Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Heart-Shaped Coffee Stain

My husband Bob and I don't travel often, but when we do, we typically stay at a Hampton Inn. Reasonable prices, clean rooms, comfy beds, free breakfast, and best of all....freshly brewed, free coffee available 24/7 that could give Starbucks a run for their money.

And so it was on a recent trip to visit Bob's family in North Carolina that we found ourselves in our room at the Hampton Inn, coffee in hand...that is until Bob accidentally spilled his precious brew all over the carpet. Acting quickly, I threw a towel on top of the spill, hoping it would stop the coffee from seeping onto our shoes, luggage, etc.

A few moments later as I busied myself  in the bathroom with hair and make-up, Bob called me back to the scene of the crime.

"Lisa, look!" he said in amazement.

I poked my head out of the bathroom and, as commanded, took a look.

The towel had started its job of absorbing the coffee stain, which one could hardly call extraordinary.

However, the stain had formed itself into a perfectly shaped heart.

Extraordinary indeed.

A coincidence?  Perhaps.

A sign? Much more likely.

The heart-shaped coffee stain came as I neared the end of a seven-day sprint spent with people I love. The week began when my daughter Melissa, on her college spring break, once again stripped us of our "empty nester" titles as she resumed her familiar presence at home. And as the week inched towards its conclusion, the hubby, the daughter and I made a 9-hour journey by car to Raleigh, NC for a "not long enough" weekend visit with Bob's parents, sister, brother-in-law, niece, and nephews.

We relished in our brief time together, talking, singing, laughing, eating, playing games, and eating some more (courtesy of my mother-in-law's superb cooking), and all too soon, sharing warm hugs of farewell.

We had planned the trip to coincide with the end of spring break so that we could make a pit stop on our way home to New Jersey to drop Melissa off at American University in Washington, DC.

Not one for long goodbyes, Melissa couldn't wait to get out of the car and embrace campus life after a week's reprieve from term papers and professors. Bob and I helped with her bags, gave our cherub a quick squeeze, and reluctantly walked away as she laughed with her friends, secure in the knowledge that this place had truly become her home.

 I climbed into the car, feeling that familiar, overwhelming sense of  melancholy that has become an unfortunate part of the "my child is in college" experience. But this time, those feeling would not last long. Our "family time" weekend still had one more treat in store...precious moments spent with our 19-month old grandson Miles and his parents, our daughter Jessica and her husband Brian, who live in the DC suburbs.

Bob and I whiled away the afternoon with Miles by playing with toy trains, reading books, and enjoying a walk outside.

Then, yet all too soon....another goodbye.

Later that evening I collapsed into bed, wrapping my arms around my sweetheart, whose exhaustion mimicked my own. Within moments we both lapsed into sleep. A warm, sound, comfortable, content sleep.

Memories of our time with treasured loved ones would soon take their rightful place in our hearts as once again - as was the case before the start of spring break -  my world would be shared with my husband...and only my husband!

Perhaps it was no accident that Bob and I were the only people who bore witness to the heart-shaped coffee stain. Perhaps it was a sign that no matter how many times we say goodbye to those we love, no matter how many times we shed a tear as a daughter or grandson walks away...that the one constant in our lives will be each other.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.




Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Fire at the Jewish Community Center
*When this incident happened two years ago, my initial fear was that this was a terror attack against our local JCC, and that my daughter was in the midst of it. In light of the more than 50 bomb threats that have been made against JCCs across the country since the start of the year, I thought it was an appropriate time to run this piece again. It has been edited slighlty from the original.

Two years ago, as vice president of her local B'Nai B'rith Girls Jewish youth group, my then 16-year old daughter Melissa could often be found  co-leading chapter meetings or lending her creative skills to a committee of teens planning a calendar full of special events.  And so it was on a Thursday evening that I found myself, once again, on my way to the neighborhood Jewish Community Center (JCC) where the meetings are held, ready to fulfill my end of the carpool bargain to drive Melissa and her friend Gabby home.

With an Olympic-size indoor poor, comprehensive fitness complex, a preschool, a conference center, and dozens of classrooms, the JCC is an impressive facility used by hundreds of people, both Jewish and non-Jewish alike, on any given day.

Arriving early as I usually do, I loitered in the lobby, flipping through some brochures to pass the time until the meeting ended.

