Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Bike Ride

For the past few days, southern New Jersey has experienced a well-deserved reprieve from the suffocating heat and humidity that typically grips the region this time of year.  Much to my husband Bob's objection, (he's not opposed to fresh air, just the insects that come with it) I threw open the windows, turned off the air conditioner, and allowed the beautiful breeze to systematically spread throughout our home.

Stuck inside for most of my daily routine, I longed to experience the great outdoors before the weather folks warned, once again, of the return of a sweat-inducing, oppressive, furnace-like forecast.

After dropping off my 14-year old daughter Melissa at her evening summer drama camp, I tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade Bob to join me for an outdoor bike ride.  He declined, explaining that insects live outdoors, and he lives indoors, and if they don't enter his world, he will kindly return the favor.  So, while Bob opted for his indoor exercise bike, I pulled open the garage, dusted off my helmet, pushed up the kick stand, and pedaled away.

As the cool air blew upon my face, I began to relax a bit and allow my brain's revolving to do list to pause for a few moments.   It had been a day of different hats for me.  In the morning, with my "mommy" hat firmly in place, I took Melissa to a doctor's appointment, where, instead of worrying about her, I worried about the "professional" hat I had planned to place back on my head that afternoon when I returned to the office.

However, a call from my sister Bev the night before changed my plans.  My mom had been taken to the emergency room, in need of gallbladder surgery.  I let my office know I needed to take a personal day, and would return to greet my work load tomorrow.

So, after visiting the doctor, stopping for a few things in the supermarket, eating a quick lunch, kissing Bob goodbye and dropping Melissa and her friend off at the local pool, I dug deep into my emotional baggage and put on my "daughter" hat.

Upon arrival at the hospital I learned that a respiratory infection had delayed the surgery for 24 hours.  I spent a few hours at the hospital, sitting by my mom's side, and chatting with my dad and sister.  She'll have her gallbladder removed tomorrow and I'm sure everything will be fine, but still....I worry.  What daughter wouldn't?

I pedaled up the minor incline of my street to the corner, happy that months of using the indoor exercise bike had left me in better physical shape than the previous summer.  My journey took me to Main Street in the quaint little town of Medford, New Jersey, where I paused to relish in the things I never noticed during the countless times I'd driven down this stretch of road.  A tree-lined stream that flowed under an ancient bridge, a family of ducks in search of food, a lone park bench at the foot of a hill, and historic homes decked in red, white, and blue in preparation for Independence Day.  Suddenly, I threw all of my hats away and replaced them with a photographer's cap.  I pulled out my cell phone, switched it to picture mode, and silently followed the ducks, hoping to frame the perfect shot.  

I'm not sure how long I stood there, snapping away, savoring the images of my home town.  All I know is, while capturing the beauty of every life, my every day life was kept temporarily at bay.

Finally, thinking Bob might start to worry, I reluctantly made the return trip.  I put away my bike, walked through the front door, took off my helmet, replaced it with my "wife" hat, sank onto the couch and wrapped my arms around my husband.

It had been a good ride.

If you enjoy my stories please tell me by commenting below!  Thank you!! 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Talking on the Toilet

I like to drink at work.

Wait, let me rephrase that.

I like to drink specific beverages at work.

More often than not, you'll see a mug filled with decaf coffee or a can of diet coke sitting amid the slew of papers and files that routinely litter my desk.  As a result, you'll frequently find me wandering down the hall to the small, three stall rest room my office shares with other companies that make their home in our business complex.

When I make these daily pilgrimages, I first pull my pocketbook from the depths of its secret hiding place (a drawer), and throw it over my shoulder, a source of comfort during my restroom journey.

My male readers may ask, "Why do you need a pocketbook just to go to the bathroom?"

My female readers scoff at such a silly question!  There are a myriad of items of vital importance that may come into play during a restroom visit....lipstick, comb, brush, floss, tweezers, hair clips, mouthwash, and feminine protection of all shapes and sizes. (Men are thinking...why did I ask?)

So, earlier this week I walked the now beaten path down the hall to that oh so familiar room marked "women"on the door, chose the middle stall and went about my business.  A few seconds later, someone else walked in and took the stall to my left.  Nothing unusual there, I thought.

