They’re Coming to Take Me Away

Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

I have to write this quick because I think they’re coming for me.

I’ll explain. See, I wrote a post for Blogger Idol his week, and the assignment was that we were supposed to reveal a secret. And since I have no secrets (come on, I’m a blogger for crap’s sake… it’s all out there, ya know?) I wrote a silly expose about myself and other mom bloggers. About how we are secretly more together than we portray ourselves to be, and how we tend to play up our ineptitude for laughs. Funny, right?

Except the judges didn’t get it. They thought it was funny, but didn’t see how it fit the criteria of the assignment. I think they were hoping that I’d reveal that I’m secretly a man, or sit around huffing Sharpie marker fumes when my kids are at school. Sorry, nothing to see here folks. Move along. And the most illicit thing I do when my kids are at school is watch The Chew. Anyway I’m pretty sure the judges are on their way to my house en masse to break my kneecaps or worse.

Sshhhh… did you hear something? Oh, okay, it was just the wind. Phew.

So here’s the thing. Given that I’m very very certain to have a judges score this week probably in the negatives if that’s even possible, simply for the crime of having no drama in my life, I’m going to need your help. The only thing that will save me is a decent number of votes. Seriously it only takes one minute. Click on this here fancy link, scroll down to the shaded voting box, check Notes from the Shallow End, and click “vote”.  I just… wait… what was that? Seriously. Outside. In the bushes. It was like a rustling. Ah. Never mind, just a bird.

It’s no secret that, as a smaller blogger, it’s harder to generate votes. I’ve been an underdog since day one in this competition. (And can I just say that without the help of my AOPi sisters, I wouldn’t have gotten through to this point. Thank you ladies. Mwah!)   But I want to be the one to show the world that you don’t have to be a mega-blogger to be considered successful. Can you imagine if a blog like mine, not even a year and a half old, could go the distance? Please vote for me. Or else the terrorists have won.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, someone’s at the door. (Whaaaa? Torches?! Aaaggghhhh! THUMP! KA-POW! OmmyGodsomebodyhelpmeeeee! (Sound of corpse being dragged)

Notes from the Shallow End


The Day I Won the Award for Most Patient Wife Ever

Notes from the Shallow End

It’s an immutable law of marriage: The amount of time you have left before an important event is inversely proportional to the likelihood that your husband will choose to perform a completely unrelated task.  Like choosing to vacuum the car when you’re supposed to leave for a parent-teacher conference. Or cleaning out the basement just before your entire extended family arrives for dinner.  Meanwhile you’re running around trying to do the things that actually matter, like preparing food and making sure all of your children have pants on. Hypothetically, of course.  I’m sure your children always wear pants.

One recent cold and rainy weekend,   I had the kids loaded into the car to leave for a morning soccer game. (We have hit the age where games aren’t necessarily cancelled due to rain. Good times.) In typical fashion, we had, oh, approximately five minutes to get to the field. I put up the garage door, started the engine, put the car in reverse, and started to back out of the garage… when suddenly my husband came running out of the house clutching a bag and waving at me frantically. I rolled the window down to see what the big emergency was.

“I just want to put your new windshield wipers on,” VP said, stepping to the front windshield and prying up one of the wiper bars.

In an act uncharacteristic of me, instead of shouting, “Are you kidding me? Now?!” I chose patience. I put the car in park, engine still running, and clamped my mouth shut while he went to work.

I waited patiently until he removed the old wipers.

I waited patiently while he tried to put the new ones on.

I waited patiently as he couldn’t figure out how to put the new ones on.  And I waited some more. The time for us to be at the field came and went.

Finally, he gave up in frustration, and started trying to put the old ones back on. After a while, he gave the thumbs up and I backed out of the garage. As we drove down the street, though, the sound the windshield wipers made told me something was amiss.

Screeeetch thwack.  Screeeeetch thwack. Screeeeetch thwack. The rain wasn’t terribly hard, but just enough that I had to keep the wipers going.

We screetch thwacked our way to the soccer field. I parked the car. Unloaded the kids. Started to walk toward the field, and promptly encountered a wet referee walking the other way.

“Game’s cancelled,” she said. “Field conditions just got too bad.”

We turned and walked back to the car, as it started to rain harder. Relieved that the game was cancelled, I loaded the kids back in. Started the car. Turned on the windshield wipers as the rain turned to a downpour. Screeeetch thwack. Screeetch thwack. Screee…BANG! And then I watched one of my windshield wipers skitter across the parking lot.

As I climbed out of the car in driving rain to retrieve it, I cursed under my breath. Also I may or may not have called VP a few choice names.

Knowing there was no way I could drive home without windshield wipers, I struggled reattach the errant blade. Rain dripped off of my baseball cap as I tried it one way, then another. You’d think it would be simple, intuitive maybe, but it’s not.  Imagine being throw out in the freezing rain with one of those metal tavern puzzles, and being told you couldn’t come back in until it was finished. My fingers went numb from cold. Peeved, I considered calling my husband to drive over and help me, but what kind of an example would that have set for the children? No. Rain be damned, I would prove I was capable.