I didn't pay much mind to the middle-aged man who walked through the lobby following his workout, until he paused in front of the information desk and announced that he smelled smoke.

To verify this seemingly odd claim, I took a deep breath and, indeed,  inhaled the distinctive odor of a recently lit match.

The elderly woman at the information desk called security, her nonchalant manner demonstrating no sense of urgency, no indication that she had detected the ominous scent that now permeated the entire lobby.

My thoughts turned to Melissa!

I know from experience that my daughter tends to linger a bit longer after the official chapter meetings have ended, taking advantage of a few moments to debrief with the other board members. However, as my mind began to make sense of the impending danger, I determined that on this night there would be no such lingering....I had to get her out of the building!

I propelled my out of shape body up the stairs faster than I thought possible.  Here, the smell of smoke became noticeably stronger, leading me to the incorrect conclusion that the fire had started on the second floor.

That's right.

The second floor!

The floor that played host to my Melissa and her unsuspecting friends!

I raced down the hall, becoming more and more frantic with the passing of each packed classroom. Finally, when I arrived at the far reaches of the second floor corridor, I burst through the door,  an emotional wreck of a mom, ordering Melissa and her friends to evacuate.

"The building is on fire!" I screamed.

They didn't need to be told twice.

Together we ran toward the stairs, banging on classroom doors as adults and teens alike poured into the hall, all striving to reach the safety of the fresh air that beckoned from beyond the building's front doors.

Smoke continued to fill the corridor.  As Melissa and her friends descended the stairs, the fire alarms finally began to reverberate throughout the building, providing proof positive to anyone who doubted the danger that they needed  to GET OUT!

We tore through the lobby, only to witness a JCC employee attempting to calm the masses, assuring everyone that the fire had been extinguished and they could come back in.  Not wanting to take any chances, I yelled for Melissa and her friends to ignore this attempt at reassurance and to keep going!

Shaken, but unharmed, Melissa and Gabby followed me to the car, where, during the drive home, we wondered aloud what had started the fire, and if the building had gone up in flames.

Fortunately, it had not.

Yet, unanswered questions remained.

1. What started the fire?
2. Why did it take so long for someone to activate the alarm?
3. Why did an employee tell people it was safe to return to the building, when the large facility was still filled with toxic smoke?

The next day I called the JCC, expressing my disappointment at how the staff had handled the emergency.  A senior member of the JCC's administration listened to my call with grave concern. Tucked away in a board meeting in one of the classrooms on the second floor, he too, had born witness to the events of the previous evening.

I shared with him the deep-rooted fear that had gripped me since the night before, since I had raced up the smoke-filled stairs in search of my baby. During those tense few moments, only one thought filled my mind - that this was a terror attack, and the name of my innocent daughter would blare across the next day's headlines as the victim of yet another anti-semitic hate crime.

My fears, though fortunately unfounded, were not without reason. After all, the reports of a self-proclaimed neo-nazi who killed three people at a JCC in Overland Park, Kansas were still fresh in my mind.

The fire had started on the first floor in the preschool kitchen, and had indeed, been extinguished almost immediately. However, the JCC executive agreed that the alarm should have been pulled the moment the flames had sparked, and that nobody should have been allowed back inside until the fire department - not a member of the staff -  gave the ok.

He assured me that the JCC would use the fire as a terrifying wake up call for much-needed emergency response training so that if smoke fills the halls because of a small kitchen fire - or if flames occur as a result of a something more sinister - the staff will know what to do.

And now, two years later, the threat has become even more real...and even more terrifying. Since the start of 2017, there have been 53 bomb threats made against JCCs in 26 states, as well as extreme vandalism to to Jewish cemetaries in St. Louis and Philadelphia.

I am at a loss for words to explain the bomb threats, or the antisemitism behind them. All I can do is provide education and awareness and hope that good will, eventually, prevail.

If you like my stories, please tell me in the comments section below.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Fun With FAFSA

 FAFSA, which stands for F***ing Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a wonderful document that allows you, by answering a few simple questions, to receive unheard of amounts of free money to send your child to college. When my husband Bob and I were faced with the prospect of filling out the FAFSA form, we shouted with glee.