Suddenly, from the deepest bowels of my pocketbook, I heard the familiar sing-songy sound alerting me that someone had dialed my cell phone.


Did I risk answering the phone and letting the woman in the stall next to me hear my private conversation?   As much as I wanted to pretend the sound did not exist, I also knew that my 14-year old daughter Melissa had spent the day at a friend's birthday party, and could very well be calling me to discuss pick up plans.  I should probably at least glance at the number to see if the caller might be my offspring.

One look at my phone revealed a set of numbers that I did not recognize, yet indicated the call came from the local area.  Hmmm, Melissa could be calling from a friend's phone, it certainly would not have been the first time she'd done that.  I bit the bullet, hoped the woman on the other side of the door to my left wouldn't mind, clicked on the "answer" button, and said hello.

A deep voice not immediately recognizable came back through the other end.  "Hello, is this the Weinstein's."

"Yes," I responded, my curiosity peaked.

"Oh hey Lisa, it's George.  I got a new cell phone and I had this number and I wasn't sure if this was your's or Bob's," came the voice of the man at the other end of the line.

So now that I had determined the caller's identity, a handyman who often did work around the house, I became absolute in my desire to prevent him from learning that I spoke to him whilst sitting atop a porcelain throne.  I wanted to give him my husband Bob's cell phone number as quickly as possible and get him off the phone before any "bathroom" noises gave my position away.

"Please don't flush," I whispered in my head to the woman in the next stall, hoping she had telepathic powers.  "Please don't flush.  Please don't flush.  Please don't flush"

I started giving George the correct phone number for Bob when I realized that the lady to the left did not exhibit the ability to read minds.


If George heard the distinctive sound of the water swishing down the pipes, he at least had the good sense to not let on....and I will never know since I certainly will NEVER ask him.  (I can just imagine the next time the guy is here cleaning the gutters.  "Hey George, y'know I was on the can when you called! HAHAHAHAH!") No.

Thankfully, George took Bob's number and promptly ended the call.  I put my phone away and sat on the throne for a few long minutes after I had completed my business, waiting for the lady to the left to leave, lest she learn the identity of the "toilet talker".

Later that day, I shared the tale with a co-worker who joined me in laughter as I relived the embarrassing incident.  Just then, another co-worker quiently got up from her desk, walked over to join us, and, with a sheepish look on her face, practically whispered, "Lisa, that was me."

At this point, instead of wanting to dig a hole and jump in upon learning the identity of the lady to the left, I simply roared with renewed laughter, my co-workers joining in, including my bathroom-mate!

So, if your cell phone rang while you were "conducting business", what would you do? Would you answer?  If this has ever happened to you, please share!!

If you like my stories I'd love to know, please comment below or "like" my blog's Facebook page!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Middle School Graduation

Weird, strange, or terrifying dreams are, unfortunately, not an uncommon occurrence during the overnight hours, however, rarely do these dreams result in deep-rooted reflection.  In fact, more often than not, I barely remember the involved plot twists that take place as I toss and turn.

Yet, every so often, a dream will come along that hits at the core of my raw emotions and stays with me, emblazoned in my memory where I am forced to relive the nocturnal tale again and again.  A few weeks ago, I experienced such a dream, born, I am sure, out of a desperate desire to hold back time and keep my 14-year old daughter Melissa with me forever.

Thinking of Melissa's infant and toddler years always conjures a sad smile, full of delight at the precious child who remained attached to me 24 hours a day....and of the melancholy notion that those long ago treasured moments only remain alive through memories.

In my dream, my beautiful, 14-year old daughter became an infant again.  However, instead of joy at being able to relive her baby years, I experienced a sense of devastation and grief that is quite difficult to explain.   In this night-time world were things seemed so real, I came face-to-face with the realization that I would have to raise her all over, and that I would not lay eyes on my wonderful daughter for another 14, incredibly long years.

I would not see Melissa for 14 years.


I woke with a start from the dream, and glanced at the clock, which told me only a few hours had elapsed since my head hit the pillow.  My husband Bob snored contented by my side, and all seemed....well, normal.  But yet, I had to check, I had to be sure.  I tiptoed into Melissa's bedroom, only to find her curled in a comfy ball, under four layers of covers, our cat snoozing happily by her side.

