Sunday, September 30, 2012


This week’s blog is a bit of a departure from my usual style.  I saw a movie yesterday, and, at the request of a friend, wrote a review which I am now happy to share with you.

Review – The Perks of Being a Wallflower
(Rated PG-13 - sex, drugs, mild profanity, and adult themes that may be difficult for children under 13 to understand)

As the opening frames of the movie adaptation of Stephen Chbosky’s novel roll across the screen, audience members are immediately duped into thinking they are going to see a typical tale of teen angst.  There’s the shy freshman loner, the openly gay class clown, the football star and resident bully,  the shoplifter, the punk rocker, and of course, the sweet, pretty girl who is forever relegated into the “just friends” category.

However, as the movie progresses and the clich├ęd outer layers of the characters are peeled away, the audience begins to embrace the world of these adolescents who are full of love, fear, uncertainty, and unabashed emotional pain.

At the center of the film is Charlie, brought to life in a controlled, yet heart-wrenching performance by Logan Lerman, best known for playing the lead in Percy Jackson and the Olympians.    We understand that Charlie is painfully shy, however, the audience is only permitted a limited understanding of how deep that pain flows as brief flashbacks offer clues to his traumatic childhood.

An upper middle class Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania suburb in the early 1990s provides the back drop for this tale, however, neither the place nor the decade are particularly relevant.  Trapped in the shadow of his college football star brother and a high school senior sister who ignores her freshman sibling, Charlie finds solace sitting alone at a cafeteria lunch table, hiding behind the safety and anonymity of a book. 

As the story unfolds, Charlie is welcomed as family into a group of misfit high school seniors.  There is Patrick, (Ezra Miller), whose class clown antics hide the pain of being in a homosexual relationship that he is unable to share with the world; punk rocker and Buddhist Mary Elizabeth, (Mae Whitman), whose feelings for Charlie extend beyond friendship; and Sam, the girl who is the object of his seemingly unrequited love, played beautifully by Emma Watson, whose performance makes the audience forget she roamed the halls of Hogwarts for 10 years.  Watson brings her own brand of magic to Sam, a girl who makes bad choices, yet values the deep roots of love and friendship above all else. 

The film takes us through Charlie’s freshman year, as he develops a profound bond with this band of self-described misfits, and we share his reactions to those adolescent “rights of passage” such as sex, drugs, and a longing to fit in and belong.

As we learn the reasons for Charlie’s intense emotional pain, we also discover his “real” family – the parents and siblings he has pushed away, truly love him as much as his “adopted” family – his new found friends. 

We laugh as he laughs, cry as he cries and celebrate a beautiful story of a teenage boy who finally learns to break free from the darkness of his childhood and learn to trust the love of  family and friends.

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

Sunday, September 23, 2012

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."

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

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Eleven Years Ago....

Last Tuesday I woke up to greet a southern New Jersey morning in all its September glory.  The humidity that had plagued our region for weeks on end had finally given way to the cool, crisp air that signals the start of autumn.  Abundant sunshine, a slight breeze, and barely a wisp of clouds, coupled with temperatures hovering in the high 70s made me yearn to spend the day outdoors.

In meteorological terms, we had stumbled upon a picture perfect day.  Much like the weather that had greeted an eerily similar Tuesday morning, 11 years ago, on September 11, 2001.

When a colleague arrived a few minutes after 9 am to the hospital public relations office where I worked, she shared some troubling news.  Seems a plane had hit the World Trade Center in New York City, located less than an hour away.

My first reaction?  Honestly, I don't recall, but I know that I would not describe it as surprise.  I, like many others on that day, naturally assumed a small engine plane had veered of course, and, with a building so tall, a tragic accident such as this seemed inevitable.

I called my husband Bob at his home office.  Like me, he had not yet comprehended the magnitude of the events that were yet to unfold.  Citing his busy schedule and an upcoming meeting, he said he'd call me back.

A few minutes later, another co-worker came in to share the unbelievable truth.  Another plane had struck the World Trade Center.  

This could not be an accident.

This could not be random.

We were under attack.

We walked the short distance down the hall where several people had gathered around a television housed in the physician's lounge.   As the news replayed the searing image of a jet plane making sickening contact with the building, we gasped in horror.

I recall my emotions in vivid detail as I watched the moment of impact.  Anger.  Anger that whoever flew plane number one into the building wanted to make sure that TV news cameras were fixed on the World Trade Center so that the world could witness, live, in vivid, heartbreaking detail, the shock of plane number two. 

First New York City.

Then Washington, DC.

A field in rural Pennsylvania.

Where would the terrorists strike next?

We were at war.

