on my big girl pants and forced myself to step outside my comfort zone and the experience has taught me a lot about myself. I have made some good friends and I love my new Rotary club. Good people are everywhere. I am grateful for my dog, Bruno. His soulful brown eyes and neurotic neediness give me a boost when I need it. He is my love. I dread the day when I will have to say goodbye to him. I am grateful for wine, vodka, books, Howard Stern, and my birdfeeders. I will leave it at that for now. Gratitude is a soothing antidote to the negativity that sometimes overtakes me and all of us. I plan to visit it more often.

I know some of my friends are reading this and thinking, what the ever-loving F has happened to her? Where IS she? She’s gone all soft!!! Bring back the snarky bitch where she belongs. Calm down. I’m still in here. I am just taking a little breather and “social distancing” from my typical irreverent and jaded self in deference to the folks who are truly suffering from this terrible virus and out of respect to all the healthcare workers and those in positions of knowledge and leadership who are giving their all to end this scourge. I promise you, when this crisis passes and we return to some semblance of normal, I shall revert to my obnoxious, self-deprecating poor excuse for a human being, who will hopefully provide some enjoyment for you – when I’m feeling it. In the meantime, for the love of God, wash your damn hands!

It’s Not My Job, Man!

January 14, 2020

If you watched the short-lived, but charming sit-com, “Chico and the Man” in the Seventies, you met a young actor/comedian named Freddie Prinze, whose character, Chico, had a catch phrase, “It’s not my job, man” which he would comically wisecrack to his boss whenever asked to do a task he found unpleasant. It was all in fun, but it also became part of the social lexicon and seems to be even today. People simply didn’t want to do more than just what is expected, even if it will help everyone reaching for the same goal. As a sad aside, Freddie Prinze, like his sit-com, was short-lived. He died tragically, in his early twenties.

That said, this blog is a little late in coming, because number one, I was sick with a horrendous “bug” which I am pretty sure my adorable, but lethal grandchild gifted to me. Secondly, I had some other obligations I needed (read felt obligated) to tend to. See, that’s my problem, always has been. I have this innate sense of responsibility to others, that they need me. But sometimes it just gets out of hand. Because, you see, unlike Chico, I always feel like everything is my job. Make no mistake, I have always been a nurturer, someone who enjoys helping. As the oldest in a large – ridiculously large – family of ten children, I learned early on that I needed to help, simply to survive, and keep things on an even keel. I always had this sense of empathy, duty, and responsibility particularly for my mother. So, I think it came naturally to lend a hand where needed. So, throughout my life, I was the go-to person, the dependable one, who could always be counted on to get things done, to not disappoint, to rise to the occasion. That’s a big burden to shoulder and I never let on that I sometimes felt the burden wearing me down. I mastered the pretense of always having it together. In school, both high school and college, I was a great team mate on group projects. I would take my portion of the project and run with it. And, truthfully, I would likely absorb some of the work of some less than stellar participants. I served on committees, volunteered in the community and assisted the sick and elderly. It felt good and I was happy to do it. When my children were growing up, I was an active parent, possibly overcompensating, particularly when I went back to work full-time. Despite the many nights I would be exhausted, I gladly drove to their high school to work on the minutiae that defines the after-prom party bullshit. If I never see pastel tissue paper, pipe cleaners or Dupont Tyvek again, it will be too soon. And yet, I soldiered on, because I was afraid to say “no.” I am in a well-known international community service organization, which I absolutely love, but like most volunteer entities, usually about 15% of the people do about 80% of the work. But I want the group to be successful, so I continue to step up.

As time went on, I found that I was able to extend the range of my largesse to my humor and people skills, providing said proficiencies for fun banter and learned discussions to any social situation in which I found myself – whether I felt like it or not. Somehow, it became my duty. Call it guilt, obligation, sympathy, whatever. It was up to me to never let there be a lull in the conversation. I felt the success or failure of a gathering was my responsibility, which, when I am thinking clearly, is clearly ridiculous. And narcissistic. And almost twisted. Well, maybe not that bad. It’s not like I’m a mental case or anything. At least I don’t think so. Hmmmm.

I have some close friends whom I would do anything for and they the same for me. We have known each other for years and as the saying goes, we know each other’s secrets. The planning for this blog was already in the works when two of my close friends came to me with some troubling news meant for my ears only. That has become a pattern with me. A few friends use me as their sounding board and I keep it to myself, which a good friend does. I then offer my sympathies, advice or just an ear. I am happy to do it, but truthfully, it can sometimes be an emotional burden and in some cases will require my added assistance in other areas. Again, I am happy to do it, because I know they would do it for me and in some cases they have. After I talked to each of them this week, I alerted them to the upcoming blog and told them that its subject matter was mere coincidence and not written with anyone in particular in mind and to not get their panties in a wad….they both understood…and laughed. No panty wadding experienced. And neither has ever been a burden to me…except maybe that one time….

This brings me to self-care. My whole life has been one of noblesse oblige. I really can’t help myself. It’s my nature. It’s my nurture – thanks to my upbringing and education and my life’s experiences. I do it because I truly want to, but truthfully, I also do it because I feel compelled out of guilt and fear that it won’t get done. So, as the New Year begins – and the year that I turn 70, I am going to make a concerted effort to put ME first – not always, but sometimes. Have I mentioned that I have cancelled doctors’ appointments and other plans in order to take care of someone else? I am not revealing this to look for accolades, but rather to help you understand where I am coming from and this mindset I have. I have reached the point in my life where I am finally and painfully aware that my time in this universe is short. I want – I NEED – more time for doing things that I don’t have to explain to anyone. I have a finite number of minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years left to pursue what makes me happy and I intend to check at least a few off the list. This doesn’t mean that I am not going to be there for people. I can’t turn off who I am. What it does mean is that I am going to pay closer attention to how I am feeling and not ignore myself. I have learned that it’s not selfish to put myself first sometimes. In fact, it will make me a better friend, sibling, mother, grandmother, or simply stranger on the street. I saw a self-care quote that really spoke to me. It says: “You owe yourself the love that you so freely give others.” I do. I intend to start today. If I start feeling guilty, someone, please smack me.  

This Annoys Me

December 16, 2019

Do seemingly innocuous things just annoy the crap out of you for no apparent reason? Yeah, me too. There is a comedian named Sebastian Maniscalco, whom I saw in Vegas about two years ago. He was just becoming known on the national stage and I paid about $75 for my ticket. I laughed so hard that I had to ask the woman sitting next to me for an Advil because my jaws hurt from laughing so much. Well, now Sebastian has come into his own, as more and more people hear about him and watch his Netflix specials and go to his live shows. Case in point: my sister and I will be seeing him in March—suffice it to say our tickets are significantly higher than what I paid in Vegas. He is hilarious. Sebastian is young, mid forties, but with the sensibilities of someone much older. He has an old soul and appreciates the traditional behaviors of a time gone by and he gets IRRITATED at certain things and becomes quite vocal in his act. He’s an observational comedian who comments on the absurdities of daily living and makes it funny. As a matter of fact, his current tour is called “You Bother Me.” Aptly named. He doesn’t stand on convention, nor does he take any prisoners. He calls it like he sees it. I urge you to see him in person or check him out on YouTube. I think he is my spirit animal.