I let out a sigh of relief.

Although I will always miss the early years with my baby, my strange dream reinforced that clocks cannot be rewound...... and nor do I want them to be.  For I so treasure the phenomenal person my daughter has become and I want to hold onto who she is now, right now!

Last week marked an amazing milestone for my Melissa!  She donned a white gown and joined her classmates in the march to Pomp and Circumstance as they said their goodbyes to the middle school years.  After the ceremony, we took photos of Melissa and her friends, laughing, joking, and making memories to catch in a bottle to take out and relive as I pass through each stage of her life.

No longer do I long for days gone by, but rather, I relish each moment of the gift God gave me, my precious, 14-year old daughter.  Melissa, I love who you are, who you have become, and who you are destined to be.

If you enjoy my stories, please let me know by sharing your comments below or liking my Facebook page!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I Weigh HOW MUCH!!

During my pregnancy 15 years ago, I experienced tremendous difficulty keeping any type of nourishment in my body for more than a few minutes.  A range of treatments, ranging from wrist bands (don't let anyone tell you that they work), to medication, and finally, to IV therapy, kept me on the couch watching daytime TV for the better part of four months.

When the fog finally lifted and I discovered that food could actually travel through my digestive system without making a return trip, I celebrated with a host of highly nutritional items that would certainly benefit both my baby and me.  I am talking, of course, about the vitamin-packed extra large 7-11 Slurpee, chocolate donuts, milkshakes, and, for toppers, an entire box of oreo cookies!

Eventually, Melissa decided she had had enough "nutritional" food, and she begged to leave the tiny place she had called home for nine months.  So out she came, on July 1, 1997 - also known as the day I stopped eating all of that "good for you" food, and focused on losing the baby weight....NOT.  For some reason, even though my body no longer played host to another person, emotionally, I still longed for any and all excuses to eat for two, or three, or 12.  As a result, two years after my daughter entered the world, I weighed more than I ever had.  But the unfortunate trip back to reality came during a work day when someone asked me if I was, "expanding my family".

NOTE TO ALL READERS:  Do not ever, ever, ask a woman if she is pregnant, unless you can visibly see a child emerging from her innards!

The offending comment, coupled with my husband Bob's recent diabetes diagnosis, gave us both the kick in the pants we needed to take control of our health.

A few days later, Bob and I found ourselves sitting in the office of a local nutritionist.  She promised to  help Bob develop an eating plan that fit into his lifestyle, and assured him that this disease could, indeed, be controlled.  After Bob stepped on the scale and the nutritionist recorded his weight, she briefly left the room to get some booklets for us to read.

I gave the scale a look of pure loathing, knowing that it stood there, taunting me, just daring me to step on.   I took off my shoes (every ounce helps) and timidly placed one foot on the dreaded apparatus, then the other.  In the meantime, I tuned out the nutritionist, who had come back into the room and resumed chatting with Bob, so that I could focus on the horror awaiting me.  Not content to rely on a cheap bathroom scale, the nutritionist made sure her victims  patients stepped on the "oh so accurate" doctor's office-type scale.

I had made it this far.  Now I only had to move the metal bar so that I could get an accurate confirmation that I had, indeed, evolved into an elephant.  I slid the bar to the number I thought might be accurate.  Nope.  I slid it over some more.  Nope.  Ok, a few pounds more.  Nope.  With mounting anxiety that my status had moved beyond elephant and into the killer whale category, I slid the bar over even more.  NOPE!

At this point, with sheer terror in my heart, I turned around to face the nutritionist and screamed,


That is when I looked down to discover my husband's foot, strategically placed on the scale, diabolically adding those extra pounds.

He took pure joy in his practical joke, even though for those brief, terrifying moments I had been convinced I had become the largest person on the planet.


Not a jury in the land would have convicted me.

Wait, let me rephrase that.

Not an all female jury in the land would have convicted me, right ladies?

Happily, Bob and I both followed the nutritionist's advice, and 12 months later, had returned to a healthy weight.  In in the intervening years, we have watched the numbers on the scale seesaw too many times to count.  In this ongoing struggle, whenever I get up the courage to get an accurate picture of my weight, I make sure....absolutely sure, that before getting on the scale, my husband is nowhere in sight!