It took twenty minutes, but I finally out the right angle and the blade clicked perfectly into pace. I flung my arms into the air in triumph.   The Rocky theme echoed through my head as I jogged around to the driver’s side to climb in and drive home.

When I got there VP asked what took us so long to get home. “The windshield wiper fell off, and I had to fix it,” I said cheerfully, still kind of proud that I figured it out.  I needed the reminder that I can handle things on my own, for the next time we’re expecting people for dinner any minute and he decides to reorganize the workbench. Ahem. Hypothetically of course.

And as for fixing the windshield wipers, it turns out that all of those years of wrestling my kids into pants has paid off.


Mostly Dead All Day: A Tale of the World’s Worst Phone

Notes from the Shallow End

It was a quiet day. Nothing out of the ordinary was happening. I was doing some writing; the dog was licking his own nether regions. You know, the usual.

First, let me say I am always near a phone. I have three kids, and one of my fears is that something will happen to one of them at school, and the school won’t be able to reach me. I’m usually at home during the day, and if I’m out, I have my cell phone with me. Otherwise it’s turned off to save the battery.

But then, somehow my plan went to pieces. My kid got hurt and the school couldn’t reach me.

We have been having problems with the downstairs cordless phone, in that it won’t hold a charge for more than about a minute.  Conversations on it often go like this:

Person: Hello?

Me: Hi, it’s Lisa. I was just calling about the… hello? Hello? Aaaaaggh! Stupid phone!

So most of the time, the phone is nearly dead.  We’re talking gather the relatives, because it’s on life support. And sometimes it’s completely dead.  That means a mad dash up the stairs to grab the second floor handset phone every time it rings. Because it only rings four times before it goes to voice mail. (All of these years and I’ve never been able to figure out to change that. Time Warner, I’m looking at you!)) So I was typing away downstairs, enjoying a delicious second cup of coffee, when the phone rang. By the time I got upstairs, I had missed the call.

“Oh well,” I thought. “If it’s important they’ll leave a voice mail.” And I returned to my hot coffee downstairs. Priorities, right?

But when the phone rang again five minutes later, something told me I should move faster to answer it. I sprinted up the stairs two at a time and grabbed it on the last ring. And Thank God I did. It was my husband, calling to tell me that the school had just called him. It seems my son had fallen, cut his head open on a metal coat hook, and was bleeding profusely. They thought he needed stitches.  My husband, I should mention, was out of town on business.

So my husband, who was in Orlando, had to call me in Ohio to tell me to go to school and pick up my son. And I should mention that the only reason the school was able to reach him is that his morning meeting had been pushed back, otherwise his phone would have been turned off.

The good news is that my son is fine. He got to have a Popsicle in the school office, and when I brought him home and washed the blood off (head wounds… gaaahhhh!) it didn’t look as bad as we thought. He got to spend the rest of the day wearing his jammies and robe, snuggled with me on the couch.

So, phone? You’ve been unreliable for way too long. I hate to tell you this, but you’re fired. Pack up your things and security will escort you out. I’ll be shopping for your  replacement this weekend, because the school couldn’t reach me in an emergency and that is a feeling I never, ever want to have again.


Local Woman Damages Mall, Pelts Police with Pumpkin

The Blogger Idol challenge this week was to write a newspaper article about a fictitious crime we have committed. Despite my law-abiding nature (seriously, just thinking about getting arrested for something gives me hives) I took the opportunity to go deep, and find my inner criminal. Turns out I actually might have one after all! Note to the person at the Dunkin Donuts drive through: For the record, I DO NOT want a pumpkin flavored iced coffee.  Stop trying to make pumpkin iced coffee happen.


Cincinnati – A Cincinnati woman lead police on a high speed chase yesterday and caused extensive damage to several local businesses in a bizarre case of what police are calling “Pumpkin Rage.”

Lisa Packer, age 44, of West Chester, was arrested and charged with  aggravated fleeing, eluding, assault, destruction of property and un-American activity after going on a violent, destructive rampage on Wednesday night, apparently triggered by her hatred and mistrust of all things pumpkin.

Butler County Sheriffs deputies say the trouble started when, after becoming increasingly angry about seeing “pumpkin everything” in every store she went to, Ms. Packer apparently snapped upon arriving at a Starbucks and seeing seasonal pumpkin-spiced lattes on the menu. Witnesses say she started yelling that pumpkin is a “vile, disgusting fraud” before she leapt across the counter, knocked over some equipment, and used copious amounts of spit to wash the phrase “Pumpkin Spiced Latte” off the board. Several baristas attempted to apprehend her, but they were all too weak and flaccid.

“I… I tried to stop her, but my ironic glasses got all fogged up from the latte machine she kicked over,” said one traumatized barista, who wished only to be identified as Paul.

