Random & Expensive Stuff

My week has been crazy.  Here are a few snippets….

Mother’s Day was good for me.  My husband always does a stellar job of spoiling me on that day.  He got me my favorite donut for breakfast, took me to brunch and we went shopping with the kids.  He also made dinner and did all the dishes.  The finest moment of the day, however, was his discovery of an app on Facebook that allowed you to generate your own Top Gun call sign.  Did you know Mother’s Day also fell on Top Gun day this year?  I didn’t even know there was a Top Gun day, but I was thrilled to share in it.  And for shits and giggles, I made the decision that for the entire day, we could only address each other by our new Top Gun call signs.  I was “Boom.”  Dan was “B.A. Baracus,” and Bryce was “Hoser.”  That one was my favorite!  Bryn was “Cat,” which she loved because cats are her favorite animal.  We laughed and made fun of each other’s names all day.  It was magnificent.

U2 at The Forum

This past Wednesday, my husband was invited by one of his vendors to attend the U2 show at the Forum, here in Los Angeles.  I have never seen U2 in concert.  To be honest, I’m not a huge U2 fan.  The last time I was actively interested in one of their albums was back in the 90’s.  I’ve always liked U2, they just haven’t been on my bucket list of bands to see live.  I didn’t want to go.  The show was on a school night and I wanted to wear sweat pants, sit on the couch after helping the kids with homework, order sushi for dinner and go to bed super early.  I suggested Dan take a friend and make it a guys night out.  He said, “I like you.  I want to spend time with you.  You are my wife, and I want to take YOU to the show.  You have to see U2 perform live at least once in your life.”  Well, isn’t that sweet?!  So I went to the show.  And I didn’t regret it.  It was amazing.  Even though I only knew about five songs on their set list, it was an incredible night of visual and musical artistry.  I love rock music, and they did not disappoint.  I even almost cried, twice.  Almost.

My refrigerator died slowly this week.  It was fifteen years old and the compressor went out.  The repairman said it would cost around $600-700 to fix it, and even then I would be lucky to get another 3 years out of it as other essential parts started to wear out.  He recommended that for that amount of money and the age of the machine,  I should research and look into purchasing a new unit.  Thankfully, as we are approaching Memorial Day weekend, everything is on sale.  So Dan and I went to Home Depot last night to start looking.  When I told the Home Depot sales guy that I was replacing a unit that was fifteen years old, he looked like he was going to choke on his tongue.  He informed me that the refrigerators today are just not made the same, and I should not expect more than a ten year life span for any new unit we buy.  I wish I could say that surprised me.  Maybe it’s because of the technology, but products just don’t last as long as their older generations.  We keep finding ways to make things cheaper, less durable, more disposable, yet they cost more.   Anyway, an hour later, I left with a receipt for a new refrigerator that cost twice as much as my old one, and will die in half as many years.  Good times.

Minnie

Also this week, my cat had what I believe was a seizure and scared the hell out of us.  We had gone to bed, and as I was laying there half asleep, I hear what sounds like two of my cats wrestling their way across the floor.  I sit up and look around the dark room to see the shadow of one cat rolling around uncontrollably.  Dan jumps up and flips on the light to find our cat Minnie scrambling around like she’s trying to run away, but half her body isn’t working.  By the time I got my hands on her she was panting so hard her tongue was hanging out of her mouth and her pupils were severely dilated.  I was worried she’d had some kind of a stroke and was going into shock.  Dan took her to the emergency vet, and initially the vet suspected she might have had a blood clot.  A few hours later, a round of blood work, two x-rays and a bill for $600, we had no definitive answers.  Dan brought Minnie home and by the next day she was fine.  No coordination issues, no lingering side effects of whatever had caused her body to go hay-wire the night before.  And did I mention it cost $600?  As Dan would say, “Fucking cat.”

I’m looking forward to this next week, and no unexpected surprises.  No emergency vet visits, no last minute late night rock shows, and no appliance apocalypse.  This is Boom, and I’m out.