Ever since my daughter Melissa informed American University that she would, indeed, accept their offer of admission, Bob and I spent many pleasant afternoons working on the FAFSA form. In fact, we were quite dissappointed when we finally hit "submit" because we no longer had the wonderful opportunity to type in our user name and password...to feel that rush of exhilaration watching the page load...to jump for joy when the pop up message informed us that our user name and password were wrong...to sing and dance with unbridled enthusiasm when, after resetting our user name and password for the 3,964th time, we were told that our user name and password were still wrong.

Yes, when we hit "submit" we were so, so sad, knowing we'd have to wait an entire year before we could relish, once again, the enjoyment that only the FASFA form can bring.

But wait!

As luck would have it, a letter arrived in the mail from American University. Turns out they needed additional paperwork in order to provide Melissa with an accurate financial aid package.

Bob and I popped the cork on the champagne!

Hooray!  We get a chance to work on the FASFA form again!!

The letter from American University informed us that we needed to submit the following information:

  • The federal indemnity doowackleshnort form 392100945556667 Section A, Section P, and Section QZ
  • The IRS 1962, 1963, 1978, 1984, 1998 federal gumpshum form section XL
  • The work enhancement student study worker's wages WT, WTH, and WTF form
  • The independent student aid challenge IRS suggested waiver wages inheritance muggle form 1080 ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Yippee!

We didn't have any worthwhile plans this weekend anyway!

1:00pm
Bob and I sit down at the computer with the following essentials:
  • All requested paperwork
  • Scanner
  • Stapler
  • Stapler remover
  • Vodka
  • Divorce Attorney
1:05pm
User name and password are incorrect

1:15pm
User name and password are incorrect

1:30pm
User name and password are incorrect

3:00pm
User name and password are incorrect

3:30pm
More vodka

4:00pm
"WHAT DID YOU DO WITH THE GUMPSHUM FORM?" exclaims Bob.

"It's right here," I calmly respond. "I removed the staples, scanned it, and sent it to my email."

"WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU REMOVED THE STAPLES! NOW HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW WHICH FORM GOES TOGETHER??!!" he shouts.

"It's not a problem," I say. "I put the gumpshum form over here because I already scanned it, now all you need to do is give me pages 4, 10, and 692 section A, Q, and L of the doowackleshnort form."

"DON'T PUT THE GUMPSHUM FORM OVER THERE, HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW WHERE IT IS IF YOU PUT IT OVER THERE??" shouts Bob in exasperation.

"I ONLY PUT IT OVER THERE BECAUSE I ALREADY SCANNED IT!" I exclaim, losing my patience.

"Oh, ok. well don't go moving things around," he says, trying to maintain control. "Now the doowackleshnort form wants an accounting of my income since 942 BC."

"No wait," I say, examining the form. "They want my income too, including the $350 I made as a junior counselor at Adventureland Day Camp in 1979."

"I am pretty certain they only want my income," he counters.

"I don't think so," I object, looking more closely at the form. "Look, it says: when in the course of human events it comes to pass that the borrower of the lending parent's student put her left leg in and shook it all about, then the diameter of the isosceles triangle shall include the guardian parent (s) income as reported on form ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUV."

"Right," says Bob with confidence. "That means they only want MY income!"

"I don't think so," I counter.

6:30pm
More vodka.

7:00 pm
Bob frantically searches through 952 piles of paper. "WHAT DID YOU DO WITH THE LETTER!?"

"WHAT LETTER!!??" I shout, about to pass out from starvation.

"THE LETTER FROM THE SCHOOL!" Bob shouts back in frustration.

"WHICH LETTER FROM THE SCHOOL. THERE ARE 22,000 LETTERS FROM THE SCHOOL." I ask, trying to refrain from my desire to swat him across the head.

"THE LETTER WITH THE INFORMATION! YOU KNOW THE ONE WITH THE NUMBERS!" comes his incoherent response. "THE FORM YOU LOST WHEN YOU INSISTED ON MOVING ALL OF THE PAPERS AROUND WHEN I TOLD YOU TO KEEP EVERYTHING TOGETHER!"

7:30pm
Sob hysterically. 

7:35pm
Get tissues.

8:00pm
Wake up the divorce attorney.

10pm
Hit "submit" and hope for the best.

Ah yes, the FAFSA form. I bet you can't wait until you have a college-age child so that you, too, can experience all of the love and joy that my husband and I shared this weekend.