An eyewitness who preferred to remain anonymous said Ms. Packer then scooped up armfuls of baked goods and ran from the store before driving away. With police close behind, she began speeding down I-75 while flinging muffins out the window at pursuing law enforcement.

Notes from the Shallow End

Some of the innocent victims of the slaughter.

Interviewed at the scene, where the remnants of the walnut-studded carnage was still evident, one of the officers whose vehicle was struck said he feels lucky to be alive. “You can’t understand what it’s like to be targeted by projectile muffins until it happens to you,” reported Deputy Alan Kipps. He wiped his eyes and continued, “Nothing at the police academy could have prepared me for this. Nothing.”

Notes from the Shallow End

Local law enforcement was able to capture this photo of the perpetrator in the getaway vehicle.

Local law enforcement deployed stop-sticks to disable her wildly careening minivan, but Ms. Packer was able to escape on foot. After stealing an excavator from a construction site and driving it to a nearby mall, witnesses watched in horror as she used the claw to demolish an entire Yankee Candle store.  She was overheard shouting, “I’m tired of pumpkins getting all the credit! It’s a squash, dammit! Who wants a candle that smells like squash? Die, mother  f*^#ers!“  She then turned her attention to a Bath & Body Works, where thousands of dollars’ worth of pumpkin body butter, pumpkin shampoo, and pumpkin perfume fell victim to her wrath.

Twelve year old Brittany Shaunessy, shopping at the mall with her mother Eileen, was witness to the atrocities. “She was yelling something about pumpkin body lotion not even making any sense,” said Brittany. “Does it make sense? I’m so confused.”

Ms. Packer was eventually apprehended and taken into custody when the excavator got stuck in the doorway of Williams-Sonoma.

Notes from the Shallow End

When reached at home, family members declined comment. Neighbors, however say that this was a long time coming. Ms. Packer was known for angry diatribes against all things pumpkin flavored, and often professed a deep resentment that her favorites, apple and cranberry, weren’t given the special treatment enjoyed by the undeserving  squash cultivar. “Every year around this time she’d go a little nuts,” a neighbor said. “She just didn’t get how a vegetable that needed that many spices to be palatable got all that attention. And I guess it just built up until she blew.”

Calling Ms. Packer “deviant” “unpatriotic”, and “anti-squashite”, the Pumpkin Farmers of America quickly derided her actions. “Subversive behavior such as this simply cannot be tolerated, or the very foundation of this country is at stake,” said a spokesperson. The North American Nutmeg Foundation, however, was quick to counter. “Pumpkin has been stealing our thunder for way too long. Isn’t it time the real heroes, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger, be given their due?”

“She just really hated pumpkin. I’ve never seen anything like it before.” Said one sheriff’s department official. Choking back tears, he continued. “It’s the muffins who were the real victims here Let us never forget that.”

Interview with My Kids

Sadly, the bear's suggestion that the dancer take her shirt off, whip it around her head, and yell "Whoooo hooo!" was ignored by the director.

Sadly, the bear’s suggestion that the dancer take her shirt off, whip it around her head, and yell “Whoooo hooo!” was ignored by the director.


Okay, business first. It’s Blogger Idol voting time again. The assignment this week was to “write an article about a fictional crime you’ve committed”.  Let’s just say I went to town on a seasonal favorite. And possibly offended an entire segment of the agricultural population. Who knew I had such a dark heart?

The voting is now live, folks. Click here to get to the Blogger Idol page, read my submission, and cast your vote. I’m going to need your help to remain in the contest for another week, because your votes count heavily toward the overall score. If I don’t get enough votes, a trap door will pop open and I’ll slide down the chute to the incinerator just like Veruca Salt.  Do you really want to be responsible for depriving the contest, and the world, of my witticism and mirth? (surreptitiously checks the definition of “mirth”. Um, close enough.) I’ll wait here while you go vote. Take your time.

Okay, did you vote yet? Don’t worry, if you want to read this post first, I understand. I’ll helpfully provide the link again toward the end. I’m a giver.

Now, on to today’s post. Some of you may remember the job interview that I did with my son last year, which took some strange twists and turns. Don’t trust him with the good silver, is all I’m saying. And now, taking my inspiration from bloggers extraordinaire Jenn over at Something Clever , Meredith at From Meredith to Mommy, and Tracy at Crazy as Normal, I’m interviewing my kids about me. I kind of took the Vanity Fair “Proust Questionnaire” and turned it on its ear. The answers were… well, just read for yourself.

What is my idea of perfect happiness?

Lucy, age 12: Um, probably like, a quiet room where there’s a big bed where you can nap forever.

The Boy, age 6: Me cleaning the whole house? (Based on my job interview post of last year? Not likely to happen.)

Magpie, age 9: Italian dinners. Clean rooms. Everyone not ignoring you when you say, “Clean your room”. And Flowers. And Sleeping.