If you like my stories, please tell me by leaving a comment below!  Thank you for visiting!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Random Act of Kindness

A few weeks ago, one of my friends woke up on a typical Saturday morning, intent to spend quality time with her 10 year old daughter by taking her to a popular luncheon spot.  Unbeknownst to her, by the time the sun completed its daily journey through the summer sky, she would be much wealthier for her actions that day.  No, she did not defy statistically impossible odds and earn her place on the list of lottery winners, but she did gain something almost (or even more) valuable....a new friend.

Seems my friend took notice of an elderly woman eating alone at the table next to her in the restaurant.  Saddened by the woman's plight, my friend decided on the spur of the moment to perform a random act of kindness, and she paid for the lonely customer's lunch.  In return, she received the woman's unbelievable gratitude, as well as her company for the remainder of her meal.  She learned a great deal about the woman, and by the time they parted ways, each felt a tremendous sense of compassion, kindness and empathy from the other... a feeling that cannot be purchased, no matter what the wealth of the intended buyer.

Since learning of my friend's generosity, I became determined to imitate her charitable spirit, as soon as the perfect moment presented itself.  Last Friday, the perfect moment presented itself!

In preparation for our weekend visit to Raleigh, North Carolina for my nephew's graduation party, My husband Bob decided he would place his "Starvation Plus Package Plan" diet on hold for three days.  Not intent to wait for Saturday morning to begin his binge, he decided to let loose at dinner on the way to the airport.  Yes, two slices of pizza would surely prove to be a great start to his self-imposed "don't diet" weekend.

After Bob, my 14-year old daughter Melissa and I took our seats and placed our order, the conversation turned to our much-anticipated weekend and the excitement of spending time with relatives who we had not seen in over a year.  As the waiter placed our pizza on the table, I noticed an elderly lady take a seat in the booth next to us.  I glanced at the door, expecting to see someone join her, but alas, nobody appeared, and after five minutes or so, I had to conclude she had come to eat all alone.

"I feel so bad for that lady, she's all by herself," I said to Bob and Melissa, who glanced over at the lonely diner but said no more.

I began to form an imaginary scenario about this woman, and the events in her life that had led her to dine alone in a Pizza Hut.  She glanced at a piece of paper in her hand, something that looked like it could be an amateur program, the kind that boasts elementary school chorus concerts or church fashion shows.  I thought that perhaps she had stopped on her journey to see a grandchild perform, and maybe she had left too early and needed to while away some time.

I began to formulate my "random act of kindness" plan, and, I admit, I felt uncertain, strange, nervous, weird.  How would this woman react?  How would my family react?

I decided to keep my plans quiet, and nonchalantly excused myself to go to the rest room.  Afterwards, I stopped at the register and asked who had waited on the woman.  I told the server that I wanted to pay for her meal, and asked him to keep my "random act of kindness" confidential until we had safely exited the building.

Once back at my table, Bob, whose back had been to the register, did not show any indication of witnessing my actions.  Melissa, however, asked what I had been doing.  I told her I'd tell her when we left the restaurant.   She smiled and said, "I think I know."

With satisfied bellies, we made our way back to the car and resumed our journey to the airport.  I turned to Melissa and said, "So, what do you think I was doing at the register?"

"You paid for that lady's meal, didn't you?" she asked in reply.

"How did you know that mommy was going to pay for her meal," asked Bob.

"Because," she said matter-of-factly in response to her father's question, "it's what I would have done."

Now, I will be the first to admit, the $4.59 charge for the lady's meal did not break the bank.  What's more, I know there are millions of people all over the world who dedicate their lives to helping others, so my actions were certainly not deserving of a Nobel Prize.  However, knowing my "random act of kindness" inspired my daughter to, if given the chance, mimic my actions..........PRICELESS!

Please let me know if you like my stories - your comments inspire me!!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Character Breakfast

This morning, a brilliant blue sky greeted our family, a welcome sight after severe storms shook the area the night before.  My husband Bob and I made our way to our town's quaint Main Street, where the annual wine and arts festival drew people from all over the area to browse among the dozens of exhibitors displaying their wares , while savoring vintage reds and whites courtesy of local, home grown vineyards.