So, before Christmas arrives (and the reason I am a wee bit late with my latest installment of Widow’s Pique), I plan on dedicating this blog to Sebastian Maniscalco by providing you with a collection of my annoyances. And before some of you get your panties in a wad, your sensitivities in a dither, your feelings hurt, your stances on the state of the world in an uproar, or your sense of decency destroyed, PLEASE just stop and take a chill pill. This is a blog and as you all know, I have a large sarcasm gene and this is all in fun. My opinion means nothing except to me. So, calm the hell down and relax. Eat a Christmas cookie and read the blog unless you are so destroyed and insulted that you can’t handle it and must seek refuge in a gluten-free egg nog. I shall begin.

I am going to attempt to be as organized as possible because generally my annoyances tend to categorize themselves. Please bear with me.


  • Pickup truck owners who drive like a bat out of hell (I learned this phrase from my Dad) or conversely drive, often in the left lane ten miles below the speed limit.
  • Still on the pickup truck thread, those with lots of bumper stickers which often don’t speak well of the occupants in terms of their gray matter. A cartoon character who is urinating on an opposing football team or whatever their enemy of the moment is–not funny–just juvenile.
  • Any of the following activities performed while driving: texting – just stop! Your life is not that important, you jerk, that you endanger all of us by texting your girlfriend that tonight’s the night—just stop! Putting on makeup: get up earlier and do it at home you idiot. In fairness, this is usually done while at a red light, but I have seen it in a moving vehicle. I hate stupid people.
  • Parking in handicapped spaces. WHAT gives you the right? WHAT is your excuse? WHY do you think it’s OK? And one final thing: you are a colossal jerk.
  • Parking in front of the store instead of in a parking spot. WHAT gives you the right? WHAT is your excuse? WHY do you think it’s OK? And one final thing: you are a colossal jerk. Unless you are dropping off your physically challenged 85-year-old mother, you are a pitiful excuse for a human being, and, oh yeah, a colossal jerk.
  • Tailgating and flashing your lights at me because apparently you are more important than I. So, listen up nimrod: speed limit=70; my speed=75. You’re not satisfied with that? Tough dingleberries, Jack! Go around. I am not moving. I hate people.
  • Luxury cars as a statement for your other obvious shortcomings. If you can afford a Maserati, have at it. I just don’t get it. I just want a car with decent mileage, no rust and no payment. Works for me. If you do indeed drive a status symbol please avoid the following: speeding past me with your “look at me” attitude AND the greatest sin of all, parking it in two spaces. That is a major asshole move and makes me REALLY annoyed.
  • Conversely, do not put a huge spoiler on a Ford Escort. It won’t improve your chances with the ladies or the cool crowd, I promise you. And it just makes you look extra douchey.
  • Fix your muffler, asshole.
  • People who blare music at traffic stops with their hyper extended bass that makes your hair stand on end and your ears bleed is BEYOND annoying. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE people, unless it’s oldies or ABBA; case closed.
  • And finally, is that extra twenty seconds worth it? Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT block the intersection. When in doubt, stay back. Nothing makes my blood get churning more in a traffic situation than when I see these idiots deliberately speed through the changing light just to avoid the red, only to cause a shit show for the people in the cross traffic. This is a totally obnoxious move and karma is sure to strike you somewhere down the line. Don’t do it. Use that extra time to check your make-up.

Television (a glimpse into the sad state of our society) and the Entertainment Industry

  • Kanye West: Every time he opens his mouth, I want to shut it for him. And yet, he’s a multi-millionaire, and I am not. Please be quiet, Kanye. You’re so annoying. And despite your protestations, you are not that supreme talent you think you are – except when it comes to being annoying.
  • All Things Kardashian – from the mother on down. Please be quiet. They all whine. They all speak in that supremely annoying “upspeak” and they all live in front of cameras. That’s got to be healthy for their kids. Yeah. And yet, they are all multi-millionaires, one is a billionaire, and I am not. And surprise, surprise, one of them is married to Kanye. Let’s keep spreading those annoying genes to the next generation, shall we? Be sure to teach those kids that conspicuous consumption is an admirable lifestyle.
  • Lori Loughlin: she really is clueless, isn’t she? And entitled. As someone who had to work my ass  off to get through school, I’m more than annoyed at her crap. And to plead not guilty? I hope they throw the book at Aunt Becky.
  • Another one who is completely clueless and whenever I see her, even on the newsstand (didn’t she jump the shark about 12 years ago; in fact, didn’t the expression “jump the shark” jump the shark a while ago too?) is the beyond narcissistic, controlling and obnoxious Kate Gosselin, who has somehow bankrolled having a multiple birth into a so-called career, irrevocably damaging her children in the process. This woman should be permanently banned from the airwaves, yet somehow there seems to always be a producer who comes up with a strange premise (Kate learns to basket weave; Kate has a colonoscopy) to add to her bank account. Annoying as hell.
  • Madonna and Johnny Depp. Annoying. Annoying. Annoying squared. From Madonna’s bad plastic surgery to Johnny’s affectations and destructive relationships, I am sick of them both. It’s time for them to retire from public life and poor decisions. But the thing that REALLY aggravates me about these two overrated celebrities? Their phony and contrived accents. Madonna wants you to believe that she is the lady of the manor with her undefined, yet grandiose delivery of the English word. She’s from Detroit! Give me a break! And don’t get me started on Johnny “I’m a Pirate” Depp. Have you seen his Sauvage by Dior commercial? Or as he pronounces it SOW-VODGE pause DEE-OHR like he’s an Earl from Devonshire in all his gilded glory. He’s a good ole boy from Kentucky. Don’t hide your roots, Johnny Boy. Let’s get real! You are both so irritating to me. Phoniness personified. Ugh.
  • Kraft Cheddar Cheese Commercials. The parents are intimidated by their children’s disdain for what’s for dinner (a lovely piece of salmon) by feigning nausea or the little brats’ refusal to finish their broccoli by saying “fine, we’ll sit here all night.” Instead of, in the first scenario, the parents telling the ungrateful little jerk who is writhing around on the floor to take it or leave it, or, in the second, telling the little snots, “fine, sit here all night,” the parents give in to the whims of the small people. WHO is in charge here? I guess I am old school, but commercials like this not only annoy the shit out of me, I think they do serious damage to the sanctity of parenthood. Children need to learn about boundaries and parents need to grow a pair.
  • Rap: pretty much enough said. There are some excellent rap artists, but anything that degrades women, uses gross profanity to the point that it doesn’t add to the “artistry,” really does absolutely nothing for me nor does it contribute anything worthy to the conversation. Annoying.

