Musical Mid-Life Crisis… Help Needed

Arrow pierced ego
Now wounded… looking to heal.
Need cool doctor, stat.
I did a very parent thing this weekend. I have been enjoying the ‘free’ Sirius radio in my new car… and have pre-selected the following stations: 70’s on 7, 80’s on 8, 90’s on 9, Hits 1 and 20 on 20. These last two are my vain (and I do mean vain) attempt to get myself remotely up to speed on current popular music. It’s been funny to switch between decades and listen to what are screamingly different musical styles and markers. What strikes me most about current pop music is the persistent thump thump of the deep bass… Up until recently I thought that every young person listening to the radio was just playing their music overly loud given I could hear them coming 1/4 mile away. But now I realize that is simply the nature of today’s music.

So I was out with the kids running errands , scanning between stations. I settled on something by the Eagles on the 70s on 7 station and began to sing along… and my 10 year daughter, AP, started sighing loudly. Could you please get off this station mom? I turned it up. Mom, anything in this decade please? I turned it up again. You do realize this is music grandma listened to when she was in her 30’s?  Huh, what??? And then I understood it. My daughter went for the low blow… she translated “old music” into the most abhorrent comparison that could possibly be made at that time. While I was sitting there thinking “why I listened to this when I was your age, dear, and how cool that I still know the words” she reached back  a generation to remind me that my mother (who although not “old” in spirit or frame, has started her journey into her 70’s) listened to this when she was younger than I am today.

Ouch. That hurt, I must admit.  (No offence mom… I know you understand.) I responded as maturely as I could at the time. I turned it up again and told her as long as she complained she wasn’t getting anything close to current music. But it has gotten me thinking that I really do need to update my music library on iTunes. I have no illusion that I will be either mother of the year or the coolest mom in the class, but I want to be interestingly eclectic and fun to be around while still maintaining that mystery known as “she’s a mom… who knows what she’ll do”. That requires me to invest a little.

This is all part of my current foray into a modest mid-life crisis. It started with a weekend away in the fall, alone.  It approached its peak on my 45th birthday in February. It continued with the purchase of a car that I thought made me cooler than I am – a combination of  unusual yet practical (a fire engine red Ford Flex with the Eco Boost engine…this last feature allows me to blow away thumping teenagers at stop lights. Yes, that matters to me; see earlier reference to mid-life crisis).  And it may be topping out with recent purchases of a bucket load of clothes at J Jill and the desire to revamp my iPod playlists. At least I hope it has peaked… I’m going broke.

Here’s the problem. I have no idea what music to buy. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to ask AP for her thoughts. I refuse to show weakness. I just want to slip in a few new songs in the tired playlists I have set up for family listening.

Can you help me? What are some current artists (last 5 years) you recommend I spend time and money getting to know? Really appreciate it.

I’m Cheating on My Husband (Honey, Don’t Read This)

Well… paybacks are hell;
And I deserve to suffer;
But it’s so worth it.

He is traveling… My mind wanders. A sly smile crosses my face as I picture possibilities.

What to do, what to do…

And like Phineas, a voice in my head shouts: “Maureen, I know what we’re going to do today! Make pancakes for dinner so the kids will like you more than dad.”

And with that, I cheat on Frank. I use his “out of town-ness” as a means to ingratiate myself to the children. Pancakes for dinner are just the start. There’s an indoor picnic (my 21st Century name for eating on the floor in front of the TV). There’s dessert and skipping brushing teeth. There a 3D movie in my bed, lights off, just like the movies.  There’s staying up just a little extra and no book reading.

I am evil. Bwah hah hah. Any chance I get to establish myself as the cool mommy, I take it. Even if it means cheating on Frank and doing with the kids something I would normally discourage in an otherwise normal school night.  You see, I don’t volunteer in the classroom; it’s taken me the whole year to schedule a “reading” session with my son’s class; the babysitter makes a better sandwich than I do and I’m pretty sure the girl scout troop is scared of me. So I’m going to take any advantage I can.

Mind you, I’m not good at hiding my cheating ways. Thirty seconds after this posts, his email will tweedle its arrival. He will read it (at least he claims he does), so I do this with full knowledge that he is now fully aware and I’m stone cold busted.

But he’s traveling right now and can’t do a damn thing about it.   Heh heh heh…

Best (Un-used) Comeback Lines – Contest

My rapier wit
Skewers the weak, the dim wits,
10 minutes too late…

I have a tremendous fantasy life. No, not the kind that involves D batteries and someone named Carlos… the kind where I use my superior intelligence to take apart those weaker than me with my quick wit and vast vocabulary. The problem is I am generally a nice person, and I find attacking people unpleasant, or, more often than not, the great line comes to me too late to be of any use.