Her Eulogy

A little over a week ago we lost my beloved grandmother.

Some of you may recall that I’ve written about my visits with her every summer. Getting Old is not for Sissies  She was 96 years old and passed peacefully in her sleep.  It’s a blessing to know that her passing was quiet and quick.  It’s heartbreaking for me to accept that she is no longer with us.  A physical and emotional presence that reminded me every day to be my best self, even when I wasn’t.

This past week our family came together in her hometown of Bloomington, Illinois to celebrate her life and lay her to rest.  We are a family strong in Catholic roots, and my Nanny was a devout Christian Catholic woman to her core.  So, as you would expect, her service included a Catholic mass in the church where she was raised, and where she also raised her family.  I was baptized in this church.  My parents were married in this church.  My grandfather was memorialized in this church.  Our family’s life is intricately entwined with sacraments and services that took place in this church.  I spent countless Sundays sitting in the pew next to her, learning how to participate in the Catholic mass by watching my grandmother.  Memorizing the responses, imitating her motions of kneel, stand, sit.  Kneel, stand, sit.  This particular house of God has immeasurable significance for me in terms of emotional and physical memories.  To stand in the sanctuary, in front of her casket, was almost more than I could bear knowing it would most likely be the last time I ever had cause to visit this place.

When the service started I was beside myself with emotion.  As were the rest of my family.  My Nanny meant so much to each and every one of us.  We were all trying to manage our grief.  The service was lovely, but something was missing.  The priest gave the eulogy for my grandmother.  This is not common.  Typically, a family member would do it.  But for some reason no family member had been identified or asked prior to the service to give the eulogy.  I don’t know why, and wouldn’t dream of questioning the decision because I was not the one responsible for planning the service.  But it felt incomplete.  The priest did his best to honor my grandmother, but he did not know her. He could not convey with any depth of emotion or real intimacy the woman that she was, or what she meant to all of us.

I know I wouldn’t have been able to stand at the alter and talk about her without completely breaking down, and I’m talking about some serious ugly crying.  And because I need closure I decided to write my own eulogy, of a sort,  honoring her and my memory of her.  So, this is what I would have wanted people to know about my grandmother….

Kathryn, or Kay, as most people knew her was born in June of 1921.  She was an Irish Catholic Midwestern girl who grew up during the Great Depression.  She often told stories about the depression, describing food shortages and what little money most families earned at that time.  She talked about having one pair of stockings that she had to wash out by hand every night so she could wear them again the next day.  She told these stories in an attempt to help us understand how good we had it growing up.  I’m embarrassed to say that at the time we were just horrified  to learn that she had to live without things like Doritos and Taco Bell.

My Nanny was very meticulous with her appearance.  She wasn’t necessarily vain, but it was extremely important that she always look her best.  Perhaps this was something learned during the depression, as she had so little material possessions or clothing.  She learned to work with what she had.  She did her hair and make up every day.  She pressed her blouse and her slacks.  She sewed clothes for herself and her children.  Once, she made herself a beautiful camel colored wool-lined dress coat.  She loved cashmere turtle-neck sweaters and wool blazers.  She once made my cousin and I matching plaid, wool, pleated skirts to wear to Christmas Eve Mass.  I would give anything to have that skirt back.  She also slaved to ensure that her husband and children went out into the community every day as representatives of her household.  They were meticulously dressed, pressed, and laundered.  At her funeral service my cousins and I were laughing and trading stories.  One cousin told me that she came to Nanny’s house one day wearing a pair of ripped and torn jeans.  Nanny asked her if she bought the jeans like that, and when she confirmed that she did, Nanny said, “Poor girl.  Can’t even afford to buy a whole pair of pants.”