What is my greatest fear?

Magpie: Spiders? Oh, and stepping in gooshy things.

The Boy: Being attacked by ninjas.

What living person do I most admire? 

Lucy: Me. (The child obviously has no self-esteem issues.)

Question: What is my greatest extravagance?

Kids: ….

What do I spend too much money on? 

Magpie:  Organic things! Fancy perfumes! Plates! (Okay, now you’re just swinging at anything.)

Lucy: Stuff at Whole Foods. (Guilty.)

The Boy: Makeup!

VP: Yes! She spends too much money on makeup! (Note to my husband: Hush. You’re not the one being interviewed, INTERVIEW STEALER!)

What trait do I most deplore in others?

The Boy: I don’t know what that means.

It means name something that other people do that I don’t like.

Lucy: Rudeness.

The Boy: You don’t like it when people take off their shirts and whip them around their head and yell “Whooooo hooo!”

Um, okay. What talent would I most like to have?

Magpie: Spinning plates on your fingers!

Lucy: Singing!

The Boy: Taking your shirt off and whipping it around your head and yelling, “Whooooo hoooo!” (Anyone sensing a theme here, or at least a frat boy in the making?)

Which words or phrases do I most overuse?

Lucy: Bad words.

Magpie: H-E double hockey sticks.

The Boy: Dog Nammit!

Okay, okay, forget that one. What is my most treasured possession?

Magpie: Me!

The Boy: Me.

Lucy: Me. No, your laptop! (Um, the first answer makes me look better, so we’re going with that one.)

What do I consider my greatest achievement?

The Boy: Growing tomatoes!

Lucy: Having children.

E. (family friend): I know, I know! Making  it into that contest thing or whatever it is.


Which brings us neatly back around to where we started. I totally didn’t fudge the order of the interview questions to make that happen, either. (Okay, I did. It’s all about flow, people.) If you haven’t already, please take a second to vote for me for Blogger Idol. Because spinning plates on my fingers is not a career option for me, as far as I know.










Oops! I Accidentally Got Us Kicked Out of School: Part II

Oops! I Accidentally Got Us Kicked Out of School: Part II

“In the final stages of their evil plan to break her spirit, she was forced to wear a cardboard Christmas tree. Note the dead eyes and glazed expression.”


Don’t forget to vote for Notes from the Shallow End on Blogger Idol! Voting is live from 12:00 pm CST October 23 to 11:59 pm October 24. 

In case you’re wondering how my first day as the new kid went, here’s a hint. It was probably The Worst First Day of School Ever. There was humiliation.  There was danger. Then some more humiliation.

In short? Not exactly a dream scenario for a timid child.

My new teacher (who, to my eyes was so old she was practically mummified) gave the class a spelling test. Even though it was my first day, and I hadn’t yet studied the words, she had me take the test too. To gauge my level of knowledge? To humiliate me? I suspect the latter.

Well, I took the test. Imagine my horror when she called me up to the front of the class shortly afterward and said the following:

“Now, class. This is our new student Lisa.” (Cue looks of expectant curiosity from the class) “And I just want everyone to know that out of the entire class, Lisa was the only one to get a 100% on the spelling test.” (Cue looks of sheer burning hatred from the class). “You all should be ashamed of yourselves for not doing better!”  And then she turned to me, smiled with satisfaction, and sent me back to my seat, where I was now persona non grata. As if I had any farther to fall.

But wait… this was wrong! Teachers were supposed to be like Miss Beadle on Little House on the Prairie! They were supposed to be warm and full of hard-earned Prairie Wisdom! They weren’t supposed to drag you up to the front of class and slap a bull’s eye on you.   Even at that age, I knew I was in trouble.

At some point, one girl in particular decided to exact her revenge on me for daring to show up the class on my first day.  When it was time for music class, we trooped down to the underbelly of the school single file.  As we traversed a long hallway,  a girl I’ll call “Karen”, whose pink puffy overalls  belied her obvious future in a juvenile detention facility , turned to me and pointed to  another hallway off of the one we were in.

“Oh, new kids don’t go to music class,” she said sweetly. “They just go outside and play on the playground until class is over. You go that way.” And then she gave me a shove to point me up the hallway and out the door.

Figuring she must know what she was talking about (even I want to go back and slap myself for stupidity) I exited the double doors to find… a completely empty playground. Sensing something wasn’t right (Um, ya think?) I tried to open the doors to get back in, but they were locked.

Realizing my predicament, I did the sensible thing. I sat down on a bench and cried.

I don’t know how long I was out there before some teacher found me and brought me, all snotty and puffy-eyed, to music class. I remember walking in and locking eyes with Karen, who smirked at me and went back to singing Michael Row Your Boat Ashore.

Oh, but my humiliation wasn’t complete yet. Because the last class of the day? Was gym class. Kickball.  We didn’t play it at my old school. I’d never played kickball in my life, as a matter of fact.  Nor any organized sport whatsoever, unlike my new classmates who were all already entrenched in soccer leagues.