In the meantime, if you need me, I'll be sitting in a fetal position in my home office, sucking my thumb, and trying to remember my user name and password.

If you like my story, please tell me in the comments section below!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

I Miss Her More When She's Home

On that fateful day when the doctor in the delivery room handed me a tiny, six pound baby girl, I could never have imagined coming face-to-face with anyone quite so beautiful, or loving someone quite so much.

As my husband Bob and I prepared to leave the hospital with our bundle of joy and officially enter the next phase of our lives, I wasn't sure we were quite ready to earn our new title: "parents". However, we didn't have a choice. Like two bumbling idiots, we figured out how to heat Melissa's bottle just right;  swaddle her in a blanket so she'd forget to cry; position her into that bizzarre contraption called a car seat; and change those oh so stinky diapers (surprisingly, Bob never got the knack of that one.)

College?

Ha!

We were trying to function on three hours of sleep, who could think about college?

Freshman year, financial aide, dorm rooms, meal plans, boring professors, midterms, finals, winter break....all figments of some distant place that existed a million years beyond my comprehension.

A million years at warp speed.

A million years on borrowed time.

Borrowed time where I denied that my daughter would some day enter her her senior year of high school.

Borrowed time where I dreaded graduation, and the inevitable moment two months later when that precious, 6 pound baby girl would leave the safety of her parent's arms for the unknowns of a college campus.

Yet all of the fear, the pain, and the longing I expected to feel when my baby left home surpringly did not come. Bob and I entered the next phase of our lives and adjusted quite well to our new title of: "empty nesters".

Did I miss my Melissa? Of course. But we talked or texted just about every day.

The semester brought new friends into Melissa's world, and a deep-rooted appreciation for college life at American University in her adopted city, Washington, D.C.

We watched her learn, grow, and mature as she welcomed each day with excitement far beyond anything we could provide at home.

Yes home, in all of it's ordinary glory. Where a cozy bed and a piping hot shower fill my cherub with joy.

Yes home, where mom does her laundry and the cat sleeps by her side.

Yes, home, where we'll talk for hours about school and friends and hopes and dreams.

Yes, home, where she is now during her four-week long winter break, a time that is both wonderful and cruel.

For these four short weeks, Bob and I happily discard the new empty nester role that suits us so surprisingly well. Our parent hats go back on as we embrace  borrowed time with our precious girl.

Because I know, all too soon, the cat will return to sleeping  in a bed devoid of his favorite human.

I know, all too soon, we'll be communicating via text, instead of side by side.

I know, all too soon, she'll go back to her life, and we'll go back to our's.

And I know.....I'll be ok.

Bur for now, I can't help but miss her, even though she's still home.


Melissa and me at the Strawberry Fields John Lennon memorial
during a winter break day trip to New York City.



Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Hanukkah Fairy

We all know of the famous Christmas tale that begins, “Yes, Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus.”  Well, my story takes somewhat of a different spin.  You see, nine years ago, I finally had to say to my then 10-year old daughter, “No, Melissa, there really isn’t a Hanukkah Fairy.”

It all began when my baby girl (now a freshman in college) still enjoyed the innocence of kindergarten.  As December approached, her classmates chattered endlessly with anticipation, wondering aloud what wonderful presents they would find under their tree Christmas morning, courtesy of their hero, the one and only Santa Claus.  From the perspective of a five-year old, not getting a present from Santa seemed so unfair.  It didn’t matter that her grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, family friends, sister Jessica, and of course, my husband Bob and I showered her with presents for the eight days of Hanukkah.  As one of only a few Jewish children in her class, all she knew was that her gifts did not come from Santa, and that, in her young mind, made her feel terribly left out.

Sooooo…in a “crazed mom” effort to ease my daughter’s pain….I sort of made up a teensy weensy little lie.   I told her she should feel lucky, because the Jewish people had the Hanukkah Fairy. 

Ok, I admit, I am not proud of my deception to my five-year old.  However, when her big brown eyes lit up, and her frown faded away, I simply had to perpetuate the myth.  What I didn’t count on were all of the questions.   “Where does the Hanukkah Fairy live?”  (At the mall.)  “How does she know what I want for Hanukkah?”  (I tell her when I go shopping, and she picks out the presents and gives them to me) 

The hardest questions were targeted to my husband, who desperately struggled to elaborate on a lie he didn’t invent! 