She kept her home in the same meticulous manner.  She made her bed every day.  Hospital corners.  She cooked and baked almost every meal from scratch and she always had a cake or pie prepared in case someone dropped by and she needed to offer them something.  She knew how to refinish wood floors, kept a garden, and everything had it’s place.  She tried to teach me the importance of these things.  As a teenager I would laugh.  Make my bed every day?  Well, that was just crazy talk.  But when I stepped into her home I would breath in the smell of freshness, with a hint of bleach, and it was comforting.  I loved knowing that I would crawl into a bed that night with freshly washed and ironed sheets.  And that I would wake up to the sound of eggs frying in the pan and the smell of biscuits coming out of the oven.  My own childhood home was often chaotic and unorganized, so being in her home provided a sense of old fashioned comfort.

Given that my Nanny was a devout Catholic woman, she was truly a servant of God.  She took her responsibility as a Christian seriously and every moment was a teachable moment.  She prayed openly for everyone.  She and my grandfather organized and coordinated a prayer group every week, and they were huge members of the charismatic movement within the Catholic church.  No one loved Jesus more than my Nanny.   Last summer when I was visiting her, she was worrying quite a bit about family members, and I said to her, “You know what you need to do.  Just give it to God and everything will be ok.”  That’s what she would have said to me.  She looked up at me with wide eyes and said, “You have been listening to me all these years!!!!”  Even when I didn’t want to, I was listening.

I have a strong personality, much like my grandfather.  Nanny would always remind me that my tongue could be sharper than a sword.  She would say, “Mind your words.  They are like feathers, and once you let them go, the wind takes them and you can never get them back.”  I didn’t want to hear it at the time, but over the years I found myself measuring my actions and words by whether or not she would approve.  I can honestly say that in those moments where I held back, or didn’t do something impulsive because I knew she would disapprove, I never once regretted the choice.  The thought of doing something that might embarrass her was unacceptable.  She would often say to me, “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do, and that covers a lot of territory.”  Of course, I often did thing she wouldn’t do, and in my adult years I would sometimes tell her stories of my bad behavior.  Sometimes she would laugh and other times she would roll her eyes and say, “Well, I will pray for you.”

She loved the Lawrence Welk Show.  She would sing at the top of her lungs while cooking or doing housework.  She made me homemade mashed potatoes and gravy every Sunday because she knew it was my favorite.  She helped my grandfather manage their drive-in restaurant.  She coached the young people who worked for her at the restaurant on how to mind their manners, develop a strong work ethic, and represent their employer and community with pride and dignity.   She was an old fashioned, fierce, Godly woman who loved her family and loved her Jesus.  She refused to talk poorly about others because she felt it was a terrible sin.  She taught me about faith, unconditional love and how to respect myself and others through her actions.  She could talk the talk and walk the walk.  She held her loved ones to a high standard, and she voiced her disapproval when we fell short.  But there was always love.   She was love and light, with a little bit of sass.

The last time I saw her prior to her passing was last July during our annual summer trip.  Her Alzheimer’s was progressing rapidly and she had become more emotional and confused.  I knew it was the last time we would make the trip as a family.  Too many people in the room made for a rough afternoon.  As I was leaving and saying good-bye, she was the most distant she had ever been,  like she was saying good-bye to the mail man.  At the door as I was about to walk out, I turned around and said, “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”  In an instant she lit up from the inside and said, “And that covers a lot of territory.”

She was laughing as I closed the door behind me.

Beyond the Veil

Hello, world.

It’s been so long since I’ve done this that I feel as if we’re on a first date, again.  Honestly, I’m a little nervous.  It’s been a while since we’ve spent any time together. Will you still like me?  Will I say something funny or interesting, and will you laugh?  Will we be able to regain that sense of mutual interest and connection?  Will you text me later and say you had a nice time?

I promise that if you do, I won’t wait another eight months to respond.  😉

The past eight months has flown by in a whirlwind of activity.   Work, kids, husband, friends, travel, work, kids, husband, work, family, work, PTA, kids and work.  It’s all been good, mostly.

