Friday, November 21, 2014

Decoratively Challenged


                           
                                                   






NORMAL







                                                                                                                  HOLIDAY DECOR


As I mentioned in my last post, Thanksgiving is around the corner and I cannot wait. I have made my shopping list and already purchased a 25 pound turkey at Publix where I had a run in with the check out girl because she insisted I put it on the treadmill after I asked her to come scan it in the cart. I tried to explain to her that I had a bad back and she remained adamant so the bag boy finally came over and hoisted the thing up there. I did however get a free reusable shopping bag with Pilgrims on it which is in the top of the pantry with all the other free reusable bags that I never use, let alone REUSE.

Anyway, tomorrow M and I will do the big shopping, dividing the day between Publix and Costco. I really love that we do this. When I was married, it was always just me running around like a crazy person, and when I finally put my beautiful dinner on the table my ex would look at me and say, "What, no eggnog?" The only thing that scares me about M and I shopping together is that I am afraid we are turning into that old couple that has one car, you know where the man drives the woman everywhere and waits for her while reading the paper? I totally see it coming.

Anyway, I feel good about everything, except for one aspect...decor. I can cook up a mean turkey dinner but my holiday decor leaves much to be desired. (See above) Every year I buy more stuff to help make my home and table welcoming and real Thanksgivingy.  I probably have like 15 little wooden turkeys and Pilgrim guys along with my kids artwork from preschool.  I lay everything out on the table in what I think is an esthetically appealing arrangement, yet it looks more like the arts and crafts table in a kindergarten class. I admit it, it's not my strong suit.

This year, as every year I turn to Ina Garten the Barefoot Contessa for tips. I just want to go live in her house and eat dinner with her and Jeffrey (are they still married?) every night while we share amusing stories about my kids and stuff. I picture Jeffrey refilling my glass with a deep red Merlot while I ramble on, "And then you would not believe what happened in third grade!" as he and Ina chuckle at my tale. Then I retire into one of Ina's unbelievable guest rooms which probably all smell like cinnamon cookies and fall blissfully asleep dreaming of breakfast.

I always look through her books and am amazed at what she does. Her turkey is beautifully sliced into perfect pieces whereas mine looks as if it has been ripped apart by wolves. Also, who decorates with dried cranberries? I want my centerpiece to be a beautiful arrangement of fresh herbs and cranberries too! And what's more unbelievable, everyone has a MATCHING wine glass. I always use my extra big ST.PETE PIER one with the big pelican on it and the rest are various shapes, sizes and colors— every man for himself.

Oh well, this year I bought some new Rachel Ray plates with acorns on them and bright orange napkins which now I'm afraid will give off a Halloweeney vibe. I also bought two new turkeys that sit on the table with their legs hanging off which should really take it up a notch. M and I are starting a new family tradition this year that entails a tequila shot before dinner. And really who needs dried cranberries when you have Turkey, tequila and togetherness.
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Friday, November 7, 2014

Thanksgiving, Book and Ebola


This morning, as every morning, I turned on my computer and immediately logged on to Facebook to see 1. If Ellen DeGeneres friended me yet and 2. What Kim Kardashian and baby North are wearing.  My eyes were immediately drawn to the message across the top, that said, AMY! WE CAN STOP EBOLA!

Now I don't know who sent this, but I have to say, I am totally flattered. To think that someone out there believes, that I, a woman who gets lost if I take the back way home from the grocery store and still hasn't figured out the whole stupid hashtag thing, has the knowledge and fortitude to wipe out Ebola, well, what can I say? I mean, I am not taking this lightly.

The thing is I realize the world is counting on me to wipe out this deadly disease/virus (What is it??), but it will have to wait till after the new year. I mean I am totally at my limit right now with things I need to do. For one thing, as many of you know, ( and many of you do as I have a tendency to begin every conversation with, "Oh did I tell you I sold my book?" and now when I open the door to my FedEx guy before I even open my mouth he says, "Yes you told me,") I did sell my book and I have a deadline of January first to turn in my final manuscript.

It's funny, but before the sale, I would sit down and write for hours and the words just flowed. When I reread my words, they all sounded great, and I just knew I had a bestseller on my hands and began planning book tours in my head, starting in NYC and ending in Beverly Hills. Now I have days when I sit at the computer and stare at an empty page for hours telling myself,  WRITE SOMETHING! IDIOT! HURRY!