Trendy turns of phrase, clichés, and platitudes

I am becoming increasingly tired of people’s overuse of certain expressions and phrases that have become such a part of today’s vernacular that they almost sound normal when in fact they are a phenomenon created in just the last few years. Annoying as hell.

  • Journey, as in “I am so happy to be on this journey with my best friend.” May I release my nausea here? These words, often spoken at weddings are so saccharine that I want to hurl. Puh-leeze. Why not just say, “I am happy to be marrying this guy? He’s a wonderful human being.” The end.
  • It is what it is. Yes, it is. And so, it shall be. Until it was what it was. And hopefully will never be again.
  • Take it to the next level. This is so overused. It is used at work. It is used in a parked car between horny teenagers; you name it. All I know is, it’s annoying and vague. Just say what you mean dipshit.
  • At the end of the day. Oh, my God! (NOT OMG!!!) Please stop saying that! It makes me want to slap you! And I shouldn’t have to explain why. So, I won’t. Just think about why that expression is so irritating. Morning, Noon, or night, it’s so damn annoying.
  • Think outside the box. Another pretentious expression that deserves to be put back INSIDE the box and buried in the back yard never to be heard from again. Next.
  • In my safe place. If we all had a safe place it would be nirvana. But we don’t, so stop saying it. You are creating an unrealistic view of the world. Grow the hell up and accept reality. That is all. You are so annoying to me.
  • Everything happens for a reason. As someone who has lost several loved ones over the last ten years, I can assure you, no one wants to hear this. Ever. Stop saying it.
  • YOLO. Yes, you do. If you want that “once” to be shorter, use that expression around me. I will shorten your life considerably, because YOLO makes me livid. And annoyed.
  • I know, right? What the hell does this mean? When did this become acceptable repartee? Please make it stop – now, because I find you extremely annoying, and a bit of an a-hole.

Passive Aggressive and I am Superior to You on all Levels Behavior

These people REALLY twist my panties. And annoy me easily just by their mere existence. See if any sound familiar to you.

  • The svelte-bodied individual in the presence of the person who has struggled with his or her weight seemingly forever: “Oh I really shouldn’t eat anymore. I’m getting to be as big as a house.” Sweetie, you weigh 120 pounds. How dare you. Are you really that clueless or do you take pleasure in making those who aren’t slender like you feel even worse about themselves? You must feel so proud. Go take a selfie.
  • The fresh vs. artificial Christmas tree battle. Who really cares? I don’t think the artificial tree people really care. They just don’t have the dedication or desire to be out in the cold picking the perfect specimen, dragging it back to their car, getting covered in sap and needles, yada, yada, yada. To each his own I say. But some of the fresh aficionados take great umbrage at those who go artificial, passing judgment that somehow the true meaning of the holiday has been destroyed by these usurpers of tradition. Yeah, whatever. You’re so much better than me. And so annoying. This year my tree is an eight-inch Lenox statue. I’m going to hell, obviously.
  • Vegans and Vegetarians. I could easily be a Vegetarian. If I had to give up meat I could. I would miss my occasional steak, but I would survive, but there is no way in hell I could give up cheese. Life would not be worth living. But I digress. I am here to discuss those dietary elitists (in the minority I am sure) who look with polite disdain at the rest of us who eat animals. You know the type. You’re at a gathering and you pick up a plate and he or she will look at you and say “Oh, we are vegetarian/vegan. We brought some lentil stew and beet salad, which is delightful. We just feel so much better since we went completely meatless.” What they are really saying is “HOW can you even consider consuming something that used to have a face, a mother, and tried to get away. YOU, sir, are a MONSTER!” My answer would be, “Cool, more for me!”
  • People who make everything about them. These are the people who don’t really listen to you. They never listen. They nod their heads, but they are just waiting for a chance to jump in with their words of wisdom. Their lives and experiences are SO much more important. They are annoying narcissistic tools. They are also the ones who send out those obnoxious holiday newsletters all about how little five-year-old Johnny is starting college next year. We all know little Johnny will be stealing cars when he’s 15. Annoying.

Everyday Stuff

This will be a mishmash of things I witness and experience but cannot fit into their own unique categories, but because they often irritate the niceness out of me, I feel they deserve a mention in today’s blog. Bear with me please.

  • Hot dogs in 10 packs and hot dog buns in 8 packs (or is it vice-versa?) If we possess the smarts to put a human on the moon, why don’t we possess at least the logic to match up our dogs and our buns? It’s infuriating.
  • Verizon Customer Service. Enough said.
  • People and their carts stopping in the middle of the aisle at the grocery store. Honey, I realize that you are the center of the universe, but last I looked, it was your own little universe, not the one the rest of us reside in. Move over. Thank you, and while you’re at it, stop talking so loudly on your cell phone. I really don’t care what your husband wants for dinner.
  • Speaking of the supermarket – there are still people who write checks instead of using debit cards AND they wait until they are at the checkout AND all their merchandise has been checked when they decide to rummage through their handbag to look for their checkbook. My suggestion: if you insist on writing a check, please have it pre-written before you get to checkout. The only folks I give a pass to here are the elderly. They deserve it.
  • Not using your “ings” Please use your “ing.” It’s looking, not lookin’, eating, not eatin’, loving, not lovin’. This lapse in speaking (not speakin’) well makes my skin crawl. Please speak well and don’t annoy the Widow.
  • Similarly, PLEASE, for the LOVE of God, STOP, STOP, STOP, using the word “like” unless it’s to express fondness for or similarity to something or someone. Do NOT use it in any other way, because it is just plain WRONG, both grammatically and to my sensitive ears. And, if you have noticed a theme throughout this blog, it annoys me.
  • Let’s lump this group together into social graces: bratty, disrespectful children, pushy, entitled adults, condescending people, parents who don’t control their children in public and/or don’t engage them at dinner by allowing devices at the table. Put away the devices and have a conversation; people who don’t hold the door, say please and thank you or don’t wash their hands after using the restroom, people who are chronically late.
  • Fawners and phonies. These are people I truly cannot abide. Sometimes I think they don’t realize they are behaving in such a disingenuous manner. It must be exhausting. The nicest people I know are just themselves. It’s so refreshing. And not annoying at all.
  • Today’s fashion. Some is nice. Some not so nice. Here’s my take: Uggs need to go away. They are just not that cute. If you are over 40, you just should not wear them. I guess they’re kind of cute on high school and college girls, but once you reach a certain age, you’re just trying too hard. Sorry, my opinion. And leggings. I don’t care if you are a supermodel with glutes you can bounce a dime off. Cover the ass area. A nice long sweater or tunic, looks elongating and fashionable, paired with some nice, non-Uggs boots. The only time the butt should be out is at the gym. One comment on the popular quilted parkas with the fur trimmed hoods – why are the hoods so oversized? They impede your line of vision and are just too damn big. Why? Finally, the proverbially low-slung pants with the underwear hanging out – this has been around for some time. Come on guys. Show some respect. And stop being so annoying.
  • Some selfies are cute. I’m talking about the ones that are obviously meant to elicit a reaction – over and over again. They annoy me. And please don’t take them in the bathroom mirror. Enough said about that.
  • Disney freaks. These are the people (you know who you are) who think Disney is the place to go above all other destinations. Here’s a thought. Why not at least TRY another destination. It’s called expanding your horizons. You annoy me.
  • Elf on the Shelf. That little creep was a marketing coup for whomever came up with the idea. I heard someone say that in his day they called it “Belt on the Shelf.” The kids knew they had to behave or else. Now parents rely on this strange little androgynous spy who supposedly scares the kids into behaving a few weeks before Christmas. My attitude is one of pure annoyance. Big surprise there.