So, today, let’s all post the “best lines we never used” as a way to build each others repertoire of great comebacks for future use.

I’ll get us started…

Look, let’s just assume I have a penis and that is it waaay smaller than yours. Can we move on then?  (To a difficult male colleague who believes I’m in competition with him)

Do you have any idea how little I care about your opinion? (To many, many people who have told me their opinion despite my obvious lack of interest in theirs.)

Yes, your father does love you more than I do.  (this one occurs to me in “real-time” – so tempting… and if you have kids and are appalled, then you have zero sense of humor)

Yeah, well, I’m really good in bed and you clearly aren’t. (a general line when I’ve clearly lost the argument but won’t admit it.)

I don’t have any more information on the topic than I did 5 minutes ago when you asked me the same question. (I actually used this once in a meeting; got a big laugh from the room, a small chuckle from the target… but I felt bad afterwards. This line, by the way, is borrowed from Sports Night – one of the best shows ever on TV.)

That’s all I have can think of; now it’s your turn. What are your best un-used comeback lines? Please share! I certainly need the help.

Sing to me Choir Joseph (yes, another crush…)

In song we know joy,
Worship half-notes, middle C;
Praise the crescendo.

I’m worried my dearest will think me on the prowl. First there was Bathrobe Man; then it was Running Boy. And now… Choir Joseph has captured my heart.

Alas, I know we have no future. I discovered him in Salt Lake City… some 1600 miles away. He is Mormon and I’m, well, not. But that didn’t keep me from watching him, imagining him, enjoying him, from a distance.

Where to begin…

First, let me start with this place: The Conference Center in Salt Lake City, part of the Mormon Church facilities.

The Conference Center in Salt Lake – side view

This building looks lovely and pristine on the outside, and leads one to believe it is an above average facility for public use or convention center action. Step inside, however, and you are greeted by the following…

Mormon Tabernacle Choir

It was breathtaking to walk into this building and see this. No matter what religion (or not), it was impressive and just a little overwhelming, in that good way. The organ stretching long and tall, the precision of the choir, the sheer size of a place that allows 21,000 to sit comfortably in a semi-circle.

And then the program began. It is a live broadcast – longest continuous live broadcast ever (this one was the last concert in their 84th season). No clapping, no cameras, just you and the music (and at times a silence I longed to break with a hearty woo hoo!).

It became me and Choir Joseph, just the two of us, shortly thereafter.

there he is… *sigh*

It’s a terrible picture, I know. My hands were shaking, my heart was racing. Let me explain why.

First and foremost, he is a renegade. Please note the immaculate lines in the choir. Ramrod straight is how I describe postures and arrangement. Except CJ. He’s on the end, leaning out a bit. He isn’t afraid to stand out among the picture perfect.

Notice how his hands are clasped firmly in front of his body. Look at the rest of the choir – arms at their sides. Rebel.  Purrrrrrr.

But what I loved most about Choir Joseph was how he sang. Unlike his predictable companions, who moved almost nothing but their mouths, CJ sang with his whole body. He swayed. He threw his head back in song. He didn’t need to look at the song book in his hands; he looked instead up, toward the back of the hall (perhaps towards me?), his voice climbing above the rest in praise.

Frankly, he looked a little like Stevie Wonder. Without the glasses. And he’s white. And his hair is shorter… but other than all that, an exact match. Moving to his own beat, bobbing his head, at one with the music and not afraid to let it all hang out.

Once again I find myself smitten by a man who dares to approach the world his own way.   I’m guessing his choir-mates voted him to an aisle seat because he kept bumping into them with his movement – perhaps he isn’t liked much because he dares to stand out.  Me? I love it. In a world of conformity, straight lines and perfect smiles, give me the oddball every time. Choir Joseph set my heart a flutter with short arms clasped across an ample waist; expressive body pouring out impressive song.

Do you think he is really-really Mormon, or just a little Mormon, given his penchant for the original? I wonder if I have a chance…

Mortified (more bathroom escapades)

My life’s up and downs,
I manage with ease; but one –
leaves me stunned, staggered.
I recently posted about my musings while in the bathroom. It isn’t as gruesome as you might imagine, rather a series of observations and questions that have come to me while attending to nature. Suffice it to say that I pay attention while in the bathroom.