On top of this, we are coming into the holidays and as I do every year, I am hosting Thanksgiving. This year we will have a houseful, M and I, with all of our children, seven between us, their spouses or significant others, family, and friends.  I am so looking forward to it, and not just because  I love stuffing. There is something about preparing a beautiful meal and watching people enjoy it that makes me feel good. And yes, I do make an extra tin of stuffing and hide it in the garage fridge to be eaten later in the privacy of my bedroom, as I enjoy the whole season of Project Runway on my DVR. SO?

Of course, with holidays comes memories. For a few years after my divorce, they were painful ones. I continued to put out the little paper cups turned into turkeys that my daughter and I made one afternoon when she was five. I remember sitting with her, looking at her little fingers working the little brown puff balls she glued onto the cup and thinking, "remember this perfect moment," taking comfort in a hot cup of coffee as I watched the leaves blow around outside. There was also the pine cone turkey that my son made in preschool, the little nooks and crannies of the pine cone filled with red and yellow pipe cleaners. The centerpiece in fact, was a big brown paper bag turkey, the tail fanned out into the shape of my older daughter's hand, another kindergarten masterpiece. These reminders of years gone by, warmed my heart but broke it at the same time. They served as a reminder, Thanksgiving will never be the same.

This year, as I begin to bring together all the makings of the big day, I am embracing the change. I can picture all the happy faces that will be around the table, the people that are here because M and I have found each other and have made a life together. The best part for us is watching our children enjoy each other, share what is happening in their lives and sometimes make jokes at our expense, which is fine, (and yes you are all getting Nutri-Bullets for Christmas due to M's kale smoothie obsession), and even see them make plans with each other that don't include us. For us, the kid's table has a whole new meaning.

So yes, it's true Thanksgiving will never be the same but there will be new memories, stories that will be told again and again as years go by, and more chairs added as new family members make their appearance. In fact, it will be gloriously different—I can't wait.

As far as the Ebola thing, don't worry...I'll get to it.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Second Love YES! Second Marriage-Maybe?

So, two girlfriends and I were sitting at lunch yesterday at one of those places that my friend loves because she says the organic salads are so good and I pretend to love too because I don't want her to know that I am that unhealthy fatty that is thinking "Please God, let them at least have a decent burger on the menu." Of course, dating after divorce topped our conversation. Two of us have been through divorce and one is in the midst. We sat there eating our organic, gluten-free, lactose-free, bowls of lettuce, while I wistfully stared at the Irish Pub across the street and salivated for a Scotch Egg.
Anyway, we talked about dating, how to date, who to date, when to date, and shared some experiences that we have already beaten to death but decided to revisit. These gals are somewhat new to the game and I of course am an old, though very well-maintained, pro. I regaled them with tales of my various dates, the one who took me to Cheesecake Factory and changed tables every time I went to the bathroom, the one who was an insurance fraud investigator, but was on leave because he had fired a gunshot at his wife -- (In his defense, she fired first, so, I mean seriously, what was he supposed to do?) and even the one who stood me up and left me standing at a tiki bar, like an idiot, totally overdressed in my new Anthropologie shawl. (Remember when they had that brief resurgence before we all realized we looked like that weird librarian in junior high?)
I can tell those stories now, without cringing and even enjoy them because those dates, and those stories led me to the relationship I am in now, with a man whom I plan to share the rest of my life with. And as always when I tell these stories and get to the good part about how I finally found this man I am asked the same question, "Do you think you will ever get married again?"
Now, years ago, right after my divorce if someone would have asked me that I immediately would have answered, "YES! Do you know anyone?" because I could not imagine NOT being married. Being divorced after 27 years of marriage made me feel, alone, lost, adrift and in need. I thought perhaps I could slide another man right into that vacant husband position and my life could continue on much as before, Saturday night dinners with other couples, my occasional infamous themed dinner parties with colorful napkins, and the Sunday night dinners at my parent's house. Yes, I was definitely taking applications.
And then, I began to enjoy the freedom that being divorced can bring. I saw that sure, I did enjoy the company of a man, and yes I did want a partner to go through life with, but marriage? Now, not so sure.
Of course, I believe in marriage for all and I do think it is the foundation of our society. Still, at this stage of the game, both of us in middle age, I don't know. We have seven grown children between us, we have past lives, alimony, life insurance policies, ex-spouses that are still going to be part of our lives. Why now? Why not now? What is the answer?
I am not going to be so glib as to say "I don't see how a piece of paper can make us love each other any more than we do." A marriage license is not just a piece of paper, it says "I love this person above all others." In fact, I came across mine not too long ago, in an envelope with my divorce decree. I held them up side by side, one a beginning and one an ending, more than just pieces of paper for sure. But, is it one we need now at this point in our lives?
So. What? I don't know. We are getting older, and down the road, there will be challenges, possible sickness, surgeries, etc. Would marriage make those events any easier? In fact my man had some routine tests a while back and while asleep in his hospital bed, a nurse came in with a clip board of questions that needed answering. "Are you his wife?"she asked.
"No,um, I'm just his girlfriend." I answered.