My job, which I started nine months ago, has been going pretty well.  After six years as a stay home mom, I took a part-time position working for a music publishing company as a music coordinator and personal assistant.  It’s been fun.  We create and license orchestral music/sound design for movie trailers. I love music and movies, so it seemed like a good fit, although I have no previous experience in either industry.  As it turns out, my penchant (read OCD) for detail and organization lends itself nicely to the trailer music industry.  A lot of people ask me for examples of what we do.  Did any of you happen to see the debut trailer for The Last Jedi?  The epically moving, raise the hair on your arms music in that trailer just happens to be ours!  Yes, it was a BFD.  We celebrated the next morning after the release of the trailer with mimosas and French omelets.  Just in case you haven’t seen it…

Later, my daughter asked me, “Mom, what did YOU actually do to contribute to that movie trailer?”  I couldn’t tell if she was mocking me because she thinks I’m lame, or if she was looking for proof that I’m really as cool as I tell her I am.  So I was honest with her and said, “Not a damn thing.  My job is to do all the other stuff, so the people I work for can focus their time and talents on creating music for projects like this.”  I’m pretty sure she took that as validation of her initial assessment, which is that I’m lame.

Despite how well my job is going, I will admit that I’m still waiting for my lightening bolt.  For a long time I’ve had this sense that there’s something I’m supposed to be doing, yet I have no idea what it is.  It’s like there’s a thin veil hanging over my life, and I can’t quite see through it, but I know the answers I need are on the other side.  I’ve always envied people who understood their talents. People who have a clear vision of their path in life.  Some people know without hesitation what they are meant to do. Their talent and drive toward that goal manifests itself clearly for them.  For me that has never been the case.  Despite doing well in the career/jobs I’ve chosen, I’ve always struggled to fully grasp my sense of purpose, and after celebrating another birthday this past September, I feel a sense of urgency toward whatever self-discovery needs to take place in order to put myself on the right path.   I’m not afraid of hard work, I just want to realize what I’m supposed to be working toward so I can get on with it.  Is it too much to ask to wake up one morning with a hand written note beside my bed that reads,

Dear Wanda, 

You are destined to become a dolphin trainer.  Please make arrangements for whatever training is necessary to complete this task and file your application for employment at Sea World, as soon as possible.  

Your welcome,

The Universe

I think I would take a clue like that seriously.  I tried asking my kids what they think I’m good at.  Their answers are ridiculous but I love their honesty.  My son says stuff like, “You’re good at snuggles, Mommy.  And you make the best meatloaf.”  He also told me I was good at being a mommy, and he suggested I open up the baby factory and have another one so he could be a big brother.

So that’s where I’m at.  Attempting to support one company on it’s path to greatness while I strive to discover my own.  If any of you can relate, it would be awesome to hear about it.  And by the way, to those of you who reached out to check on me during my little blogging hiatus, I want you to know how much I genuinely appreciated that, so thank you!  🙂

Little Boy Laughs #2

A conversation today with my 6 year old son…

Bryce:  Mom, I’m really sorry.

Me:   For what?

big eyesBryce:  I was reaching into your purse for a tissue, and I accidentally dropped my booger in your purse.  Now I can’t find it.  It was an accident, Mom.  I’m really sorry.

Me:  You dropped a booger in my purse?

Bryce:  Yeah, but hopefully it will be crusty by the time you find it.  Then you know, no surprises.  That’s good, right?

Boys are gross.

Little Boy History Lessons

martin-luther-king31This morning, I asked Bryce (age 6) if he knew who Martin Luther King, Jr. was, and why we celebrate him.

He responded with this…

“Yes, I know who he is.  He was a great man who went to jail, like thirty times, so that black people and white people could eat together.”

(Insert proud mom moment here.)

It’s a simple answer, yes.  A complete answer, no.  But through the eyes of a six-year-old, it’s one hell of a start.  🙂

Good News, Bad News

It’s been too long since my last post.  I’ve actually started and discarded several posts.  I can’t seem to finish one, either because my thought runs out of steam, or I just feel like I’m rambling about something no one would really be interested in.