So, let me relay a recent occurrence that I am still a little shaky about. There I was, in the last stall, when I felt the seat drop, significantly, even though I remained still. Shortly after that, I heard a flushing sound, not from the toilet next to me, but the one behind me… through the wall… in the men’s room that abuts the ladies. (!)

Oh my god… The shift downward of my toilet… no… it couldn’t be… it happened – please say it isn’t so –  when my through-the-wall comrade stood up, having completed his business.

Eww…. Our toilets were somehow linked through the wall. We were back to back — way too close for me. And our toilets made… a toilet teeter-totter.

Double ewww.  How shoddy is the construction at my work that I could feel him depart? How do they hang the toilets on the wall such that this is possible? Will I ever, ever be able to use that bathroom again? (See the other post; I’m running out of places I feel comfortable going…).

Later that night, I was telling Frank about this (when you’ve been married as long as us, you’ve pretty much run out of things to talk about, so you have to dig kinda deep). And then it hit me. The unthinkable. If I felt my seat drop when he got up, then… (I can’t even think it let alone type it)… then he must have pitched up a few inches when I plopped down, none too delicately, I’m sure.

One hundred times ewwwww. What must that other person have thought when moments from finishing up, he felt that upward movement of the seat? Did he realize what happened or was he in the home stretch such that he wasn’t paying attention?  Me, at the realization?  I doubled over in agony, in despair, in complete and total embarrassment. It didn’t matter that he was a stranger. I am forever changed, forever mortified.

Seriously, now I really can’t ever use that bathroom again. It’s going to be a long summer.

Funny Girl

How cool as a kid
To make your dad sincerely,
Genuinely, laugh.


I fancy myself funny at times. Not always, but many times I am able to get giggles from people.

Therefore, I take special pride in (and way too much credit for) the fact that my 9-year-old daughter, AP, is getting a good sense of humor.

Case in point. Tonight started our end-of-school-year search for the library books that never got returned. Each year about this time, we get a nasty-gram from the librarian about some book that everyone is sure was returned but for some reason wasn’t. AP complained that the book in question was lost because  “Dad threw it off the bed when he came to sleep with me the night I was scared”.

Frank, with some skepticism in his voice, said “When I threw it, did it enter another dimension?”

AP dead-panned: “Yes, yes it did.”

Later she went upstairs to make yet another pass at looking for the book. In my house when something is missing and the searcher does a pathetic job looking for the object and neither looks under or behind things, we call this ” ‘looking’ like a man”, a slam against most men who refuse to do more than peer helplessly about them in hopes the missing item will jump into their field of vision unaided.  I must admit that in my house, the women folk are worse about ” ‘looking’ like a man” than the men folk are, so keeping this in mind…   A few minutes later AP returned to the dinner table and declared she still couldn’t find the book.  Frank, again skeptically given her history of inept searches, said “You know what will happen when I go upstairs to look for the book, don’t you?” And AP, without missing a beat, said “Yes… it will magically appear from the other dimension.”

I couldn’t stop laughing.  That’s my girl.  Not only was her comedic timing perfect (which the retelling here really doesn’t do justice to), but it so beautifully explained all the other searchers where she came up short but Frank was successful. He has special access to another dimension giving him powers we women folk don’t have.

I must use this excuse myself…

Dear Diary… Can’t wait to tell you of my latest crush

My secrets revealed,
As the pen scratches across
The lined, smooth paper


Dear Diary,

I know it’s been a while since I wrote anything. Typical. But I had to tell you about this new man in my life. After Bathrobe Man, I wasn’t sure I was ever going to have a commute crush again (the word crush is so appropriate, right?!). But there is a new guy. I call him Running Boy.

Truth be told, I’ve known him a while. I guess about 9 months ago I spotted him — he was running, obviously… But he was so different from the others I had seen dolefully completing their morning routines.

Let me explain. He doesn’t look like a runner. The shorts to the knees seem amazingly confining, but he never seems to mind. The baseball cap — always red — is ever present. But there are three things about him that really caught my eye then and continue now.

His mustache — dark brown, thick, fully covering the lip-nose gap. I haven’t seen one that bountiful since Magnum PI. And no little go-tee attached to it – he is all about the stache and lets it stand on its own. I admire that about him. I wish he would remove the ball cap, because I’m convinced it is holding back a full head of thick, curly hair that even now I can imagine running my hands through.

Not to be outdone by his facial hair is his leg hair. He is a little on the pale side, so even at 40 mph, I can see the thick hair covering his legs. I miss hairy men. I’m not looking for Big Foot, but those Ambercrombie and Fitch teenagers models, with their smooth chests, do absolutely nothing for me. A real man needs hair on his chest, a little on his back… and some on the shoulders to add to the overall manliness of the landscape.  It takes a real woman to tame a man with ample body hair. Running boy… you can tell he is a real man.