I am JUST a girlfriend and he is JUST a boyfriend, and we love and cherish each other every day. Perhaps that is enough.
*Originally published in Huffington Post Divorce, October 2014
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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

This Divorcee Believes in Marriage


This weekend I attended an amazing wedding. The groom was handsome, the bride beyond beautiful. They are a perfect couple, both of them upbeat, fun and adventurous. (Normally, I hate people like that but since they are young, I’m giving them a pass.) I learned two things about myself from this experience, 1. It turns out I DO like little pieces of filet covered with parmesan cheese on a stick and 2. I want my daughter to get married, like tomorrow.

Now this may sound strange coming from a woman who is divorced, especially one who was left for a younger model with way better hair.  Sure I went through that  “Men suck” phase where I basically started off every conversation with, “Hi. OMG I hate men don’t you?” One time I was sitting at a friend’s house and her husband walked into the kitchen, opened the refrigerator and said “We’re out of milk,” before retiring to the den. I was like “OMG you don’t have to take that abuse! How can you live with someone like that? Get your stuff. You are so outta here!”

Thankfully for all concerned I’m over that now. You can all stop hiding from me in the grocery store. I promise not to run up to you with my cart anymore, yelling “This is great! Men suck! I can eat whatever I want!” with tears running down my face as I load it up with Chardonnay and salt and vinegar chips. Ahh...good times...good times... 

Anyway, I had to ask myself why do I feel so strongly about marriage for my daughter? (BTW I have two daughters, one in late twenties, one in early twenties. This is directed to the elder of the two...don’t even think about it Haley.) Of course one reason is that I see myself in a beautiful gown walking her down the aisle. Yes, Jewish mothers walk their children down the aisle. We are not about to be left out of anything where we can wear an expensive dress and have everyone look at us. Also, I will be gliding down the aisle to the theme song from Out of Africa. Not open for discussion Meredith.

The other reason, is that even after a gut wrenching parting from my husband of 27 years and a divorce that left us both crying in the judge’s chamber, the fact is...I still believe. I still believe in marriage, I still believe in the institution and I still believe it is more than just a piece of paper. I believe it is the foundation of our society and yes, I believe that ALL people are entitled to experience it.

As I have said  before in previous posts, we are not the same people at 50 that we are at 20. However our kids are getting married later then we did. Women are working at the same level as men with just as much intensity and focus. Couples are sharing the child rearing and home chores. It’s no longer “I do this” and “You do this,” it seems to be more of a “WE do this together.” The newly married couple I met this weekend seem to know each other very well, have been together for a few years, have the same goals and respect each other’s individuality. They are in their early thirties. These kids, I believe have a fighting chance. Also, they put a lot of thought into marriage and what it entails.

I on the other hand was in College, on my way to a Spanish test that I did not study for, and was thinking “Oh crap, is this Mexican casserole night in the cafeteria? I think I just want to get married and chill.” I turned on my heels, called my boyfriend/husband to be, said “Come get me,” and withdrew from school. The rest is history.

So, yes I believe in marriage and I believe this new generation has a shot at getting it right. They know each other better, they have more life experiences, they have goals and aspirations that they tackle as a couple. They get it.

In the meantime my daughter keeps her dating life on the down low, however, if there are any gentlemen out there between the ages of 30-35, looking for a true life partner, a mother in law who loves beef on a stick and who will be bringing him his bride to the tune of Out of Africa, feel free to contact me.