No one asked me if I knew how to play; I guess they just assumed I did. I didn’t get that whole running of the bases thing.  So I kicked the ball, and I understood that I was supposed to run to first, but that was where my knowledge ended. What I didn’t understand was that I was also supposed to run when the next person kicked the ball. And so this kid I’ll call “Mark” kicked the ball and came flying toward first base, where I was still standing like a dumbass. He must have been looking the other way, because POW!  He smacked into me full force like an eight year old Lawrence Taylor, knocking me flat. Result? A bloody nose, bloody lip, and a knot on my head.

As I was escorted, sobbing, to the nurse, I couldn’t help wondering what the hell kind of place my parents had dropped me into. It was like being dropped off in Dodge City with a deck of Old Maid cards and a squirt gun.

And that, friends, was just my first day.

I made it through that month, somehow, and entered third grade in the fall with a teacher who asked me if my family was “poor”, and made us sing show tunes at indoor recess. So, no, it didn’t get much better.

But for the rest of my school career, I continued to kick everyone’s ass in spelling. Because it was really the only weapon I had.

If you liked this, please vote for Notes from the Shallow End on Blogger Idol! Voting is live from 12:00 pm CST October 23 to 11:59 pm October 24.

Notes from the Shallow End


Why Root Beer Floats and Costco Don’t Mix: A Cautionary Tale


Why Root Beer Floats and Costco Don't Mix: A Cautionary Tale


This is a tale of two trips to Costco in one day. They were, as you’ll see, radically different.

A good friend called me early one day last week asking if I could take her to Costco on my membership. They were thinking about getting a membership, but hadn’t decided yet. She needed some bulk items for a school function, so I happily obliged. Helping a friend out, plus a morning out sans kiddos? Win/win.

I never get to shop with girlfriends any more, especially during the day, so getting to peruse the aisles unencumbered by children was a special treat. Yes, it was Costco, but  as far as I was concerned it might as well have been Bergdorf’s.  We strolled the aisles at leisure, tried some of  the food samples hawked by friendly and enthusiastic vendors (Oooh! Dark chocolate covered acai berries? Don’t mind if I do!) , pawed through cotton cardigans, tennis skirts, and yoga pants, and did some impulse buying in addition to what was “on the list”. We encouraged each other.  “You should buy that. You deserve it!”

All in all, it was a fun, relaxing morning, and I was glad to be able to help out a friend and have some girl time, even if it was just to Costco. Hey, you take what you can get, right? (Okay, fine. I have no life. Help me.)

When I skipped in the door, as delighted as if I had been at the spa, for goodness sake, I told VP where I had been. He immediately said, “So, did you get the snacks for the game tomorrow?”


Seems we were on the schedule to be snack parents for the next morning’s soccer game, and I had forgotten.

I quickly perused the pantry. Surmising that handfuls of rotini pasta and Dixie cups of tap water wouldn’t be kid-pleasers, I came to the sinking realization I’d have to go back. Yup. Costco twice in one day.

And since I had promised my kids that I’d take them for root beer floats after school, and the root beer stand is close to Costco, guess what? You got it. All of the kids were coming with me.

Hahaha! After they’d all had buckets of soda and ice cream! Hahahahaha! Ha.  Blerrgghh.

The trip started off like this:

“Yaaaay! Costco! We get to go to Costco!” Bounce bounce bounce. (As an experienced parent, I should have seen through their enthusiasm, and been able to spot the pure sugar rush. Because, hindsight.)

And then it turned into this:

“Let’s push each other in the carts!”

“Let’s race each other in the carts!”

“Can I ride under the cart?”

“Look Mom!” (Holds up industrial size box of Chee-Zee Bacon -n-Biskit Taco Nuggets) “Can we please buy this? Please please please?”

“Oooh! What’s that?” They raced from one food sample to the next, stuffing microwaved, bite-sized preservative bombs into their pie-holes.

It’s no wonder they didn’t want to eat dinner later. The amount of processed crap they ingested could feed a developing nation for months.

All in all, it was akin to shopping with monkeys. But we weren’t finished yet. Oh no.

We finally paid, and headed for the exit where the guy pretends to check each item in the cart against the receipt.  Three “mmmm-hmm”s and a smiley face drawn out of highlighter later, we headed for the parking lot, with me shouting my usual warning to my son about not running into the parking lot by himself.

I didn’t need to bother though, because his attention had been diverted by the pole he decided to climb on the way out. At the top of which he got the toe of his shoe wedged in a crack in the wall. So he slid back down the pole, but with one leg on the ledge below him and the other leg pointing upwards, rendering him stuck in a very impressive splits position. I quickly made a note to call Cirque De Soleil and ask if they’re taking on junior members.

