Red Sporty and Flippy Hair

When you slam your bedroom door

the “I HATE YOU”

stinging my ears

I smile.

When you tell me you are leaving

one day and never returning

I smile.

Sailing from Pre-K, top down in your favorite “red sporty”

Heart between our heads

You always gave me “flippy hair” and a big smile.

You will leave one day

The love will stay right here.

red sporty

“Aretha! Clean up Broken Spirit Aisle 10!”

This may come as a shock to you earthly elves who finished shopping and decorating weeks ago, and are licking the envelopes of your Valentines tonight, so brace yourselves.  Some of us take longer to get in the “spirit” of this festive season. Every year I wait patiently for the Ghost of Christmas Present to visit me and open my eyes to the urgency of the situation and swell my grinchy heart up a bit. Today was the day, surprisingly early for me.

This morning had me speeding to the grocery for a quick trip before rushing off to work.   My sons had depleted all resources on their two snow days, and I knew it was time to make a food run when I was feeding the dogs and wondered if heated Turkey Bacon Alpo would taste like people food. ( Keep that one to yourselves, thanks.)  So, I wheeled in , steeling myself at the cast of morning characters I knew would be there.  There’s the miserable cashier who always complains and the deli guy who is only semi-conscious – how many times do I have to say “a pound”  or ,”one pound”  only to receive a  half pound?  Jesus.  Patience Tess. I said, as I bleeeched at the poinsettias, and grabbed a bunch of tulips instead. I thought I heard the angels shout “Christmas Denial Aisle 1!” on their heavenly intercom.

I drove my cart with stealthy precision and had reached my halfway point, lingering at the over the counter meds, contemplating an in-store overdose due to the Christmas music that was eating a dangerous hole in my brain. Suddenly, in aisle 10, the music changed and  Aretha and George Michael , circa 1987, were belting out “I Knew You Were Waiting For Me”.

Somehow I made it through the heartache

I escaped

I found my way out of the darkness, kept my faith

Kept my faith

Doing the 80’s side to side dance while contemplating canned soups,  singing out loud with Aretha , I swear I heard the angels snickering at me…I was suddenly in a great mood in the God Damned grocery store and Christmas thoughts started flooding the dark hole in my brain. “I need a tree!” “We need to plan a menu!” “I need to buy some gifts!” “Better get some cards!” panic, just dancing and jiving with my cart.  The angels  weren’t done with me yet more trick up their robes..Salvatore.

I arrived to my check out line a changed soul from my entry, and the miserable cashier started complaining as expected. I didn’t realize there was a person behind me, until I heard a thick Italian accent and a joyous ‘Buon Giorno!” and saw, I swear, for the first time in years, a genuine smile on the cashiers face. I turned and looked down into the very weathered Jimmy Durante-ish face of Salvatore.  He smiled at me and his eyes spoke the truth of a man who still enjoys a sweet flirtation.  His accent was so thick, but he took my hand and wished me a “Buon Natale” . I am still smiling at Salvatore, who reminded me of my own Italian grandfather, also named Salvatore.

I am all in for Christmas now…it will still be light on the music and the shopping, but I found my spirit today, with time to spare- I knew you’d be waitin’.

Arethra 80's

It’s Hard To See With A Pen In Your Eye

Oh, no she didn’t.  Yep, she did.  I ripped the pen from the little chain it was anchored with, leaped through the sliding glass window and stabbed her in the eye, screaming the whole time, “NO! I DON’T MIND YOU ASKING!”, again and again.  The police were, of course called, and I am typing this from my holding cell at the Baltimore County Detention Center.  I might be slightly exaggerating here, I should probably back it up a few hours..

The morning started innocently enough, I was off to see my eye doctor to address my rapidly deteriorating vision. The time of  reading glasses in every room of the house, hanging from my shirt, perched on top of my head, stolen from my husband, has arrived. I know this happens, but since I wasn’t born with eyes that work, this doesn’t necessarily signal the end of my life as I have known it.  Though, if you were in my Dr’s office this morning, you probably would have called ahead for your bedside commode and walker and had it waiting for your return home.  

I arrived at the office and was politely asked to have a seat, “dear”.  Okay, right there. If you are 20-something, please don’t call a 40-something “dear” a matter of fact, don’t call anyone “dear”, unless they are in fact, a “deer”, and that would probably be ok.  So, I sat my apparently ancient, dear ass down and waited to be called. Thirty minutes later, I was summoned back to the window of shame and asked, in a whisper, “How old are you..if you don’t mind me asking?”  CONGREGANTS! PLEASE REFER TO PAGE ONE OF MY BLOG HYMNAL!”  My journey into writing was launched on this very premise..and so it began. The poor dear, how could she have known? 

I started softly, “why would I mind?”  Her response..”well, you know how people are”   Still not catching on, she spies my date of birth on my record and states..”no worries, secret safe here”.  Uh-oh. The red button in my brain started flashing..”push me” and   I launched into my lecture about enjoying and appreciating all the years. Realizing I had a little audience behind me in the waiting room, I threw in a dramatic offer to take some folks on a little field trip to the Johns Hopkins Pediatric ICU so they could visualize how very fortunate they are to be able to grow gray and semi-blind. I heard a “Amen Sister’ from the waiting area and I marched back to my seat feeling like the Norma Rae of aging. gave a low-five to a 70- something woman, and waited for the police to arrive, because of the unfortunate scuffle that may or may not have occurred. 

Screw this silly culture that devalues aging so much..hold off on posting my bail too..I think I need a break from you silly young ‘uns before I really go off the deep end ..’tis the season! 


Mele Kalikimaka Means Shoot Me

Bing is up. I looked up and there he was.  I should have seen this coming. The husband has been humming “It’s Beginning To Look A lot Like Christmas” all day, and I have been buried under a blanket with a book pretending I can’t hear him.  He mumbled something about “bows” an hour ago and ran out the door. Jolly Joe returned an hour later with shopping bags and scampered past my still blanketed form, now pinned under two Labs. Before I knew it, the fruit watercolor print was down, and the framed Bing Crosby Christmas album was up, sounding the Christmas alarm.  Fa. La, La.


Before you write me off as a joy-killing Ebeneezer , it’s not Christmas I dislike. It’s not baby Jesus asleep in the hay I abhor.  It’s just , oh, say…everything else. Shopping, decorating, cooking, you know, everything.  I am not good at any of it, and the expectations of others has me quaking in my Uggs already.  The declarations of my family and friends, “tree’s up! gifts wrapped!”, has my head spinning like Linda Blair, spewing envy, disgust and fear simultaneously.  A Christmas carol on the radio has me changing the channel as fast as when the erectile dysfunction commercial interrupts our family television time. (If there is one thing my boys will know how to do, it will be to seek medical attention if an erection lasts longer than four hours….yada, yada, yada…but, I digress)

There is one thing I do love about Christmas though.  I love Festive Joe.  Despite my lack of spirit, he decorates and sings anyway, like a Who in Whoville, my grinchiness will not thwart him.  He bakes cookies.  Chef Joe plans and cooks a killer Christmas morning  brunch  for our family.  As I type , a six foot elf just ran past me with a wreath on his head and a big smile on his face.  I felt a heart full of love for him,  and maybe, just maybe a teeny twinge of Christmas spirit starting to seed?  We’ll see.