*Originally printed in Huffington Post Divorce 07/07/2014

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Monday, June 30, 2014

Uncoupling Can Lead to Newcoupling

So I’m sitting here reading People Magazine and don’t ask me why - it usually depresses me. Once I get past the photos in the front of celebrities with their beautiful children touring Disney Land, Fiji or a fantastic city in Europe I stop on the Book Picks and that of course depresses me because I am not on it. (My agent is in Hawaii right now but when she gets back I know our phones will be ringing like crazy!) Then I get to the stories about people who have changed the world by climbing a mountain in the name of curing hunger (Not sure exactly how that gets people fed, but, still they did it ) or became instantly rich and famous by blogging about cupcakes. Sigh.

Then I find something that sort of makes me laugh; Gwyneth and Chris may be recoupling. According to People, they are not totally sure they are getting back together but one source says, “They love each other and if the romance comes back, they’ll go with it if it feels right.” That is sort of like the time that Tony Magill told me in sixth grade that he would give me his id bracelet IF he could get it back from Cathy Malone and IF Gwen Mixer turned him down. That’s a lot of if’s. Frankly, based on how that all played out, I don’t hold out much hope for the Paltrow/Martin recoupling.

Here’s what I make of this, life became a bit of a drag because they have Apple and Moses and life is no longer one big party. Maybe at night Chris is feeling a little needy and Gwyneth is like “Come on honey, I just got the kids down and I want to write about gluten free scones on GOOP, and then he rolls over in a huff and watches Breaking Bad on his ipad with his headphones on. (Oh wait, I’m getting me and Chris mixed up.)

Still you see my point, it’s loving the other person when the romance is on low that makes and keeps a marriage. I should know, I’m divorced. 

I know how those years can be and I know myself and many others who could not weather the storm of what I like to call THE UNDER YEARS - under stress, under rested and under sexed. If you, like so many others find yourself single after this period of time, fear not. There is hope for happiness and it comes in the form of your second relationship.

I have been in my second relationship for five years, following the end of my 27 year marriage. I cannot tell you how different it it. We eat dinner together, sometimes I make it, sometimes he makes it sometimes we eat tuna sandwiches. During dinner we talk. Yes talk. There is no one asking us to cut their meat or if they have to eat that gross broccoli that makes them barf. 

Later we might take a glass of wine and sit outside and talk some more. We never run out of words, and there is no hurry. No one to tuck in, no homework to check, or in my son’s case no court ordered community service to be driven to. (Total misunderstanding, really.) It may sound quiet and it is. It is pure heaven.

At first I thought, “If only I could have talked to my ex like this, we would still be married.” But that’s the thing. We can’t talk to our spouses like that in the Under Years because there is too many things pulling us in too many directions. Jobs, kids, finances. Sometimes by the time you hit the pillow, talking is the last thing you want to do, well, ALMOST the last thing.

 I now wonder if perhaps we weren’t meant to have several meaningful relationships in life. Are we the same people at 55 that we are at 25? Most likely not. I am glad I was the person I was then, I have four beautiful kids and I would not have changed those years for anything. I am glad I am the person I am now, as well. It would be perfect if this person could have that person’s full eyebrows but all in all I am happy with myself.


The person I am with now is a true partner, a best friend, a soul mate. We have seven children between us, the youngest being 21. I look forward to many weddings, grandchildren, and family celebrations of this combined family we have made. More than that, I look forward to all the things we have yet to say to each other and the happy times we will share. So please, don’t despair if you are facing an uncoupling. Look forward to part two.

* Originally published June 24, 2014 in Huffington Post Divorce

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Give me PEE-ce

Now that I am in my fifties I have discovered things in life that I cannot live without. Netflix , Spanx, hummus and vodka all make the list. Of course I have also discovered things that I could live very nicely without: Dr. Phil, green juice, low rise jeans and tapas (Seriously? Give me a plate of food!) are stand outs on this list. Due to an experience I had this weekend my new NUMBER ONE THING I CAN LIVE WITHOUT is absolutely, without a doubt, I’d rather eat sugar free sherbet than have to deal with: the bathroom attendant. In other words, I have to pee, now get the fuck out.

This weekend I was in Chicago which is awesome. I love the hot dogs. I love the stores. And I love the trendy restaurants. So there I am in one of these awesome places filled with beautiful city dwellers,  enjoying my second cocktail when the call comes and I need to use the facilities. Plus it was very windy on the walk over and I’m pretty sure all my hair is blown to the left side of my head leaving the right side just a few thin wisps like a newly born baby bird. I head upstairs to the bathroom and open the door to find a large woman guarding the stalls. On the counter is a variety of perfumes, mints, HAND TOWELS, and a glass jar with dollars in it. Did I wander into the Nordstroms make up department by accident? WTF?