“Daddy, is the Hanukkah Fairy real?” she asked during a quiet moment when the two shared a car ride alone. 

“Uh, well, hmmm,” came his eloquent response, as he wiped the sweat off his forehead and secretly cursed me under his breath.   “The Hanukkah Fairy is real if you believe it’s real.”

The holiday came and went, and thanks to the Hanukkah Fairy, Melissa finally felt just as special as her friends who received gifts from Santa.

When the holiday season approached the following year, I naively thought my little girl would forget about the Hanukkah Fairy.  Alas, t’was not meant to be.  As Hanukkah inched closer, not only did Melissa wonder aloud about the many presents the Hanukkah Fairy would bring, but she told all of her friends about it, who in turn told their parents, who in turn asked me about this totally unfamiliar Hanukkah tradition.  I had to whisper out of earshot of my daughter and explain to my Jewish and Christian friends alike how and why I invented Melissa’s new-found favorite fairy.

As Melissa got older, Bob and I tried very hard to help her understand that, even though we celebrated a different holiday, we shared with everyone the spirit of faith and goodwill that for me, is the best part of the holiday season.  Each year, we would “adopt” a less fortunate family, and Melissa took delight in wheeling the shopping cart through the toy store, helping to pick out gifts for the kids.  On Christmas day, Melissa made cards out of construction paper and we delivered them to patients in the local hospital where I worked at the time.

We also tried to help her understand the story of Hanukkah.  It takes place in ancient times. When the King of Syria outlawed the Jewish religion, a Jewish rebellion broke out and although outnumbered, the Jews were able to drive the Syrians out of Jerusalem. During the fighting, the Holy Temple was destroyed.  However, amid the devastation, they found enough oil to burn in a lamp for only one day.  Yet, miraculously, the oil burned for eight days, giving them time to find a fresh supply. And that is why we light a candle for each of the holiday’s eight days.  

Hanukkah pays homage to everyone who has fought for the right to worship as they please, to celebrate their heritage, to share their own traditions with their children, and to be proud of who they are.  In short, Hanukkah celebrates freedom!

Today, at 19, Melissa has long since put aside the notion that presents arrive thanks to magical beings carrying baskets full of Barbies and Disney princesses.  While she still gratefully appreciates the gift cards and generous checks she is sure to receive this holiday season, for my teen, the holidays have evolved into something much more than an excuse to exchange presents.  It is an opportunity to help me create a festive holiday brunch complete with latkes (fried potatoe pancakes), bagels and creamcheese, and kugel (a staple at every Jewish holiday, this casserole can be made many different ways, but usually features noodles, eggs, milk, and cheese - I like to add appricot jam!);  to appreciate the memorable traditions that connect us to past generations; and to relish in the love of dear friends and family, both near and far.

Happy holidays to you from The Weinstein family…and The Hanukkah Fairy!

This post is a repeat of one of my favorites. In the spirit of the season I am happy to run it again, with some minor updates to the original.

I love getting feedback!  If you like my stories, please tell me in the comments section below!



Sunday, November 27, 2016

Coupon Savings with my Birthday Boy

As my husband Bob searched through the weekend circulars, his eyes lit up with delight. Seems our local supermarket offered quite the tantalizing deal. If you purchased a certain amount in gift cards, the supermarket would generously bestow upon you $20 to be used towards your next purchase.

But alas, the offer came with caveats, as most great offers do.

The gift cards had to be purchased on either Friday or Saturday, and the $20 could only be redeemed during the following week.

But wait, there was more.

The savvy shopper had to purchase at least $20 worth of groceries in addition to the gift cards, or else.....no deal.

But wait, there was still more.

A quick look at the fine print (using our "old folk" reading glasses of course) revealed yet one more pesky rule:

Limit one per person.

Bob and I were technically two people, yet the supermarket savings cards we each carried on our key chain featured an identical account number.

One account.

Two people.

Would we be able to beat the system and save $40 instead of $20?

(Cue the theme from "Mission Impossible")

Our weekend plans were set!

On Friday, we put our conniving scheme into action. We entered the supermarket and each took a cart. Bob placed $20 worth of groceries into his cart, while I did the same. Bob grabbed the required amount of gift cards, while I did the same.

