Tuesday, October 16, 2018

You Just Keep Me Hanging On

One evening last week, I was working the phone like my job was in a call center: stressful and with frustrating results.  The buyer of my house was begging for ANOTHER extension since he hadn’t sold his townhouse. My realtor was insisting that we squash the deal and let him find me a “real” buyer-something that he hadn’t produced in the previous five months. I was trying to juggle meeting up with a friend who simultaneously was trying to juggle a mandatory visit to an in-law in the hospital. A lot of talk with no action.

That night, I had a dream about Wingman which shocked me because I don’t recall having even one dream about him since he died. In it, we were on a cruise ship which was apropos, since he said, after our only cruise together, that the next one would be “over his dead body”.

The ship was at port, but the sea was rough, and water was breaking over the bow. A large wave swept me into white water on the deck. Suddenly, a hand grabbed my wrist, and wouldn’t let go. I was tossed around under the water but because of the grip, I couldn’t right myself dammit. As the water subsided, I looked at the person who grabbed my hand to yell at him for almost drowning me. I couldn’t see the face, but the voice was definitely Wingman’s. The body however, with the six-pack abs certainly was NOT. I gasped out loud and sat bolt upright in bed. If not Wingman, who the hell was it? And why didn’t I thank him for trying to save me?

Hello 4:17 AM. Welcome to my panic attack.

I asked Google, or “G”, my know-it-all husband of sorts what the dream represented. Drowning? Being overwhelmed. The hand holding? Loneliness. And the six-pack abs? My inner desire of how I want to see myself.

Yes, I know, time to go back to the gym.

I’m suffering with the paralysis of analysis right now. I want to move, but can’t because my buyer can’t sell. Because of that, I can’t get motivated to pack. I won’t relist the house because it will require me to live like a guest in my own home-again. I want to join a gym, and know I SHOULD. But I know me and if I really do move, I know that I won’t go which is a waste of money that I don’t have because I CANT SELL THIS STUPID HOUSE. I lay in bed flipping between apps like Redfin looking at townhouses I can’t have and Our Time, looking at men I don’t want.

Truth be told, I’ve been working myself up into a mental frenzy about a year from now when I have two weddings on the same weekend. Both are the daughters of dear friends and I couldn’t be happier for them. But after feeling totally alone at a wedding a couple of years ago, it took jumping out of an airplane for me to regain my sense of worth. To be dateless at two? It may require being ejected from a fighter jet to get over that. There is however. one happy thought I'm holding onto: I may not have a dance partner, but there also will be no one to tell me that I can’t have a second piece of wedding cake. Two days in a row.

Then I’ll think about that gym membership. For real.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Like Painted Kites, Those Days and Nights, They Went Flyin' By

Just call me Rip Van Widow. I went to bed on the last night of spring, and woke up on the first day of fall.  WHAT HAPPENED TO SUMMER??? More importantly, why does summer seem to get shorter every year?

Many years and a lifetime ago with three ridiculously active sons, I spent all of my days off between June and August either at a baseball field or on the beach.  It was infinitely satisfying sitting doing absolutely nothing except the NY Times Sunday Crossword (in pen) while enjoying a pork roll, egg and cheese sandwich along with a cup of coffee. The only way I knew where I was headed, was by what I wore. A tank top was important in keeping my tan lines in check, but wearing a bathing suit to a baseball game would have embarrassed the hell out of my sons.

Watching baseball games with Wingman was fine, but going to the beach with him was not. While the boys took all of about 10 seconds to scatter like cockroaches from the horrors of being associated with us, going with Wingman was akin to the hassle of bringing a baby: he needed a regular lounge chair with an umbrella, a blanket, radio, food, drink, sunscreen AND something to do. When he was bored, he wanted me to put down my book and talk to him. He wanted me-a non ocean person-to go in the water when HE was hot. Eventually he made us all happier when he chose to just stay home and watch the Yankees on TV.

Being on my own these past six years, I've tried to make summers different from the ones before Wingman died. The first was my “Karma” year volunteering with the YMCA to build a playground and again with another group, helping special needs kids enjoy the beach. The second was a feeble attempt to rework Wingman's yard. I've been to Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, circuses and fairs. No, I didn't get arrested for scattering Wingman's ashes in Monument Park, and yes, the circus protesters did, trying to free the elephants.