“Hey baby,” she says, “You can go right on in to number five.” WHAT? To make matters worse, I am the only one in here right now, meaning any noises that emerge from behind these stalls are coming from me. She knows it and I know it. I begin to sweat as I take a seat. I open my evening clutch purse, (aka my old Fossil shoulder bag with the strap ripped off) and begin frantically searching for change. Will she take a debit card or do I have to leave there with my hands dripping wet? Is there any way of sneaking a paper towel from the wall dispenser and running out? All I can find is a quarter, a nickel with a piece of gum from 1998 stuck to it and three pennies. I am in hell.

Then I start getting sort of mad, I mean what is she doing that I need to pay for? I can pick up my own towel, and I promise not to use the perfume which I’m sure has been sitting there for years and has turned into some noxious stinky shit that will make me smell like Mrs. Javitz my third grade Sunday school teacher. Frankly, unless I yell “Come wipe me!” I think this should be a free visit.

Then the heavens smiled above me. I heard a huge commotion, giggling, etc. I emerged from my stall to find three girls in prom dresses  primping in front of the mirror while the attendant was plying them with towels and hand cream. I made my move. Threw some water on my hands, grabbed a paper towel and ran out of there as if I had just stolen something from a jewelry store. Phew.  That was a close one.


I returned to the table looking worse than when I left due to the profuse sweating and the fact that I did not stop at the mirror to fix my feathers. I then did the only thing I could, ordered another cocktail and tightly crossed my legs.
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Thursday, May 1, 2014

I'm Toast

Every day it becomes increasingly clear that aging involves more than taking a Glucosamine Chondroitin pill with my lunch. (The creaking of my knees can be heard three reformers down in  Pilates class, and every session my instructor says, “Ew. Amy is that your knees?”) Still, I forge ahead and fight the daily fight of trying to eat only protein and perfecting the art of drawing on my disappearing eyebrows, making me look like Witchipoo from H R Puffenstuff.

This is how my day starts: I wake up and immediately tell myself, “I will not eat toast for breakfast.” I go to the refrigerator and take out two hard boiled eggs. I peel them carefully, and slice them into perfect little rounds. I salt and pepper them. I sit at the table and chew each slice. I tell myself “Good for you eating protein for breakfast! Now this will hold you over until lunch when you will eat lettuce with tuna.You go girl!” 

I then head into my office and turn on my lap top anxious to get a full day of writing in. I pull up a fresh screen and stare at it for about three minutes. I then log onto Facebook where I take an IQ test, and a quiz to see what type of tree I am. From there I go to Craigslist looking for a job that pays a lot of money but where you work from home like one day a week. This whole process takes roughly thirty minutes. I then realize I am starving. I go to the kitchen and make two pieces of rye toast. I think from here we can guess that the lettuce with tuna is not happening either.


Clothes shopping has also produced new challenges. First of all, why do I continue going into Anthropologie? What is actually happening to me in that dressing room as I try on see through peasant blouses and billowy long skirts that look adorable on young girls but make me look as though I should be hanging laundry in a shtetl? Is there some kind of weird gas or something they release making me tell myself that “OMG this is SO me” only to get home and realize there is no way I can leave the house in these garments? Also I have stock piled wall sized letter A’s wrapped in bright fabric and a million little bowls with painted peacocks on them. I have to stop going in there. Seriously.

On the upside, life is pretty good right now. I love my little waterfront house, and I love M even though he insists on making the bed every morning (Meaning I have to get out of it,) and refuses to watch any of the Housewives, which I totally do not get. My kids are doing pretty well, still finding their way but, finally those pesky legal issues seem to have subsided. At times I worry about my financial future but then remind myself that of course eventually my book will sell, it will become a blockbuster movie and I will meet Meryl Streep, so that usually calms me down.

So perhaps this is the part of life where I decide I am content yet hopeful of good things that may come my way, mainly becoming a published author, a close friend of Jon Hamm, and at some way later future date, a grandma, or at least a mother in law.  I will certainly contemplate this today, over coffee in my peacock mug and two pieces of sourdough toast.

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