I have several other things that I could add to my list but that would be overkill, I think. I want to end this lengthy post with a few serious thoughts on some things that truly bother me, going way beyond mere annoyance. I am bothered by unkindness to others. I am bothered by bullying, especially to the defenseless. I am horrified by cruelty to children, the elderly, and animals. As we approach the holiday season, no matter what your faith or method of getting through life, I hope we can all agree that we are in this together and should just help each other when help is needed or ask for help. Never feel alone.

NOTE: I want to give a special shout out to my friends DB and KJ who provided me with some input on this blog. They annoy me sometimes, especially KJ’s hair, but they’re good people.

North and South

November 7, 2019

After my Rotary Club meeting this morning, instead of going directly home and changing out of my “nice” clothes into what could easily pass for something akin to “urban slob attire,” (I was wearing mascara and earrings after all) I decided to take care of a few items needing my attention. So, I took my car through the car wash. It was heavily coated in salt water residue after sitting adjacent to the ocean for a week and it badly needed attention. Then I decided a quick visit to the supermarket was in order. The market in question is part of a mid-size regional chain, family-owned, and its culture is decidedly quirky. I never know what to expect when I walk through the doors. What I do know I will always find are its constants: smiling faces, helpful attitudes, and people who are either excellent actors or who truly enjoy what they do. Everyone makes eye contact, says “hello,” inquires if I need anything and just generally has a helpful attitude. Among the more endearing features is the aroma of the bread department that greets your olfactory senses as soon as you walk in the door and the regular and fun announcements that “HOT BREAD just out of the oven!” both sure to cause a small stampede to the small, but well stocked bread counter. A few steps away are the bakery, deli, and produce, all overflowing with delectables. If you can escape without sampling, you are a stronger person than I. It is beyond tempting. It will have you in its clutches in seconds. There’s also a sushi chef on staff and you can literally buy your dinner because all sorts of hot entrees are ready for you to take home should you decide to forego cooking. It’s a mouthwatering dilemma. You can pick fresh herbs in any quantity, of course buy beer and wine – and grits – don’t forget the grits. This is the South, after all. I have never seen such a selection of grits. In this particular store, which isn’t large like the big chains, I am estimating there are at least a dozen varieties of grits from which to choose. One day, I will succumb and purchase. For now, I remain a Yankee.

As I wend my way through the aisles, being greeted by probably 90 percent of those I pass with a warm smile or hello, I am suddenly struck by the fact that I have been living here for almost seven months. I have transitioned from the north to the south. I am also keenly aware that there are profound and subtle differences between life in the north and life in the south. These are just my observations. They are not meant to cast aspersions or criticisms on either location. Each has its own charms and identity. So, as I have said before, don’t get your panties in a wad. This is a blog. It’s not the law of the land and will certainly not stand up in a court of law. We are all entitled to our opinions. For entertainment purposes only. Calm down. Isn’t that Taylor Swift’s newest single?

As I stated, the friendliness is what first struck me. I really am amazed at how everyone seems to have taken their happy pill. I have encountered one “snippy” individual who told me to “watch my truck” when apparently I was loading things into my car perilously close to his precious gun rack adorned manhood announcing air pollution inducing pick-up. I smiled sweetly; really, to those who know me, I AM capable of that on rare occasions, and said “of course.” But again, those who know me, know what I was saying under my breath. Insert snarky, no, really bitchy comment here. Other than that guy, I have encountered no unpleasantness. Coupled with that is the proverbial, “Yes ma’am, no ma’am” peppered into most sentences. Initially, I was a little taken aback, but I have come to love it. It’s really quite charming. The facilities people at my complex call me “Miss” followed by my first name but also use the “yes ma’am” etc. I asked someone about it and was told that it’s just the way it is. They are taught at home, in school. It’s a way of life. I will take it. We could use more of this attention to good manners in other parts of the country.

The accent. Some have the quintessential southern accent and some don’t. Lots of transplants here which explains the lack of accent, but even some of the locals don’t have one. Not sure why. I really like the drawl. Several of my fellow Rotarians have it and I enjoy it, y’all. Sweet Tea. It’s everywhere. I still drink unsweetened, but I hear it’s a beautiful thing; so I may have to give it a try.

One thing I have noticed, at least in the region of the south I am living in, is the property zoning, or should I say, lack of property zoning. It’s most noticeable in rural areas. Driving down a secondary road, you will encounter a lovely, upscale home in the $700,000 range. Travel a few hundred yards and you will see a doublewide trailer. To my knowledge, that’s not the norm where I used to live. It doesn’t bother me if it doesn’t bother them; I just find it odd. Coupled with this are “Thank You Jesus” signs. Not sure what these are about, but I am happy for them if they have something for which to be thankful.

Modes of transportation are pretty much the same as up north. What I have noticed, again, at least in my neck of the woods, is a preponderance of Camaros, Mustangs and Firebirds. Not sure why, but I am not complaining. Some of them are vintage and very well maintained. There are also lots of pick-ups which are customized with big wheels and other vestiges of southern living, including lots of bumper stickers with both political and other discussion inducing messages, which make for entertaining time spent at traffic stops.

The weather is better here, but it’s also a little bipolar. One day it’s 80 degrees, the next it’s 50. It can’t seem to decide sometimes. But I am not complaining. I haven’t experienced my first winter yet, but from what I hear, everyone here panics at the mention of snow, so I think I am good. As long as I have food, booze, my dog, and toilet paper, I am good. But let’s talk for a quick minute about the humidity. On some days, I officially have BIG. SOUTHERN. HAIR. It just happens. And the heat can be so bad that you literally must wait several minutes to let the car cool sufficiently before you can touch the steering wheel without sacrificing a layer of skin. Hotter than Hades I tell you.