With phase one of our plan complete, we nonchalantly meandered over to the checkout, Bob choosing register 5 while I stayed far away at register 12, lest our actions raise suspicion.

After paying, I thought the cashier would simply hand me a coupon for $20 - but nooooo -  the store had other plans. At the bottom of my receipt, in the tiniest of type (yes, reading glasses again) I discovered a numerical code. Seems I had to give this code to the cashier when I came back to redeem my $20 worth of free groceries.

But wait, the plot thickens.

Upon careful examination we discovered that Bob's receipt featured the identical numerical code.

Two people.

One code.

Would our carefully constructed plan backfire?

Two days later we found ourselves back at the supermarket, ready to put phase two of our mission into action. Once again we grabbed separate carts. Once again, we each filled said carts with $20+ worth of groceries. Once again, he chose register 5 while I strolled over to register 12, trying not to raise any alarms.

I gave the cashier the code, and with a sigh of relief, she subtracted $20 from my total.

The plan, thus far, had gone off without a hitch!

But our mission had not yet come to completion. Bob still lingered in line back at register 5. Would his code work? Would he get through the check out process without blowing our cover? Would he be questioned by the cashier...or worse yet, by the manager. Would he be denied his $20 in savings? Would he be escorted from the store, never to be welcomed again?

I waited at the other end of the supermarket, holding my breath. Bob completed his transaction and wheeled his cart in my direction. I followed him out of the store and into the parking lot, not daring to speak lest our secret plans were overheard.

Once safely tucked into the car, Bob pulled out his receipt to reveal to me that yes - indeed - his code had worked too! Together we had saved $40 on our grocery bill!

Mission accomplished.

As we drove home I came to the realization that my husband, who celebrates his milestone 60th birthday tomorrow, is a giant goober. And the kicker is, so am I.

We are two goobers who have been married for 22 years, together for 26. We are two goobers who raised two daughters, married off the oldest, welcomed a grandson, and sent the youngest to college. We are two goobers who are now empty nesters, whose life has come full circle - who are now, as we were in the beginning - living together with only each other for company.

We are two goobers who would rather spend a milestone birthday weekend plotting against the supermarket rather than celebrating with a wild night on the town.

And you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way.

Happy 60th birthday Bob. You are my love, my best friend, my everything, and most of all...my favorite goober.

I love you!

My birthday boy and me!

If you like my stories, please tell me in the comments section below.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Big Foot Lives Among Us!!
(One woman's quest for size 10 wide shoes)

BREAKING NEWS!

We interrupt this blog to bring you breaking news from the heart of New Jersey.  Ordinary citizens have reported frequent sighting of the horrifying, elusive creature known to many as "Big Foot" or "Sasquatch".  

Upon further investigation, scientists have new reason to believe that these sightings could truly indicate this frightening monster does, in fact, exist.

Mrs. Mary Whorple, 59, of Anytown, USA, described her encounter in great detail.  "I was comin out a the card store, ye see, cause last week was ma sister's birthday and I forgot to get er a card, and, well, y'know, she always send me a card on mah birthday so I really felt terrible, especially since her husband Larry, that no good louse, always forgets."

Announcer:  "Um, Mrs. Whorple, did you actually see Big Foot."

Mrs. Whorple"  "Oh yeah, ah did.  The monster was sitting on the curb right in front of that shoe store that's next to the card shop and it seems like it was....uh....it was..."

Announcer: "It was what Mrs. Whorple?"

Mrs. Whorple:  "Well it seemed to be cryin it did.  I felt kind a bad for the poor thing, but by the time I went over to see if ah could help - the thing had disappeared."

Yes, strange tales like these have been repeated again and again throughout New Jersey.  The sightings always seem to take place in front of a shoe store, although there have been reported incidents within the vicinity of department stores as well.

Scientist who have dedicated considerable resources to unearthing the identify of this terrifying creature, have finally been able to say, with utmost certainty, that Big Foot in none other than....

LISA WEINSTEIN

Yes.  T'is true.  Your's truly has been blessed with the world's largest feet.  For the majority of my adult existence, I fit quite comfortably into size 9 wide.  My quest for shoes often presented challenges, but somehow, some way, I managed to find the perfect pair.  That is until several months ago when I innocently entered a shoe store with a simple task in mind, find a comfy pair of sandals.  I located  a pair of size 9 wide from among the many boxes, slipped them on my feet and discovered to my horror..........................................................................................................  

