Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Two decades worth

Sometimes high school friends "friend" me on facebook and ask what I've been up to for the past 20 years, so I've come up with a form letter to let everyone in on the excitement that has been my life over the past two decades.

Dear so and so,

It's so good to hear from you. Due to my laziness, the chances of me sending you a friend request were slim to none, so thank you for taking the initiative.

As far as what I have been up to for the last twenty years, well, I will try to distill everything down to the nitty gritty, truly important stuff.

After graduating from high school in 1987, I went onto to college, graduating from Suny Albany in the winter of '92, with a degree in the "liberal arts." It was well worth it; I am still liberal and artistic. I'll save you the trouble of doing the math and just tell you that yes, it took me longer than four years to graduate. I was busy doing important and productive things during that time, things not related to my studies, hence the delay.

I met my husband (although he wasn't my husband when I met him) in the summer of '90 and married him in the summer of '93. His name is Greg and he grew up in Buffalo, NY. I can't really describe him to you, as it wouldn't do him justice, suffice it to say that he has a twisted sense of humor, talks minimally, and doesn't care what anyone but me thinks of him. Sometimes this fact makes me nervous, but most of the time I find it refreshing. Oh, and he does laundry on a regular basis, and adores me and our children, so I bagged me a good one.

Greg and I spent the first years of our marriage moving around to various places like Rochester, NY, West Kill NY, North Carolina and Vermont. There was also a short stint in Maine that I prefer not to think about.

In the fall of 2001 we decided we should take the three children that we now had (two girls, one boy) and move closer to extended family, so we moved back to Albany, NY, where we remained for about four years, until we decided that we should move again, this time to someplace warm and brimming with job possibilities for my husband - he works in construction as a project manager. He's pretty bossy so he has done quite well in this position.

Anyway, in the fall of 2005 we packed up and moved to central Florida, knowing that the state was bursting with building projects and Greg would never be out of a job, and so far he hasn't been, although things got dicey last year, but I think we're okay for now. I don't worry too much about this stuff.

At first I hated central Florida, as it was the exact opposite of everything I had ever known. I especially hated the palm trees. They seemed so empty and soulless and I spent many hours wondering if we had made a huge mistake moving to a place where the only trees were ones that provided no shade, but then we found this great little town called Mount Dora, Florida, located in beautiful Lake County, and I decided I didn't hate it all. There were huge oak trees with Spanish moss dripping off of them, and lakes, and hills, and friendly people and my kids said it reminded them of their Fisher Price village, so we decided to buy a house and settled in.

Right around this time I had another baby. She was a total surprise. At first I was annoyed that I was pregnant because I was a perfect size 6 and I didn't want to get fat, as I am stay at home mom and dreaded becoming the stereotypical, dumpy mom, but the second Maggie was born I told everyone to pretend I had never said some of the things I did while I was pregnant. I certainly didn't want her to get a complex and think that keeping my figure was more important to me than bringing a new life into the world. As it turns out, she is doted on like no other child has been and will probably go on to do something incredible and amazing, like curing diabetes. But even if she doesn't I won't care. None of us can imagine life without her. She's pretty great.

As far as the details of our lives right now, I homeschool my fourteen and twelve year old daughters, but my son, who is ten, goes to public school. My kids are funny and cute and love to read and were once described as "little spark plugs." That's really all you need to know about them.

I spend most of my days reading, painting my walls over and over again, moving furniture around, walking around our town and enjoying the beautiful weather (unless it dips below 50 degrees and then I refuse to go outside.) And of course I have met some wonderful friends. In fact, I think the friends I have met here may be some of the nicest people on the planet.

I guess my life keeps me busy because I fall into bed every night completely exhausted. And yes, I know it all sounds so simple and quaint, but when I was a little girl I had no aspirations to lead a glamorous life filled with wealth and fame; I only wanted to grow up to be a mom and wife, so I guess you could call me a success story.

I hope this fills you in on some of the finer points of my life. Please let me know what you have been up to for the past twenty years.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


One of my greatest joys as a child was visiting my grandparent's house. It was not a house filled with many rules. The only ones in place mostly had to do with food. We couldn't freely dip into my grandfather's beloved Twinkies, hot dogs, or liver worst; permission must first be sought. The other rule was that we definitely were not allowed to touch the thermostat, although we didn't know about that rule until my Uncle John, the youngest of my dad's eleven siblings, dared to touch the heat one day and chaos ensued.

I guess my grandfather was highly attuned to temperature settings and sensed that something was amiss. He went and checked the thermostat and when his suspicions were confirmed he started carrying on in a manner that was somewhat amusing. My grandfather wasn't prone to speaking, let alone yelling, and he wasn't even prone to moving out of his chair, so to see him running through the hall, flailing his arms and opening his mouth to scream was too much for my ten year old self to comprehend. My siblings and I ran upstairs, caught between nervous laughter and my Uncle John, who was trying quickly to remove himself from the scene.