I will be the first to pronounce that the bugs in the south are huge and scary and I hate them. Centipedes, millipedes, and cockroaches so big you can hear their footsteps on a bare floor – no exaggeration – are the norm here. I am not a fan, but I am proud to say that in the absence of my husband who was my bug-killing guy, I have put on my big girl panties and assumed the mantle of bug killer in my household. I am still terrified, but I get it done. Welcome to the South. They grow these critters big down here. I have noticed, still on the subject of critters, that the north has prettier birds. I have two bird feeders in my back yard and haven’t been able to attract much of a selection of attractive feathered friends. Still waiting.

There are many more differences and similarities to write about, but for now I will stop. I will continue to visit my neighborhood grocery, where they announce the twice daily staff meetings with “It’s show time” and hold them in full view of customers and end each meeting with the chicken dance – how cool is that? They also ask me each time at check out if I need help getting my groceries to my car. That’s Southern Hospitality for you! Or maybe it’s just because I look old. Hmmmm. Until next time.

Are You Feeling Lucky?

October 9, 2019

This year my husband and I would have celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary. People are surprised because of my youthful good looks, wrinkle-free complexion, flat stomach, and taut, girlish figure. It’s a curse I tell you. Everyone insists that I must have been a child bride because of the length of the years of our union and thus, by extension, the length of MY years on this earth. But, it’s true. I’m a senior citizen. I collect a pension and Medicare. I go to Harris Teeter on Thursdays because of their 5% senior discount. I have had a knee replacement and I am on a myriad of prescribed medications. I’m long in the tooth, So, of course, now that I am “single,” it stands to reason that I am beating off potential suitors with a stick. (read the entire sentence, you perverted bastards!) Ummm, that would be a big fat NO. Rewind several years. Throughout our marriage, we would periodically discuss our wishes for our spouse should one of us die. Sometimes it was in jest, as in, next time I marry for money instead of love; next time I marry someone with a certain “skill set” in the kinky romance department (even I can’t elaborate on this – there might be children present – I have some standards, no matter how low.) All kidding aside, both of us agreed that each of us would want the other to be happy and if that meant pursuing a relationship, even marriage, we would be fine with that, as long as we found someone worthy who would take care of our beloved’s emotional and other needs.

I haven’t had a date since 1972. Except for that one in November 2018 – that one date acquired through the dreaded, the unforgiving, the ridiculously artificial vehicle of online dating. My crazy friend (I will refer to her as CF and she’s not certifiably crazy in the clinical sense, though sometimes I wonder) after a night of frivolity (read dinner and drinks and then more drinks back at my place – too many so I wouldn’t let her drive home) decided it would be “fun” to sign me up for a dating site. She got my credit card, grabbed some photos off my Facebook page and went to town creating my profile. I thought it was funny at the time – until my VISA bill came in. Ugh. It took me almost a year to remedy this sad excuse for trying to create a semblance of a social life. When I sobered up, I realized that I had at least six months on at least four sites. As a writer, I also made major corrections and enhancements to my profile; I have a reputation to protect, people! This was obligatory.

And so it began. My foray into online dating was brief, but eye-opening. It wasn’t for lack of trying. Since I had six months where I was locked in, I decided to see what the fuss was all about. I know several people who’ve even married those they’ve met online. Either I am living in an alternate universe or I have a gift for attracting a plethora of freaks, all around jerks, pervs, narcissists, entitled assholes, just no one whom I would consider “normal.” My requirements were not unreasonable: be kind, have a sense of humor, like children, dogs (if they think cats are assholes, that’s a plus), music, trying new restaurants, and, because I am a writer, and it’s a huge deal for me, a good command of the English language and grammar skills is a must. So, I figured I would at least have some fun for six months, reading the daily barrage of “matches” sent to me by the dating sites, along with multiple “likes,” “flirts” and other terms used to indicate how very desirable I was. I was beginning to believe that I was quite the catch – until I saw who was interested in me. I began to question everything in my life. Was I grotesque and no one ever had the balls to tell me? I wasn’t a prolific dater in my younger years, but I did OK. My husband was adorable, sweet, funny, and kind. Some of his predecessors were also good looking and checked off a lot of the boxes. My high school sweetheart was also a cutie pie. And they were all smart and each had specific skill sets. Why now, after all these years was I suddenly queen of the loser brigade? Because they seemed to be the only ones interested. It seemed to intensify after my date that November. Looking back, I think maybe this guy was sent on a reconnaissance mission for the rest of his comrades, though in his defense, he was harmless and a sweet person.

Here’s where it went wrong. If you want to get lucky with me don’t ask to meet at a pizza place which is not conducive to talking. Don’t immediately start the conversation with telling me that you bruised your groin in a car accident the prior week. Honey, I’m sorry you’re hurting, but take an Advil and shut the hell up. I will be nowhere NEAR your groin now or ever. I knew that within the first 30 seconds, when you used a double negative. Sorry, I am a grammar snob. Also, if you want to get lucky with me, don’t project six months into the future discussing what beer festival we will attend. By God’s good grace, I was living six hours away in another state by then anyway, so, moot point. Also, when I return from the ladies’ room, two suggestions: Do NOT say “Everything come out all right?” That’s something my husband would say and it was endearing and funny, but honestly asshole, you don’t KNOW me, so your sorry attempt at humor was just that. And, number two (no pun intended) the eyes are up here. Please stop staring at my heaving bosoms. What are you, a 15-year-old boy? Of course, you are. Ugh. After a painfully plodding hour of conversation so tedious I truly would prefer watching paint dry, I politely bid my adieu and told Mr. Wonderful how lovely it was to meet him and made my escape. Of course, he wanted to see me again. I am that charming. I told him I was embarking on a 12-day cruise in another week and we would catch up. Lucky for me I ended up in the hospital a week after the cruise ended with a suspected stroke and remained there for two weeks in rehab and recovery as well as homebound for the next 90 days. Funny how things happen. Another blog. Let’s continue our current discussion.

Profile photos matter. They will determine if you’re going to get lucky with me. I saved a few photos of the most memorable gentlemen who reached out to me in hopes of starting a relationship. Suffice it to say their hopes were dashed. I never responded. But if they are reading this blog, perhaps they will rethink their choices. First impressions are the key to potentially lifelong relationships, fellas. Take the time and make the effort to show you care. Don’t take a selfie in front of a mirror with the toilet in the background. Do you have at least one friend who can do the honors? Here we go.

If you want to get lucky with me, listen carefully: bare chested doesn’t work for me. It makes me gag. Whether you’re in a pool, sucking your gut in on a beach chair or just a random shot in your back yard as if this is your normal way of going about your business, just don’t. I don’t want to see it. Not yet at least. So, don’t do it. I am not impressed. And I am not a prude. I just can’t stand these staged shots of you trying to show the ladies what they’re missing. I am happy to miss it. Next please.

If you want to get lucky with me, please have all your teeth. It’s just a thing I have. Call me superficial if you want. So be it. They don’t have to be yours. Implants are fine. Good dental care speaks to other areas of your existence and at this point in my existence, I am neither willing nor prepared to deal with your issues. Buh bye.