Alas, this impressive feat also put him in the death defying (or just icky) position of being precariously suspended over a garbage can. (Wait! Forget Cirque De Soleil, call David Blaine!) So before his shoe came unstuck and he fell bottom first into other people’s refuse, I plucked him from the pole and carried him to safety. (Insert  ”keeping my kid off the pole” jokes here).

I quickly loaded everyone in the car and drove home, relieved that no one had knocked down a display of Authentik Hawaiian Style Chikin  Niblets, or cracked their head open, or fallen into a garbage can.

Something tells me they don’t have this problem at Bergdorf’s.



Maybe Ethan Hawke Got Eaten By the Snake? The Night the Cast of Dead Poets Society Ended Up In My Apartment


DPS Graphic

I had a completely random celebrity encounter, and it’s a cool story.

Except for the part where I managed to give the completely wrong impression. You only get one chance to make a first impression, right?  And sometimes you blow it because you’re holding a snake at exactly the wrong time. Just me? Okay then. Allow me to explain.

Let me get this out of the way right now. There is no Ethan Hawke in this story. Don’t read on, thinking he’s going to show up at the last minute. Or pop out of a closet. Or swoop in with a snarky Gen-X-ish comment.  These were the Reality Bites years, so I’m sure he was off somewhere, you know, not bathing. I mean, come on Ethan – would a bar of Irish Spring and a stick of Right Guard have hurt? And maybe the occasional shave? Well?

The summer after college, I was living and working in Nantucket. It was a hazy, “anything goes”, let’s-go-to-the-beach- at-midnight kind of summer, the last summer to run wild before joining the real world. Oh, the stories I could tell… but I won’t, because my kids read this blog. (Note to my kids: I spent the summer delivering Meals on Wheels to elderly shut-ins, sewing blankets for Ugandan orphans, and attending daily church services. Now, don’t you have homework to do?)

I had a bunch of roommates. One roommate had a boyfriend, who happened to have a pet snake. The pet snake lived at our place. No, I hadn’t foreseen a reptilian roommate, but made my peace with it. It was a young snake, not even full grown, and, sort of okay. I even eventually got up the courage to hold him. Which brings us to the fateful night.

What you need to know: Nantucket is relatively small, but tends to draw celebrities, so you’re likely to encounter a famous face or two while getting a sandwich, or just grabbing a newspaper. Not that big a deal, usually. But one night, something I couldn’t have imagined happened. And it happened right in my apartment.

This particular night I got home from a party, um, I mean church. I got home from church, and I took the snake out of his… what? Terrarium? Tank? Whatever the glass thingy is that pet snakes live in. And I was holding him when door banged open and one of my roommates tumbled in. She was trailed by a bunch of guys.  She had met them at another party, thought they were fun (and cute!) and dragged them home with her.  As you do.

I noticed the guy that sat down at the table looked familiar. He had medium length brown-ish hair, was adorable, and said his name was Bobby. He was the only one that introduced himself by name, but otherwise he was pretty quiet. Really good looking, but quiet. As I chatted with the others, I kept glancing over at him, sure I knew him from somewhere. But I’d met a lot of people that summer, so I didn’t think too much of it. It was the tall guy I was talking with that had really captured my attention.

So these random guys were in my apartment, and some of them were like, “Um, is that a snake?” Because apparently that’s not a normal thing to encounter in Nantucket. Lilly Pulitzer dresses, yes. Snakes, not so much. They seemed… a bit caught off guard, to be standing there conversing with me holding a snake. Eventually, we said our goodbyes, and they left with my roommate to go somewhere else.

Much later in the evening, my roommate ran in the door breathless. Here was the conversation as I remember it:

Her: So, did those guys look familiar?

Me: Um, kind of, I guess. Why?”

Her: Well, I was talking to them when we got to the party, and they said they live in New York, and they’re actors. So I asked them if they’d been in anything I’ve heard of, and the one guy said… ommygod I can’t believe this… Dead Poets’ Society! We were hanging out with the guys from Dead Poets’ Society and we didn’t even know it! That’s like my favorite movie of all time!” She gushed.

And suddenly it hit me why the guy at the table looked familiar. It was Robert Sean Leonard, the guy who played Neil. (If you haven’t seen the movie, spoiler alert: Worst ending ever for Poor Neil).

That’s right. Unbeknownst to me, I had just had the cast of Dead Poet’s Society in my living room.  Minus Ethan Hawke of course, because he was off traipsing through Vienna with Julie Delpy or some other smelly nonsense.  What kind of an idiot doesn’t recognize the cast of Dead Poets’ Society when they’re right under her nose? This idiot. Gaah. My score for powers of observation? Zilch.

She continued to burble about the rest of the guys that had been in my living room not an hour before. All of the main characters, save Ethan Hawke, and Robin Williams of course, were on the island, just hanging out. I do know, based on my roommate’s apparently frantic questioning when she found out who they were, that Knox Overstreet/Josh Charles  (how adorable was he?) was on the island too,  but not out with them that night, and was instead back at the house with his then girlfriend.  My roommate was crushed to find out he was taken. “But I looooove him!” she wailed.