Lastly, it’s his run. He runs like an 8 year old boy. High on his toes, he flies down the sidewalk, his heels never touching ground. No mamby-pamby jogging, he is running, full tilt, balls of his feet bearing the brunt. Honestly, the first time I saw him I was convinced he was running away from someone. I imagined he had stayed the night with his girlfriend — a married woman in her mid 40’s let’s just say — and had quickly darted out the backdoor for some unexplained reason and needed to return home quickly. That was the only way I could explain the overly long shorts and ball cap — and that unpracticed gait — the first time I set eyes on him. But when I saw him a few days later, and then kept seeing him time and time again… well I decided he was just a rebel, a man who wanted health no matter what the ridicule.

So, Diary, here I am — still pining some for Bathrobe Man — who by the way hasn’t had the guts to show his face again — but finding that the fog is lifting the more time I spend with Running Boy.  I’m not going to do anything about it just yet… perhaps start driving just a wee bit slower in case he might notice me. Or maybe I’ll find a reason to stop at the Pony Keg first thing in the morning before his journey takes him by there… just to see if I can catch his eye with a smile.  It’s worth a try…



Men, Magazines and Me

A sewage eating
rodent died in Frank’s colon
I have been trying for ages to find something to write about that would fit the above haiku. It is one of my all time favorites, obviously not for its artistic quality but for how I believe every person living with a grown man can identify with it and readily reflect back to their own version.

I know, it’s gross, but if you are here looking for high art, then I suggest the back button. (Note, my last posting was the anomaly, not this one…)

Anyway, my inspiration was cleaning. About once a month, usually with the waxing moon, I am possessed enough to clean and straighten the house to mother-in-law acceptability. This time, as I was working my way through one of the bathrooms (“… playdoh goes downstairs… coat hanger to the closet… legos to AB’s room… fork (fork!?! eww, who eats in here!?) to the kitchen…”) I came across our requisite stack of magazines. Well, HIS requisite stack of magazines. If there is a publication about something with wheels, he receives it at alarmingly quick intervals. And then he reads each one, cover to cover.

In 30 minute increments.

Twice a day.

In one of two bathrooms.

Yes, I have two bathrooms containing stacks of his magazines.

Now, I have no issue with his love of literature. I have no issue with the regular exercising of his internal organs. My issue is that said literature keeps expanding said exercise periods such that I’m not sure he does anything but poop between dropping off the kids in the morning and picking our son up before lunch. I also resent the number of trees killed between his magazine obsession and, well, his other paper filled endeavors.

It wouldn’t be so bad if it were just a few magazines. I mean, as a guest in someone’s house, it is always interesting to nose about in their bathroom reading material on your way to picking through the medicine cabinet, right? It gives great insight about your friends, and provides much gossip for the car ride home. But I’m a little self-conscious about what people must think when looking through ours… Here is what I imagine goes through their head.

1. Good grief, how much reading can one man do in the bathroom?

2. What’s the difference between Rod & Custom and Hot Rod Magazine? All the cars look the same.

3.  This is a book called “Building A Shed”. It has 218 pages. What in god’s name does he do in here?

4. Street Rodder? Car Craft? Really? I didn’t know that there were this many magazines about cars. See point 2… I’m confused. Wait, is that a hot chick on the cover… cool.

5. Fine Homebuilding Magazine. Never heard of it. “15 different ways to put in stair railings”. Man that sounds boring.  What’s in the medicine cabinet…

And then they emerge, a little shell-shocked, because the medicine cabinet only reaffirms their belief that we are a little weird  (6 different types of children medicines, most out of date, 3 tampons, 2 tile samples and bag of cough drops).

Oh well. I picked him nearly 20 years ago, so I guess I’m stuck with him (plus, as I’ve said before, I’m no picnic either).  I’ll just keep buying Febreeze and insisting that he purge the magazines every 2 months or so.

And to potential visitors, you have been forewarned. (Apologies in advance.)

The Joys and Perils of Fresh Market Soups

My desires denied,
so close, taste-able, right there
Evil packaging…


There is a cafeteria where I work. The food is pretty good and the people who serve it are quite nice, but it gets old after a while and at times seems a little pricey. That’s when I decide, in a fit of domestic frugality (in other words, usually the third week of the month, since I get paid monthly), to start bringing in my lunch. My favorite? Fresh Market Soups.