At some point the crisis was diffused and we went back to doing things like making prank phone calls. My grandparent's house was a hotbed of prank phone call making. I think the fact that my grandfather was always reading and my grandmother was always working on puzzles meant we could get away with this for several minutes at a time without anyone becoming suspicious. When we were home in our tiny apartment, with a mother who had an uncanny knack for overhearing everything, we never even bothered trying.

My children started asking me questions about my grandparents yesterday, which started me down this path of reminiscing. One of my happiest memories is something I think about quite a bit, specifically every year when October rolls around.

The particulars are fuzzy, but it was fall, I was probably not more than ten or eleven and there was a baseball game on t.v. It was an important game, probably a play-off series, and the Yankees, who my brothers loved, and some other team, maybe the Red Sox, who my brothers hated, were playing. It may not have been the Red Sox, but my disdain for them makes telling this story more enjoyable.

Honestly, it doesn't matter that much who was playing. What matters is that my grandfather, who never watched sports, who never engaged anyone in conversation, who never got excited over anything other than people screwing with thermostat settings, started watching the game. The game grew more interesting and my grandfather moved up to the edge of his chair, which was quite shocking, and then he got excited and started pointing and wiggling his fingers at the t.v. and yelling out "WHAMMY!" whenever the pitcher threw the ball, and just like magic, each time he yelled that, a strike was called.

At first I think we may have thought he was losing his mind. A man doesn't go from never speaking to yelling out whammy without people thinking something is wrong, but the more he did it, the more we screamed and encouraged him to keep going and he did, right on through to the end of the game, which the Yankees won. Even now, as a forty one year old woman who should know better, I believe the reason the Yankees won that game was due solely to my grandfather's special powers.

If not for that small incident many years ago I may simply remember my grandfather as someone who never wore anything other than a black suit(I think he even wore it while he was sleeping) and someone who was obsessed with the air temperature of the house. I guess that's not a horrible way to remember someone, but telling my kids those things wouldn't have captured their attention the way the baseball story did. (Although a man who never,ever wears anything but a black suit, even on the weekends, even on vacation, even in the heat of muggy summers, is suddenly becoming more interesting for me to think about.)

update - After I wrote this my dad emailed me and let me know it was the Kansas City Royals, not the Red Sox, who the Yankees beat. I knew either my brothers or my dad would remember this seemingly minor detail -minor only to women. Julie, I hope this makes you feel a little better.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


In light of my previous post, in which I admitted I busied myself last year by getting into a fight with a fourteen year old girl, and leaving and then returning to the scene of a fender bender, it appears I may be ripe for some resolutions, but I'm not going to go that route because history has shown that resolutions don't work. Plus, to resolve to do something sounds difficult and implies a certain amount of hard work is involved. Instead I am going to have some New Year's hopes. The word hope is much sweeter sounding than resolve. If you hope for something you merely have to sit back and wait for it to happen and it will.

Here are some of my New Year's hopes. I hope to get back into shape. I hope to become more organized. I hope to think before speaking. I hope to keep my house clean on a regular basis. I hope to not lay in the sun, something I can barely resist doing when the weather turns warm, even though I know it is giving me wrinkles and moles and my doctor told me to stop doing it. I hope to take my contacts out every night before going to bed, and to remove my makeup at that time. I hope to stop speaking in excessively loud tones to my children, although that one went out the window already when one of my kids lolly gagged while getting ready this morning.

I do have some deeper hopes, but I feel weird putting them on here because they involve my faith and I find it increasingly more difficult to talk about my faith. I want to guard it with everything I have. I don't know what I am guarding it from - probably from neighbors who are trying to convince me my faith is not true. Nothing drives me further into my faith than when people do this, so I guess I am thankful for the recent annoyance. I'm pretty quiet about my beliefs and expect people to behave in kind. I'm surprised when that doesn't happen.

I hope to send a letter to David Sedaris begging him to come to central Florida for a speaking engagement. I guess our area is not deemed worthy of his presence, but I think I may be able to woo him with some of my lofty praise. I'm pretty charming when needed. Last week I was at the store and a friend who I haven't spoken to in some time was behind me at the deli. I'm not quite sure what happened to the friendship - most likely a lack of effort on my part. Things kind of just fizzled out and I could tell when I saw her that she was going to look down or pretend to get a phone call so as to avoid any discomfort, but I turned around and said " HI So and So, ( I called her by her name as I find this helps people feel better), how have you been?" And all was well again, due to my dazzling and irresistible personality. Right now you should be envisioning me smiling (with sparklingly teeth, of course) and the "ding" sound should be going off in your head. Please hope along with me that David Sedaris will come here.

I hope more people will leave comments on here. It makes writing more fun knowing people are reading. Terri and Julie, you are much appreciated!