So, instead of an organized essay of sorts, here are a few things that have been on my mind lately…

14045999_1168043969905338_3983056748036945361_n1Politics.  (Insert a deep, prolonged sigh, accompanied by an eye-roll).  I know everyone has talked the election of 2016 to death, and I’ll be honest and say that I’ve written and deleted this paragraph at least three times.  I’m over editing myself because this topic is so polarizing and divisive that I hesitate to even discuss it.  Generally, I don’t discuss politics with many people.  And I’m breaking my own rule here, but I feel so strongly about this that it almost hurts to not say something.  To say anything.  It hurts to stay quiet.  So, very carefully, I will say this…for those of you who voted for Donald Trump, well, I hope that works out for you.  For those of you who didn’t vote for Donald Trump, well, hold on to your butts.  In a few days this shit is about to get real.  Time will tell if he has what it takes to be an unconventional yet effective President, or if he is truly a man-baby-twitter-whore who can’t find his ass with both hands unless Kelly Ann Conway draws him a map.  And for all of us, I think this election cycle has been a great reminder of how a democratic society works.  We all have a responsibility to be involved, no matter what side you align yourself with.  We can’t wait for others to do the heavy lifting.   Whether we understand politics or ignore it because we’re intimidated by what we don’t understand, we  all have an obligation to participate.  Congress takes advantage of your willful ignorance, and apathetic people are easily manipulated.   So get involved.  Be the change you want to see in the world.  Whether it’s in your community, local or state government, get involved. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what issues matter the most to me so that I can take steps to participate and do my part.  I hope you will too.

In other news, I got a job.  That’s right!  This girl got a J.O.B.!  After six years of being a stay home mom, I am officially employed again.  And you know you’ve re-entered the workforce when you have to disclose on your job application that you were technically arrested in 1992 for Disturbing the Peace, because that shit is a misdemeanor and stays on your record FOREVER.  It’s ok though, because they hired me anyway.  I’ve been really bored since Bryce started first grade.  I volunteer a lot at the school, but I had a few days a week where I just felt like I was wasting time and brain cells.  And apparently the universe agreed that I was ready to go back to work and just handed me an awesome opportunity.  A friend of mine owns a music publishing company, and they have hired me as a part-time music coordinator and personal assistant.  The company creates and licenses music for movie trailers!  How flipping cool is that?!  It’s unlike anything I’ve ever done before and I’m having a blast learning this whole new industry.  So, thank you universe!

img_0181My dog Mavis, who is now nine months old, won’t stop shitting in the house.  It’s making me crazy.  It’s like she’s decided that she’s too good for grass.   She pee’s outside, no problem.  Then she comes to the door, runs upstairs and poops on my bedroom rug.  I refuse to let this dog believe that she can just drop heat anywhere her little heart desires.  I am the alpha in this house!  She spent the morning in her kennel because she pooped on my rug after she had already gone out this morning.  Mind you, my entire house has wood floors.  When she poops, she always uses the rug.  When I came home I went to let her out.  In defiance of being put in her kennel she refused to come out.  img_0178Fine.  She can just stay there.  So she did.  Then a few hours later I came home again and pulled her out of the kennel and took her outside.  She pee’d, then wanted to come back in.  But I know her game.  I made her stay outside.  She tried to wait me out.  She even sat there shaking and giving me her sweet little sad eyes.  Oh, she is such an actress!  It took about fifteen minutes, and I swear she huffed at me, then walked to the grass and pooped.   Ha Ha!  Today I am the winner!

I miss books.  I’ve been so busy between the holidays, kids and my new job that I haven’t read a new book in months.  I have several in my kindle that need my attention, but if any of you have a good recommendation I am always looking for new books.

That’s about it for me.  My life goals for 2017 are set.  Community service, learning a new industry, becoming a dog whisperer and reading more books.  I think that’s a good list.  What about you?  I missed a lot of New Year’s posts in the past two weeks.  I’d love to hear some of your resolutions and goals for the year.  🙂