And then she dropped the bomb. Apparently, the entire group of guys had referred to me as “Snake Girl” for the rest of the night.


Also, once she found out who they were, she started trying to engineer a way to hang out with them again.

“Oh, and I told Jamie you thought he was cute, and that you really liked him.”

Jamie being the tall guy with dark hair that I had been talking to. (He played Gerard Pitts in the movie.)

Here I should point out that I had never told her anything of the kind. However, my interest was piqued. Tall guy with dark hair? 100% my type. I was 22. I was… twitterpated. Hells yeah, I thought he was cute.

“I can’t believe you said that! You’re such a liar! So, um, what did he say?”

“He goes, ‘Really? The girl with the snake?  So, do you think she’d go out with me if I asked her?’ And I told him you definitely would, so he’s gonna call you.”

Things had just gotten interesting. I could definitely get on board with a date with a cute guy.  But, disappointingly, he never called.  Instead, a few weeks later, when my family was visiting, I came back to the apartment one day and my sister told me, “Some guy stopped by asking for you.”

“Who was it?”

She shrugged. “I didn’t ask his name. I just told him you weren’t here”.

“What did he look like?”

“Tall guy, dark hair.”

Yep. That was him. Damn.

I left the island a week later, and never saw him again.  So, yeah, I completely missed my chance to go on a date with one of the guys from Dead Poet’s Society. And I managed to give the cast of one most iconic movies of my generation the impression that I was some sort of dangerous, bizarre, reptile loving chick, which is so not who I am. Guys, if you’re reading this, and I know you’re not, I don’t even like snakes! It was a moment of weakness! The Nantucket fog had muddled my brain!

But hey, at least my reputation’s still safe with Ethan Hawke, right?

Dead Poets Society

The Day My Wedding Dress Tried to Kill Me

Wedding Dress


Do you still have your wedding dress? I do.

I never got it together to have it professionally packed and hermetically sealed or whatever it is you are supposed to do with a wedding dress. So, yeah, 14 years later my wedding dress is in one of the bedroom closets. It’s in a hanging bag, which, while a halfhearted effort at preservation, is still an effort. I consider the fact that it’s not stuffed in a hefty bag with some old towels and stashed in the basement a win.

My daughters came across it not long ago and wanted to try it on. I of course obliged. Their small frames were enveloped in the satiny folds, as I pinched the back together helped them each to the mirror to look at themselves.

And then, excitement shone in their eyes as they cried, “Mommy! You try it on!”

Well. Okay. I could do this. After all, how much could my body have changed after three kids? (I’ll pause while you finish laughing.  Um, okay, you can stop now.)  I went into my room and closed the door, so I could make a grand “Ta-Da!” entrance. Stepping into the dress, I pulled it up and put the straps over my shoulders. “So far so good”, I thought. “And it still fits in the waist! Yay me!” I said to myself smugly.

And then I reached behind be to pull up the zipper, I got it halfway up and… it stopped.

“Hmmm. It must be jammed,” I thought.  I pulled the zipper back down and started over again.  Again, I got it halfway up, and it stuck.

It was then I realized that the dress was pulling so tight across my ribcage, and the zipper was gapping so much in the back, that there was no way I was going to get  it zipped up.

Had my ribcage expanded? Is this a thing that happens from carrying children? I’m about the same weight I was before I had kids, but just shaped… differently.  More like a russet potato. After a couple more fruitless attempts, I realized I wasn’t going to get that zipper to pull up no matter what I tried. But, since denial is my specialty, I had another bright idea.

What if I zipped up the zipper all the way, and then pulled the wedding dress over my head? Ah ha! Surely I could just slip into it, pull it down, and voila! It would be a little tight, but I could certainly handle that for a few minutes.  Yes. That was the way to go.

After zipping it all the way up I lifted the heavy garment over my head, and went in headfirst. Layers and layers of fabric cascaded around me as I wiggled my way upward, upward. I stretched my arms toward the armholes. Stretch, reach, wiggle.  Almost there.

And then I wasn’t.

The downward progression of my wedding dress had come to an unfortunate halt.

And I was now firmly stuck in it, my head somewhere below the bodice, with my arms pinned straight upwards.

“Um,” I thought. “This… this is a problem.”

I jumped up and down, hoping the momentum would help the dress move downward. No such luck. I was stuck tighter than ever.

Without the use of my arms, which were still pinned upwards, I couldn’t pull the dress the other direction and go back the way I’d come in. I also couldn’t reach the zipper to free myself.

I started to pant inside the heavy lace fabric I was now wedged into, partly because it was becoming warm, but mostly out of rising panic.   Did I mention I’m claustrophobic?  Fun times.