This year, I wanted a summer to remember so I made a Bucket List of everything I wanted to do and everywhere I wanted to go. I surprised myself with how much I really did,  and as it turns out, some of the most simple were the most memorable like blueberry picking with my grandkids and seeing their joy in bringing that $40 almost full PINT (after spending $14 per person to get in, the bushes were mostly picked clean) home to their parents. Or saying "On your mark, get set...GO!" and jumping off the platform over and over again at the lake with my grandson.

I saw Broadway shows and rock concerts, heard bands at bars and went to a couple of barbecues. There were the predictable sunsets to see, beach with the BFF, and an almost annual tradition of going to Saratoga race track with son #3. I made a point to go to places that Wingman HATED like the crowded July 4th fireworks, firemen's fairs and even a mermaid parade.

There was also the unexpected that was added to, but not intended to be on my list: my car breaking down while I watched dozens of hot air balloons ascend at sunrise. It took 5 hours to get towed 50 miles only to have to lease a brand new car a couple of days later. (I was pretty proud of myself with that deal.  The salesman said that I was scary-good at negotiating.) Oh yeah, and that broken filling which led to a crown which led to a root canal...

And now, its fall and everyone's starfish and mermaids have morphed into pumpkins.  The shelves in the grocery store are filled not only with Halloween candy but some marketing idiot's idea that pumpkin Cheerios, pumpkin Oreos and even pumpkin pie Pop Tarts are a good idea. I'm ready to close my eyes again and wake up on Christmas Eve.

But first, I have a new Bucket List for fall.  One that's already started with a high school football game, and a trip to Yankee Stadium, and includes a street fair, a couple of concerts (including one on my birthday seeing The Boss) and going to Florida with the BFF.  I have question marks next to places like a Lantern Festival, Sleepy Hollow at Halloween, and oh yes, moving-a task not yet complete from my summer list.  If it doesn't happen real soon, the item "visit a jail or penitentiary" will get a check mark, because I will put a beating on someone.

I  read somewhere that if you make friends with yourself, you might be alone, but you will never be lonely. The voices in my head at 2 AM most nights can attest to that. Being alone means that I'm the lead dog and can do just about anything new and exciting I find, which is great, because, as they sang in "Bye Bye Birdie": "I've got a lot of living to do".

I just wish I was doing it IN THE SUMMER.


Sunday, July 29, 2018

Cause You Had A Bad Day, You're Taking One Down, You Sing a Sad Song Just To Turn It Around

Thanks to social media, I'm able to remember all of the happy moments I've shared to prove to mostly total strangers how wonderful my life is.  Today, I had what started out to be one of those days, a day that I was happy to share worldwide...followed with another of those events that I blog about.  And for some reason, Social Media reminded me that today, July 29th, has historically not been a date that I want to remember.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

For The First Time In History, It's Gonna Start Raining Men

There is an old saying about how things happen in threes.  With Wingman dying, my house flooding and losing my job-all in three months, you'd think that I would have been happy with just the 2012 version "Been There, Done That" tee shirt and given myself a pass.  But no, this year-with losing my job and putting the house on the market, I wanted another three-peat.

Because I was going to dump a man.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Love and Marriage, Go Together Like a Horse and Carriage

The Royal wedding is over. The royal horse manure has been picked up, the fascinators are back in their boxes and even Joss Stone, who sang at the royal after-party, is back in NJ with my brother rewiring her house. I’ll admit that I got caught up, along with about 1 in every 10 people in America. Today, on the eve of my anniversary, it's hard not to think about the glaring contrasts between the that and my own wedding, and even some of the others I've been a part of.

First of all, they got picture perfect weather while I married Wingman in a Nor'Easter which flooded the entire Jersey Shore peninsula. I sloshed down the aisle after my train fell in a puddle outside the church-no cute, toothless pages to carry it in. The flooding meant that people just couldn't show up to our $35 per person (including $2.00 extra for shrimp cocktail) beach reception, which certainly wasn't the case at the $45 million British bash.  I'll bet the royal guests would have paddled their own canoes to the castle if they had to. At the end of the night, Wingman's Best Man's uninvited quasi-girlfriend (a girl who yes, just showed up-good thing we had empty seats) took the top tier of my cake as well as the dorky dove topper-both which were never seen again. By the looks of Royal Best Man William's slim bride Kate, I doubt she even had a piece of the lemon elderberry cake, much less stole a whole layer.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

She’s Leaving Home After Living Alone For So Many Years

Wingman was a partner in an up-and-coming Dotcom company which was eventually bought out by a much larger Dotcom company. The owner got cash for his shares of stock while all the limited partners got was their stock transferred to the new company. When the owner bought a big, beautiful  home, Wingman wanted a bigger home too. We argued about selling our little ranch-after all, in just a couple of years, the boys would be starting college (think tuition) and moving on. And where would we get the money for that bigger mortgage? Wingman rationed that once he could sell his stock, we'd be fine. Very reluctantly, I agreed to buy the home I live in now.