If you want to get lucky with me, wearing your oxygen canula in your profile photo, while admirable in its honesty is a real buzzkill for me. Call me shallow, but I am looking for a friend, not a patient. I don’t have a nursing degree, cannot give CPR, and have decided to start smoking again, so that might be an explosive situation, so I am truly sorry about that. Good luck in your search for a soulmate, aka caregiver.

If you want to get lucky with me, lying on your unmade bed with sheets that look like they haven’t seen the inside of a washing machine since the first Bush was President, is not going to get you any action, which is why your feeble attempts at a come hither look to lure me into your lascivious lair of indecency (be still my heart and quivering loins!) just won’t work. EVER. No way in hell. See ya.

If you want to get lucky with me, don’t lead with what you have. Honestly, I don’t care if you own a Jaguar and are a physician, lawyer or venture capitalist. Don’t pose with your Porsche. It’s annoying and arrogant. And it probably indicates that you are lacking in other areas. Wink, wink. Just be a nice guy. Is that too much to ask? The rest of that stuff is just that – stuff.

I have no desire to meet someone. I am perfectly content living my life, writing my blog, and trying to forge a new existence in my new home. If it happens so be it, perhaps at the grocery store, at a community event, doing volunteer work, at a bar, through friends, during a fender bender which will not be my fault, walking the dog. But it’s not going to happen online. That is nothing but a shit show if history is any indication. Where are the good ones?  I am not feeling lucky.

The Worst Day

September 18, 2019

I should have known that it was a metaphor. June 10. The day was miserable from the moment I woke up. For June it was chilly. Torrential downpours, unrelenting all day. I was off to work to a day of meetings and more meetings – something I always dreaded because I had always felt that days like this were at once exhausting and unproductive. My husband was happily ensconced at home. While his health wasn’t great, he was in a good place and he was content. We had a nice routine and things were going along swimmingly. Both our daughters were now living in the south, just twenty miles or so apart. Younger daughter was a newlywed of less than a year and older daughter had just returned to work after the birth of baby #4, whom I will call “Baby J,” a sweet little boy. Hubby and I had been surprised when daughter and son-in-law had announced that Baby J was on the way. They already had two boys and when their third was a daughter, we felt sure they were “done.” But, if any couple is meant to be parents, these two are. They have so much love to give and in my daughter’s words “we just thought, why not add to the chaos?” We all happily anticipated the new addition.

And so, Baby J arrived without fanfare on March 2, but this is not to say he wasn’t loved; because we all adored him. His siblings were so excited and showered him with attention. The grandparents were thrilled of course. And the icing on the proverbial cake was that his middle name was my husband’s name, something that brought my hubby to tears, that’s how proud he was and how he and Baby J seemed to have a special bond from the very beginning. And, as my daughter had alluded, the chaos heightened. When you are child number four, there is no down time; in fact, it’s always go time. By a couple weeks of age, Baby J was going to baseball and soccer games with his siblings, the grocery store, church, you name it. A couple months after he was born, he even got on a plane to visit family in Colorado and there are photos to prove that strapped to his mother’s chest, he hiked in the Rockies. The kid was leading a pretty phenomenal existence. And he had so many people to care for him, teach him, love him and protect him. What a great life. It was a life he led with a perpetual smile. Such a sweet, sweet smile and amazingly sweet disposition. He never seemed to be unhappy. He gave all of us pure, unmitigated joy. And while he didn’t know it, he had so much to look forward to with the family that he had. His was a blessed life.

And then, he died. Just like that. No warning. No illness. No accident. He simply died. Baby J went down for a nap and did not wake up. On a chilly June day with torrential downpours. The call came through to the executive secretary’s desk outside the conference room where I was in my third meeting of the day. It was mid-afternoon. I was summoned out of the meeting by the secretary that there was an emergency call from my daughter. I typically did not bring my cell phone into meetings. Lesson learned. Now it never leaves me. The moment I heard my daughter’s anguished words through her inconsolable tears, I knew in that one moment that our lives had forever been altered. “Mom, Baby J died.” Seen in black and white, one cannot appreciate the level of anguish in her sobs. It was heart wrenching. I was 360 miles away and there was nothing I could do to ease this nightmare for her. Frankly the miles between us had nothing to do with it. A mother always wants to take away her child’s pain. In this case, I was useless, regardless if I was in the same room or on the phone.

The next several hours are a blur. I ran back to my office to call my husband. It was the hardest call I ever had to make and what I had to tell him was something I truly wished I didn’t have to do by telephone, but because we needed to hit the road ASAP, it would be the most efficient, because several things needed to be accomplished before starting the drive south. My husband, “Grandpa” was devastated and kept saying he wished God had taken him instead. And I know he meant it. He loved that little boy so much. The drive down that night was treacherous – heavy rains, hydroplaning, poor visibility – all interspersed with our conversation, tears and often painful silences. The theme was WHY? And WHAT? WHY would God do this to our daughter and son-in-law who are two of the best people we know and WHAT can we do to help them get through this? We had to get through it too, but we needed to focus on them first and foremost. Each of us silently pleaded for strength. And clung to each other throughout the days we spent down south and thereafter. It’s a pain like no other.

As ugly as the weather was on that most awful of days, the subsequent days we spent down there were absolutely stunning with warm temperatures and bright skies. Baby J’s death also brought out the very best in people. Friends, neighbors, co-workers and even complete strangers enveloped Baby J’s family with love, support, food, and much needed alcohol. And there was so much to do as anyone who has had to prepare a funeral knows. And, thanks to organization, and many hands on-deck, we got it done. I had one small melt-down at the neighborhood pharmacy picking up a few prescriptions for my daughter. Her doctor had also called in a prescription for a sleeping aid, which because it was a controlled substance, needed prior insurance authorization and so Mr. Pharmacist refused to release the prescription to me. At this point, our little Baby J had been gone for three days, the viewing was scheduled for the next day and the funeral the following day, and my daughter essentially had not had any useful or restful sleep. I told him firmly what had happened and all he needed to give me was enough to get us through the next three or four days and we could wait on the rest and that I wasn’t going to leave until I had four pills. He initially stood his ground, but this stubborn Irishman stood hers with such a glare on her face which I guess was intimidating because it worked. I walked out of the pharmacy with what we needed to give my daughter some much needed sleep for the days ahead.

One thing that struck me during this time was that daughter and son-in-law, while dealing with this unthinkable loss, were always making sure that the other was doing OK. This has always been the hallmark of their marriage and something I have always admired. They also made it a point to spend one-on-one time with Baby J’s siblings who were having a difficult time grasping the finality of this tragedy. Like I said, they are exceptional parents. I also need to mention my younger daughter and her husband here. She and her sister have always been best friends and for that I have always been grateful. She and her hub truly were the best support system for them during the early days of this nightmare and going forward. They love their nieces and nephews and provided a much-needed distraction for them when Baby J’s parents needed some alone time. I love them for that.