“Eeerrrggghh! Mmmmmppphhh! Aaaaaggggh!” Hop hop hop. ”Oooooooof!” Arms in the air, I performed moves reminiscent of the inflatable dancing stick man outside of the local muffler shop.

I panted. I sweated, my face mashed against the lining. I pictured my kids bursting into the room to find my lifeless body on the floor, stuck half in and half out of a wedding dress, and clad only in Target brand underpants.

My husband would be widowed. My children would be motherless. “What happened to your mom?” They would be asked. “Oh, it’s a really sad story,” they would reply. “She smothered to death trying to prove she was the same size she was when she was married.” My demise would forever be a moral to a sad tale of vanity gone wrong.

No. I would not allow my children to find me this way. “YOU WILL NOT WIN, YOU HEAR ME?” I shouted, er, gasped, because I’m positive I was dangerously low on oxygen. In mere seconds, I would have been walking toward the light in that damn stupid wedding dress.  In a burst of strength and adrenaline, and possibly a split seam or two, I managed to angle one arm just enough to grab the fabric and pull myself free.

Once I recovered from my ordeal, I hung the dress back in the closet. I haven’t gotten it back out since then, but every once in a while I like to walk by it, and whisper threats of stuffing it in a Hefty bag in the basement. You know, just to show it who’s  boss.

Enjoy Your New Car! Um, Just Don’t Look Too Closely At That Bumper



Unable to contain herself any longer, Gladys made the tragic mistake to join in the bouncy little  number instead of keeping her eyes on the road.


Last Friday, I was scrambling around getting ready to leave on a girls’ getaway weekend with my friends. Lest you think it was all sunshine and roses and pretty matching luggage, all assembled by a worshiping household staff, waiting for me to swan out to my chauffeured car, let me tell you something. Getting the family and house ready for me to leave for a couple of days is like preparing for battle. Schedules are written. Maps are drawn (well, map quested). Rations are assembled.  I have to go through several days of stress so I can leave for a couple of days to de-stress. Irony, she’s a bitch.

Because I just can’t leave town without knowing everything is covered at home. It’s like along with the epidural they injected me with some sort of obsessive-compulsive gene, because I swear I wasn’t like this before I had kids.

The two days leading up to my trip were a hailstorm of unexpected events, one of which was yet another trip to the ER with my daughter.  (Don’t worry, she’s going to be fine, but let’s just say Ghost in the Graveyard has claimed another victim.)  So, my planning and preparations didn’t go as expected, and I was running… a bit behind.

To top it all off, the kids’ teachers and class lists were due to be posted at exactly 3:00 on the day I was to leave. I had promised the kids I would take them to see the lists before I left for the weekend.

So we got in the car, and we were driving down the road, and one minute my oldest was talking about a bumper sticker she noticed on an SUV, and for some reason I glanced sort of sideways, and then…


Or maybe it was more like


Or, you know, just insert whatever sound you feel is appropriate FOR HITTING ANOTHER CAR!

Oh yes. I had plowed right into the car in front of me. I sat there for a few seconds, a sick feeling in my stomach, to process what had just happened.  Because the car in question? The one I just rammed into? Was a BMW. A sleek, shiny, black, extremely new looking one. Yeah. The day I’m supposed to leave on a mini-vacation with my friends, not only do I hit a car, it’s a really nice one.  Oh, I don’t do “small”, people.

My kids, of course, were losing their minds. Helpful comments rang out, such as, “OMG Mom, you just hit someone!” Observant, that one. Like the Hubble Telescope of seventh graders.

“Yes, I’m aware of that,” I said through clenched teeth, as I watched the other driver climb out of her car. I got out and immediately started falling all over myself and apologizing, as you do, only I was flapping my hands and my voice was strangely panicky and high-pitched.

“OHMYGODIAMSO SORRY! ISERIOUSLYCANNOTBELIVETHATJUST HAPPENED!” Flap flap flap. Squeak squeak squeak. Instantly I had become a thirteen year old girl, of the kind usually found on Disney sitcoms.

Silently, she bent over to inspect the damage. I was still babbling apologies sprinkled with the occasional “ohmygodohmgodIcan’tbeliveIdidthis” when suddenly she stood up.

“You know what’s ironic about this?” She said.

“What?” I said miserably.

“I’m on my way to the bank to sign over the title to someone else. We just sold it.”

Whaaaaaa?! This just kept getting worse by the minute. At that point? I was pretty sure I was going to upchuck right there in the middle of the road.  I bent down to look for damage, which, ya know, I had trouble seeing anyway probably because my eyes were blurry with tears,   when the other driver said this:

“There’s a small dent, but you know what? Let’s just forget about it. I just won’t let ‘em look too close at the back bumper before I sign it over!” And then she laughed. And she told me to have a great day. And she got in her car and drove away.

Lessons learned? Other than watch the road while you’re driving, dumbass?  Sometimes when you need it most, an angel appears. And sometimes angels drive BMWs.

Enjoy your new car!