THE SHOES WERE TIGHT!

In some cruel, twist of fate, the shoe gods decided that size 9 wide did not present enough of a challenge for me.  Somehow, the shoes gods felt I needed something to test my resolve, to strengthen my character, to make me break down in fits of hysteria in the middle of the store.

MY FEET HAD GROWN BIGGER!

I don't know how it happened, but I like to blame Zumba.  A few weeks after embracing my twice weekly classes of sizzling Latin dancing, I began to experience a throbbing, shooting pain that found its origin in the souls of my feet, then shot through to my two middle toes, making the simple act of walking an agonizing prospect.

The podiatrist hypothesized that my feet had suddenly become flat, perhaps as a result of toe tapping to the Latin beat.  He could offer no explanation, and suggested I take out a second mortgage to purchase $3,672 "SUPPORT" sneakers and wear them ALL THE TIME, at home, at work, at sleep, in the shower, while swimming, etc....

I lasted one whole day before the technically advanced sneakers landed in the back of my closet, never to torture my toes again.  

Thus began my quest for shoes that would bathe my tired toes in luxurious comfort.  Would I ever experience that pure feeling of bliss that comes when a pair of shoes becomes one with your feet?

Store #1

Me: "Do you carry these in a size 10 wide?"

Salesman:  "I'll have to go in the back and check ma'am.  Goes into back room.  "Hey Joe, get a load of this, some lady wants shoes in a size 10 wide.  Who does she think she is, Big Foot?  HAHAHAHAHA!."   Returns from the back room.  "I'm sorry ma'am, we are out of size 10 wide."

Store #2

Me: "Do you carry these in a size 10 wide?"

Saleslady:  "No, we don't but I can order them for you online."

Me (feeling somewhat hopeful)  "Really???"

Saleslady:  "Sure, no problem.  And if they don't fit you can return them here to the store."


ONE WEEK LATER

I came home to find a package waiting for me on the front door step.  My new shoes!!!  I ripped open the box to find a pair of black sandals staring back at me.  I crossed my fingers, praying to the shoes gods for the perfect fit.

I tentatively placed my right foot into what appeared to be an extremely comfortable pair of sandals.  Then followed suit with my left, only to discover.....LOOKS CAN BE DECEIVING!

As promised, the shoe store did, indeed, accept the return, except for one small caveat - they refused to reimburse me for the shipping.  

Sigh.

Thus, since I determined the online option would not work on my feet or my pocketbook, I continued my quest.  After sobbing uncontrollably in front of countless shoe stores, I had almost come to the realization that I might have to wear the only comfy shoes I owned (fuzzy slippers) every where I went.  

Then, the shoe gods guided me to New York City.  While taking in the sights with my husband Bob and daughter Melissa, the shoe gods caused the skies to open up and the rain to come streaming down.  In search of shelter, my little family took comfort in......you guessed it, a shoe store!!!  Aerosoles, to be exact!

Once inside, the shoe gods guided me to the perfect sandals, available in a size 10 wide.

MY FEET HAD BECOME ONE WITH MY SHOES!

As the weather began to grow colder, I faced, once again the arduous task of searching for size 10 wide shoes.  But this time I took comfort in knowing I could visit the Aerosoles location a few miles from home.  

The shoe gods had other plans.

Instead of happily skipping into my local Aerosoles, I stared up at a luggage store in bewilderment. "Oh yes, this is wear Aerosoles used to be," explained the kind sales woman in response to my desperate plea for information.  "I think they went out of business."

BREAKING NEWS!

Several eye witnesses have reported a sighting of the elusive creature known as "Big Foot" or "Sasquatch" sitting on the curb in front of a luggage store in the heart of New Jersey.

Mrs. Agnes Smith, 76, explained her encounter in vivid detail:  "I tell ya I saw the darn thing and I swear I heard it....I heard it....

Announcer: "You heard it what Mrs. Smith"

Mrs. Smith:  "I heard it crying."

*This blog is a repeat of a post that originally ran in 2012. After a weekend of unsuccessful shoe shopping, I had the overwhelming desire to run it again. 

If you like my stories, please feel free to tell me in the comments below.