Bob and I found a small cafe offering outdoor seating, and, after finding a cozy corner in the shade, made ourselves comfortable and sat watching the scores of people out enjoying the simple beauty of a perfect, sunny day.

A local radio station had come for the festivities, complete with their mascot, a "Bee", which was, in reality, a person dressed in a bee costume, a secret carefully kept hidden from the dozens of children who followed him (or her) down Main Street.

The scene conjured up images of our own child, now 14, and her long ago love of life-size animals. Melissa's first experience meeting a "character" came during her first visit to Disney World at the tender age of four.  Weeks in advance, Bob made breakfast reservation at a restaurant called Chef Mickey's, where the world's most famous "character" himself, along with his closest friends, personally greeted their star-struck fans of all ages.

Like a well oiled machine, the restaurant staff (called cast members) ushered in guests, invited each family to pose for a photo, and then escorted moms, dads, and wide-eyes kids into a line, where they waited anxiously for their chance to meet Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto.

When our turn came, we whipped out our camera and snapped photo after photo of our precious cherub receiving hugs from her heroes.  She stared at them in awe, unable to look away, much the same way I might react if Paul McCartney himself stood before me.

The next step in the well oiled machine involved following the cast member hostess to our table, where, she assured, we would be visited again by Mickey and gang.  However, Melissa did not want to follow the plan.  She continued to stare in awe, hoping for another hug.  Unfortunately for my baby girl, the "characters" had moved on to hugging other children, and now professed to ignore my baby, who continued to stare at them in wonder.

Finally, we pulled our star struck daughter away from the "celebrities" and dragged her to the table.

Thus began Melissa's devotion to Donald, Mickey, and all other forms of "characters", whether they represented restaurants (Can you say Chuck E Cheese - the world's most aggravating place to attend a birthday party), baseball teams, or simply appeared as a guest at a local street fair.  In fact, Bob once spent the entire nine innings of a minor league baseball game carrying Melissa around the stadium while chasing down "Sparky" the team's canine character mascot, all so his daughter could get a hug.

Melissa's fascination with "characters" began to wane slightly with each passing year, until finally, one day, when we spotted a "character" at a local restaurant and I encouraged her to go over and say hi, she replied, "Mom, it's just some guy dressed up in a costume."

Wait.  What?

Take knife and insert into heart.

The magical world where "characters" came to life no longer existed in the eyes of my child, now old enough to know better.


As the preteen years evolved into the full onslaught of teen-world, Melissa continued to distance herself from "characters", even when her goober parents insisted on posing for photos with "guys in costumes", an act deemed unbelievably uncool by her teenage standards!  However, last year, while planning another trip to Disney, Bob, once again, made reservations at Chef Mickey's.  Melissa tried to act nonchalant as we stood in line, had our mandatory photo taken, and followed the cast member to our table.  Finally, after we had piled our plates with pastries, pancakes, waffles, cereal, eggs, and fruit (calories don't count in Disney), music started to play and out came Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto, making their way to each table, ready to make children's dreams come true.

I didn't say anything, but glanced over at my offspring.  Against her teenage will, her face lit up, and she proclaimed out loud, "MICKY!"

Then, when the world's most memorable mouse made his way to our table, he wrapped his arms around her in a loving embrace, while she giggled uncontrollably, abandoning all pretense.  We took turns posing with Mickey, then watched regretfully as he moved to the next table.  I still held my tongue, worried that if I dared to savor the moment, Melissa would insist it was no big deal.  But I knew it was, indeed, a very big deal.

She may be 14, and too cool for "characters", but I know, deep down, the magic lives on!
"Like" my blog's Facebook page by clicking the link at the top right side of this blog!

Comments and feedback are encouraged and welcome. For some reason, many people have told me they have left a comment, but it has not appeared. To leave a comment, click on the arrow next to "comment as", then choose "anonymous". If you would like to include your name, please leave your name in the body of your post. Once you have posted your comment and chosen anonymous, then hit publish. Check the page the make sure your comment appeared. You can also "Like" my blog's Facebook page and comment there - like button is on the upper right side of this page.