One week before we closed, Wingman lost his job.

A month later, a tree in the front yard keeled over, hit the house and broke the front door.

Two months later, the Dotcom bubble burst, and the stock we owned wasn't worth the paper it was printed on.

Boy, did I hate that house then.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Closing Time-Every New Beginning Comes From Some Other Beginning’s End

Once again, the unthinkable has happened.

The company where I am (well, WAS) a manager opted not to renew our store’s ten year lease. A few months short of a decade with this company, I find myself once again facing the challenge of looking for a new job.

The day I learned about the store closing, I was in NYC seeing the Christmas windows at Saks and Macy's, having lunch, doing some shopping, and was having a drink before getting on the train to come home. My phone rang and I got a message to call someone in Human Resources. Like the phone call I got when working at Wrinkle City, it’s never good when someone from HR wants you. True to form, I was told about my store and many others that would be closing in 45 Days. Besides it sucking to end the day like that, I left my only gloves on the seat in the bar. My hands stayed cold for weeks.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Long and Winding Road That Leads to Your Door

History was never my favorite subject in high school. I recall failing a test freshman year when I tried to pass off a line from Cool Hand Luke as something to do with the Monroe Doctrine. Unfortunately, “What we have here is a failure to communicate” didn’t fool my teacher.

My ancestry was as vague to me as the Monroe Doctrine. It wasn’t until my oldest started looking at colleges that I thought about delving deeper into my lineage. Since winning a scholarship  for making a suit out of duct tape seemed futile, I looked into ones that he might get-like the Shamrock Irish Heritage Contest for my Mom’s side of the family, or the Sons of Italy Foundation Grant for my Dad’s. Or one I really wanted him to get-a Native American scholarship.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

'Cause Baby You're A Firework. Come On Show Them What You're Worth

Five years ago today, I stood in a hospital room strewn with used syringes, rubber gloves and other medical waste, looking at the lifeless body of the man that I shared a life with for over 30 years. I should have been thinking of family, love and loss.  Instead, my first thought was, "Wow, I'm a widow now." Pretty pathetic in retrospect, and when Wingman referred to me just before I left him as "The Bitch", probably not too far off the mark.

But in time-warped speed just a half hour before that, I had already talked to the hospital twice, woken son #3 up to go over to the hospital with me, called Wingman's brother on the way, fought with a gimpy legged night watchman who wouldn't let us in the hospital, and finally took "that meeting" in a small private room where the doctor told my son and I that they did everything possible, but unfortunately (UNFORTUNATELY???) Wingman had passed. My brain was filled with what to do, who to call, and what was coming next.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

But She Use To Have A Carefree Mind Of Her Own, With A Devilish Look In Her Eye

The first time I went out with Wingman, he remarked about how much I reminded him of his mother.  When we finally met, I just didn't see it: she was a tall, chain-smoking blonde, with a Lauren Bacall-esque voice, while I considered myself just an average size brunette with no distinguishable qualities.

She and I began our own relationship with stories about our lives, and she won every round of "Can You Top This". At 10 years old, she helped deliver her brother when her mother went into labor at home. Later, her alcoholic mother walked out on the family and was never seen or heard from again, so she dropped out of school to help. At 19, she and her husband eloped, and thought no one knew.  A photographer however, took a picture of them outside City Hall which became the cover of the afternoon edition of the NY World Telegram. (Oops.) A couple of years later, her very pregnant self drove her father and his equally pregnant girlfriend to City Hall in Newark to MAKE them get married.  Her half-brother was born a week after Wingman. Mouth dropping stuff that urban legends are made of.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Be Our Guest, Be Our Guest, Put Our Service To The Test

This week is/would be/should be my 35th wedding anniversary.  It's an anniversary that, with the boys all grown, I should be with the man I was destined to grow old with, exploring someplace romantic or at the very least having a romantic dinner.  We should be reminiscing about the good times and the bad and what made our marriage strong enough to get to where we are now. I'm angry and sad and extremely jealous because so many of my other friends are doing exactly that.

 I needed to channel my anger in a positive way. And I'm doing it with diamonds. Baseball diamonds that is.

You Just Keep Me Hanging On

One evening last week, I was working the phone like my job was in a call center: stressful and with frustrating results.  The buyer of ...