The visitation and funeral mass were jam-packed, I believe a testament to the kind of people my daughter and son-in-law are and the impact they have had on their community, but let’s face it, the death of a three-and-a-half-month-old baby touches everyone in a palpable way, an incredibly sad way. The hymns, the scriptures, the eulogies (delivered by Baby J’s mommy and daddy) were heart-wrenching and beautiful. It was truly a celebration of life – a short life, but a life of meaning and a life that touched all those who loved him.

That was six years ago. He would be starting first grade now. Baby J will always be that smiling little boy who would squeal in delight when his brothers made him laugh. This should not have happened, but I don’t have the right to question God’s plan. It happened. The horror of that day will never leave. I wish I could have done more to ease my daughter’s pain, but I know she doesn’t feel that way. We all remember that debilitating nightmare and somehow can still find joy in our lives again. We must, or we will wither up and have no purpose. But we will never forget it, because it was the worst day.

Bruno, Birds, Bar Stools and Bee Stings

September 3, 2019

What can you say about an 11-pound ball of fur who is so full of anxiety that a Valium that could “take down a horse” in the words of his vet, was intimidated, that is if Valium were capable of feelings, and thus rendered useless? Bruno is my dog, though a couple of my brothers would argue that he is a rodent. One brother defines a REAL dog as one “who can kill me but chooses not to.” Bruno came to me through a rescue organization. I am a strong proponent of dog rescue. I will not go to a breeder. I am not here to disparage those who use breeders, but I would rather share my home with a creature who otherwise might end up euthanized. Plus, there are some adorable pups to be found and usually they are so grateful to be chosen. It’s as if they possess a sixth sense that this may be their last chance. My family and I have always had pets. At one time, we had two dogs and four cats. Hats off to my husband, the saintly one, because he was deathly allergic to cats and yet tolerated these annoying little shitheads for several years. I do love kittens, but when they grow into cats, I almost want to lock my door at night because I fear they are plotting my death. Cats are never grateful. They have a sense of entitlement that annoys the crap out of me. “Oh, you’re home? Get me dinner, now, bitch.” (I know all my cat-owner friends and relatives are now hissing at me. You have always known this about me, so quit whining. Try becoming cold and unfeeling like your cats.) Whereas with dogs, you’re gone for ten minutes to take a shower and they are overjoyed that “you came back, Mommy, you came back!” Bruno’s sense of abandonment is palpable. When I return home, it takes me several minutes to talk him off the cliff and get his blood pressure down to a non-life-threatening level with assurances that “Mommy isn’t going anywhere else today.”

About six months before my husband died, we had to make the difficult decision to put down our final pet, a 15-year-old long-haired Chihuahua, who was both blind and incontinent, and frankly miserable. But he was my hubby’s buddy. In fact, we had a standing joke. I had said to him: “Gun to your head, you, the dog, and I are stranded on a desert island and you could only save one of us, whom would you choose?” He thought for a moment and said with a not well disguised smirk “well, you’ve had a good life.” I think I told him he was an asshole after that and possibly withheld sex, but you get the picture—he loved that damn dog. I had seen the dog’s deterioration while my husband was recuperating in rehab, but I wanted him to make the decision. And as painful as it was, it was pretty easy—and obvious. The animal was suffering and deserved not to be. And frankly for me, as my husband’s caregiver, one less burden made things a bit easier for all concerned. So, a few days later, we gave him a peaceful end to a good life and shed some tears at his absence. Not seeing him in his favorite spot on my hub’s lap was a bit of a shock and in retrospect in some small way prepared me for my husband’s absence a few short months later. To those without four-legged family members, you will never understand the huge presence and comfort our pets provide and when they leave us the profound void that remains.

Now for Bruno, a nine-year-old short-haired Chihuahua. My daughter found him on a rescue site she and I had both been trolling. I had been widowed for about a year and the timing was good. But I kept trying to talk myself out of it. Owning a dog is a commitment. I will give this to cats – they are easier, smarter, and cleaner. Dogs require walking, an outside space to “do their business” and they generally enjoy/require human interaction. Ultimately, after meeting Bruno and being interviewed by the rescue folks, I knew I had to have him. The only problem was that there were at least four other families who were of the same mind. In the end, my charming and guileless personality won them over. Or did I get the pity vote? Or was it because Bruno seemed to need someone who would be there for him more than they were able? It certainly wasn’t by what the rescue people witnessed. Bruno wouldn’t even look at me. He was petrified. Somehow, once I was chosen and they brought him to his new home, it didn’t take long (read 18 hours) for Bruno to warm up to his new Mommy. Either I’m a cheap date, or he is just that needy. I choose to believe the latter, though some of my former boyfriends might argue the first, but that’s for a different discussion and vodka will need to be involved – but I digress.

Because I adopted a rescue, I have little to no information on Bruno (a Chihuahua who believes he is a Rottweiler) and his history, which means I can’t put my finger on or formulate a theory as to why he is so neurotic. The irony is that while other dogs freak out over thunder, lightning, fireworks and other loud noises, Bruno is totally CHILL. He simply doesn’t care, in fact, he seems fascinated by it. BUT, if I leave for a few hours, he loses his shit – sometimes literally. The separation anxiety is unmistakable. There are times it wears on me and I want to yell at him to calm the hell down, but I realize that won’t help but will rather compound his problem. The bottom line is I love the little dude. He is a diva in so many ways. Yes, he sleeps in my bed. He has his own pillow and doesn’t move all night. Sometimes he snores and it’s adorable. I’m not sure why I didn’t feel that way about my hub’s snoring; oh, that’s right, his snoring was akin to the sound of a herd of buffalo running across a frozen fjord during a hurricane while dragging a thousand cinder blocks behind them. Bruno’s is more like a cute little vibrating chirp. His favorite place is on my lap. If I am reading, he may suddenly decide that he’s done with that and will use his head to push the book or Kindle out of the way so that I can give all my attention to him. If I am on my laptop, for instance, writing my blog, the same thing may happen, though his method of showing his annoyance is to nip at my thigh. He’s a turd, but he’s my turd and I adore him. Bruno is my dude and came into my life at the perfect time. He was a distraction initially as I navigated living without my husband. Since then he has become that sweet soul who makes me smile every day and who has a firm grip on my heart. I can’t imagine my life without the little pain in the ass.