If you have never had any of their soups, you don’t know what you are missing. They are amazing. Thai Chicken Curry is currently in the microwave, happily cooling a little while I write this. The Turkey Chili is great. Lentil… oh my word, fab-u-lous. I could go on. The calorie count isn’t too bad either, and given they fill me up so nicely I’m not peck-ish at 3pm, I’m quite pleased all around.

Except for one thing. The packaging. The primary packaging isn’t too bad – just your normal plastic tub with a plastic lid. Easy enough. But inside that lid is the most insidious creation ever… the plastic seal.

Now, there is a little extra tab-y bit you can grab onto in order to peel back the lid. But it mocks me. When I try to use it, one of two things happens: it either does absolutely nothing – won’t budge, just remains super glued to the rim — or it does rip, but in a horrifically uneven way, usually just taking a thin strip out of the middle of the seal, leaving the bulk of itself (now covered with soup dross) behind.

So picture this: I’m at work in the little kitchen area where the microwave is. Wait, a kitchen usually has a sink, right? This does not. It has a microwave, a little fridge and some tables. Thus, imagine me with said bowl of the most mouth-wateringly good soup – let’s assume it is chili and I’m dressed head to toe in white – struggling to get the plastic sleeve off without ending up looking like I was standing next to a drive-by shooting victim. Impossible. Both hands end up drenched in soup as I have to go into “manual mode” in order to wrestle the plastic off. And since this kitchen is so well equipped, you can guess how many paper towels are around to assist me. I have finally gotten smart and now come with 6 or so just to manage the situation, and I’ve mapped the fastest way to the bathroom from the kitchen to minimize any collateral damage.

Anyway, the only other way to manage this is to take a sharp knife and run it around the edge, easily separating the evil cover from the sides. This is by far the most intelligent approach, which is precisely why I never, ever, remember to bring a knife with me to work.

So Fresh Market… I would be ever so appreciative if you would pass this issue on to your R&D organization and request some adjustments to either the sealing mechanism or the type of adhesive which makes actually getting into your yummy soup downright impossible. Or at least get them to stop hanging out with the guys who design toy packaging because their sadistic tendencies in package design and security are rubbing off.  Otherwise, please start packing the soups with a disposable apron.

A New Definition of Normal (Not for the Squeamish)

First the dog threw up…
on the kid…. and then the kid
threw up… on the dog.*


When work gets a little nutso, I tend to call my husband. His voice just seems to lower my blood pressure and remind me what really matters. Today was like that: I called him as I was heading to a meeting and told him “I just need a little normal”. He laughed, wondering how bad it must be if the happenings at our home seemed normal, but proceeded to tell me about his morning, AB’s morning, etc. And then he told me about our “normal” dog.

Seems Lily the wonder poodle went out to poop this morning, very normal indeed, but then she pooped two or three more times while in the yard. That’s not normal. When she finally came back in, Frank noticed that she still had poop hanging out of her bottom. Again, not at all normal; in fact, a little alarming since this has happened a few times in the last few days.  Then he shared the best part of all: as he was pulling the poop off her bottom, he pulled a paper towel out of her ass.

Half sheet.

Totally intact.

And after he did this, he proceeded to pull a second half sheet paper towel out of her ass. It appears that just like a canister of wet wipes, when you remove one, the next one pops up, waiting to be extracted.

Oh my god. I don’t think normal will ever be the same again.

We then had a great time with the puns. It is no longer “select a sheet” but “select a shit”.  Plus, the new selling line is the “quicker pooper-upper”. This went on for several minutes and I encourage you to add your own thoughts in the comments section.  He then threatened to rinse them out and lie them side by side with other slightly used paper towels to see if I could tell the difference. The call ended soon thereafter.

(For those of you wondering why I feed my dog paper towels… we caught her red-handed on Sunday licking the “breakfast-bacon-draining-paper-towels” which she had fished out of the garbage; had no clue she had already scarfed down two.)

Anyway, before I ended the call, I proclaimed my continuing appreciation for my husband and his willingness to deal with these types of situations. (I would have collapsed immediately upon noticing the fluffy end sticking out; he doesn’t rattle near as easily.) I returned to spread sheets and conference calls, but kept reflecting on the visual image of him, with the kids mesmerized by his side,  pulling out the paper towels like a magician fishing scarves from inside his clenched fist. I’m sure people wondered why I kept smiling.

(Note: Thanks to Frank for the wet wipes and magician metaphors! Stolen with his full knowledge.)

(*by the way, only the first 8 syllables are truth; the rest is just funny to visualize)

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