Since this is a sort of stream of consciousness blog, I need to quickly mention the other topics in the header. So, let’s move on to BIRDS. Before I moved down south, I had nine bird feeders and enjoyed watching the many varieties of feathered creatures congregating to enjoy the appropriate foods I provided. Moving to my new home, I decided to keep it simple (and cheaper) and put up one feeder. Unfortunately, the birds were boring. I almost looked up on my bird identification app to see if there was a “boring bird” species. There were female cardinals, an occasional male cardinal, a robin here and there, and once or twice a nuthatch, but rarely anything that sparked my attention or was visually interesting. All it took to add more diversity and birds of color was to buy a second feeder and a different feed, thistle to be exact, to attract goldfinches. The quality and quantity has improved considerably. Sitting outside with a cup of coffee early in the morning is the perfect time to quietly watch these wondrous creatures visit the feeders partaking of the repast you have provided and singing their melodies of joy. I highly recommend it. It’s relaxing. It’s therapeutic. It’s restorative. It truly provides a sense of well-being.

We come to BAR STOOLS. As a woman who lives alone and often goes out alone, I have learned to become more comfortable sitting at a bar alone. It’s not always easy. I don’t consider myself a so-called “single” woman. I still feel married, still wear my wedding band. I am perfectly happy with my life and am not searching for “someone.” I do have permission from my crazy friend, who told me I could not identify her even with an initial, but that in a future blog, to tell the story of how she signed me up for a bunch of dating websites. It took me almost a year to straighten that mess out. Thank you, my friend whose name starts with one of those 26 letters. You gave me a lot to laugh about, lightened my bank account, gave me fodder for a lot of alcohol-fueled conversations (and future blogs) and a real questioning of some of the freaks out there in the dating world. One more thing about sitting at a bar alone. I am just there to have a drink and an appetizer. I have no agenda. I don’t have the energy for that. After I leave, I will likely go home and go to bed – with Bruno.

BEE STINGS. I was stung by a bee this morning – twice. The little bastard wasn’t satisfied stinging me once; he came back and got me again in a different location on the same arm, as I was filling the aforementioned birdfeeders. Or maybe it was his wife or disgruntled mistress who got me the second time. Can the same bee sting you twice? I know people can. I don’t know, it just hurt.

So, that’s my story and I am sticking to it. Time to pour a glass of wine, put my feet up, wait for Bruno to jump on my lap – and just BE.


August 16, 2019

Earlier this week, my grandson started high school. I wasn’t there, but I am guessing his mother, my firstborn, bit her bottom lip and fought back a tear or two. When I saw the photos she posted, I know I did. This handsome boy, who isn’t too cool to still give me a big hug when he sees me or tell me “I love you, Grandma” was off to his next adventure in this thing we call life. He and his new classmates divest themselves of another parental restraint and test new waters while their parents hope and possibly pray that they don’t screw it up. I remember those feelings. When our children hit certain milestones, their Dad and I were sure we had done all we could to prepare them, knowing that we would be there to help them pick up the pieces if needed, but ultimately, they had to carry the load. It was on them. We changed our guiding message as they grew, adjusting it to be age appropriate. “Listen to teacher.” “Use kind words.” “Be good to one another.” “Make good choices.” “Don’t be an idiot.” “If I find out you are (Insert appropriate bad, possibly illegal behavior here.) you will regret it.” “Don’t measure your worth by whether you have a man on your arm.” “Always treat others as you want to be treated.” “If you’ve been drinking, call anytime and we will pick you up, no questions asked.” “This is a home, not a restaurant. Eat what’s being served, or don’t eat. Nothing but water until breakfast.” “It’s not my job to make your existence a fairy tale. Quit your whining. Life is hard. Get used to it.” And my personal favorite: “You better hope the cops get to you before I do.” The list goes on; you get the picture.

So, as I thought about my grandson this week and how he will be navigating new situations, it brought me to my own. After a health scare late last year (separate blog), I made the decision (though the bossier of my two children would beg to differ, claiming it was hers) that it was time to relocate. So, I did. I left the Northeast for the Southeast. No more snow (or very little), warmer (read often stifling) temperatures, slightly cheaper (but not really) cost of living, and a place where everyone calls me “Ma’am.” I arrived in April, Tax Day to be exact, and in some ways, I feel like my 14-year-old high school freshman grandson. The first few weeks, I didn’t know anyone, except for those to whom I was related. I didn’t know my way around, and honestly, I had a real sense of trepidation. And, I didn’t have my partner, my husband, which would have made this new life a lot more fun, because we could do it together. Have I told you that losing your spouse really sucks? It’s been almost four years and some days I swear it’s harder than it was four years ago. I wish I knew why. But I digress.

I had lived in the same place for close to 40 years. Moving and downsizing was a reminder that “stuff” doesn’t make you happy. Get rid of it. What is her name? Marie Kondo? This woman comes in a tiny package of determination to help us get rid of “stuff.” I was never one for accumulating a lot of things, but my husband was, so when we initially started the downsizing process a little over four years ago, it was certainly a daunting task. His health issues had hampered his ability to walk and see and he was quite weak. Thankfully, my daughters and their wonderful husbands took on the gargantuan job of purging the crap out of our large family home. And I am here to tell you, it was a job. They got it done over a long weekend and we were in great shape; a huge dumpster and countless trips to Goodwill notwithstanding. Two weeks later he died. So, a southern expedition was put on hold. I wasn’t ready to make that change without my love. The very thought of doing it by myself gave me angina and a sense of profound loneliness. Fast forward three years and my health scare (a separate blog, I promise) and suddenly I realized that the decision was essentially made for me due to circumstances over which I had little control. Perhaps that was a blessing in disguise. Change was coming.

So, here I am in the sunny south. All the boxes are unpacked. My place is beginning to feel like home. I am learning my way around and beginning to make some friends. On the friends’ front, it’s likely that my big mouth has helped. I am a people person for sure. I like people and I think/hope people like me.  Yes, I did “audition” several bars/restaurants to see which one would be a suitable replacement for my dear friends at home who always made me feel special and not like a single woman on the prowl (another blog) because she sits alone at the bar. To my good fortune, I found “my place” and I couldn’t be happier, and I have met some lovely people. I have met a few neighbors who are pleasant, seem to get my snarky humor and have welcomed me with open arms. I joined a Rotary Club; again, after auditioning several and feel very much at home and look forward to getting my hands dirty doing some good works for my new community. The biggest trauma for me was finding a new hair salon. I have been using the same stylist for 20 years. She was 19 and fresh out of school when we became a couple. She just turned 40. I will never get over our divorce. Neither of us wanted it and we still email and text. It’s very painful. I love you, Suzanne! New doctors have been procured, a new vet for my rescue Chihuahua, who believes he is a Rottweiler, groceries, pharmacy, malls, you name it. I am still finding my way and trying to achieve a level of comfort in my “new normal.” (I hate these clichés and of course, you guessed it, will be addressing such in a separate blog.)

So, as my adorable 14-year-old grandson is learning to adapt to all the changes in his life, I on some level, can relate. This semi-adorable 69-year-old grandmother is also learning to adapt, albeit slowly to all the Ch..Ch..Ch..Changes in hers. With apologies to David Bowie.