With a growing sense of dread and urgency, I irrationally longed to crawl under my desk and hide, as if the terrorist planes could not find me there.   Instead I tried to call Bob again, and, much to my dismay, could not get through.  Panicked, I needed to tell him to pick up our innocent four-year old daughter Melissa from day care.  For, once again, I held onto the irrational belief that the terrorists would surely find her at Kiddie Academy, but she'd be safe at home.

What's more, my inherited daughter Jessica, at the beginning of what has evolved into a successful career in political and grassroots advocacy, had been in New York on that beautiful Tuesday morning working on a local election.  We were somewhat sure that her destination did not involve the World Trade Center, but still....unbridled fear filled our hears.

When I finally reached Bob, he agreed to "rescue" Melissa from day care.  He spent the rest of the day fielding calls from worried friends and family who, knowing of Jessica's plans, needed the reassurance that Bob could not yet give, for we had not heard a word....we could not get through.

At the hospital public relations office, we discarded the routine of a typical Tuesday as we drafted statements for the media, responded to hundreds of callers wishing to donate blood, and watched as the towers came crumbling down.

By 2 pm, a bright glimmer of light flickered during this unnaturally dark day.  Jessica had called.  Tucked away in Brooklyn, she had observed the events of the day from the other side of the East River.  Horrified and shaken, she was, nonetheless, safe.

I'm not sure what time I finally left my office on that day.  During the drive home, the streets were eerily quiet, thanks to the recently imposed state of emergency in New Jersey.   I desperately wanted to turn on the news, to find out the latest, to get answers to the questions that now plagued an entire globe.  However, I refrained from situating myself in front of the television and instead,  gave my daughter the rare treat of eating her macaroni and cheese in the living room while our TV played the well worn Disney classic Beauty and the Beast.  Images of death and destruction filled every void that day, but I'd be damned if I'd let my four-year old witness footage of people choosing between a blazing inferno or a fall from 100 stories high.

During the surreal days that followed, while the realization that our world had forever changed slowly took hold, I found solace in the innocence of my beautiful daughter.  While shielding the horrors of September 11 from her, I subsequently shielded myself as well.  I took comfort in her sweetness, her smile, her delight, her routine, her likes, her dislikes, and her complete ignorance of her changing world.  Perhaps, in holding onto her innocence, I tried to hold onto the notion that things could still be the same.

A planned trip to Disney World two day after September 11 had to subsequently be cancelled.  We told Melissa the pilot had become sick, and, with the complete trust that a preschooler instinctively bestows upon her parents, she believed our tall tale.

I'm not sure how many years passed before we finally came clean about the pilot, the airplane, or the horrible events of that terrible Tuesday morning.  When we did talk about it, we made sure to explain in terms she could understand.....even though the events of that day were still beyond terms we could understand.

Three months after September 11, 2001, Bob, Melissa, Jessica, and I visited the famous Rockefeller Center in New York City.  Thousands of tourists had the same idea, as we braved the cold and the crowds to get a better look at what was perhaps the largest and most beautiful Christmas tree I had ever seen.  Despite my claustrophobic dislike of being surrounded by so many individuals, I couldn't help but feel a strong sense of satisfaction.   We were all there, in New York City, thousands strong, determined......and unafraid.

The terrorist did not win.

Life went on.

If you like my stories, feel free to leave a comment below.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The First Day of High School

"A" my name is Alice
and my husband's name is Alan
we live in Alabama
where we sell apples

"B" my name is Betty
and my husband's name is Ben
we live in Boston
were we sell bananas

And so on it went, from A to Z.

Three teenagers in the back seat of the car, rehashing a childhood game in an effort to pass the hour-long ride home from the beach.  With the knowledge that my daughter Melissa preferred we didn't exist, my husband Bob and I resisted the urge to listen, to laugh, and to shout out suggestions.

As we continued on our effortless and (shockingly) traffic-free journey, the rhythmic sound of wheels on road, coupled with the innocent giggles emanating from the back seat, lulled me into a dream-like state where I floated back in time.  There I stood in my kitchen, holding a ball in my hands.  A blue, basketball-sized ball, much softer than the professional version but with a sure and steady ability to bounce its way across the tiled floor.   My six-year old Melissa had picked it from among dozens that had been stuffed into a six foot cage in the middle of the supermarket, just beckoning children to bounce them all over the store.  For a few dollars I figured, "why not?".

As a stood in my kitchen with my eager young offspring watching in wonder, I taught her a new game, bouncing the ball as I uttered each syllable.

"A" my name is Alice
and my husband's name is Alan
we live in Alabama
where we sell apples

"I want to try mommy, I want to try!" she squealed.

I handed her the ball.  With hand and eye coordination not quite perfected, Melissa tried her best to bounce the ball while thinking of things that started with the letter "B".  After running after the ball several times, and a wee bit of help from her parents, she happily allowed her mommy to have a turn.

And so on it went, from A to Z.

Nine years later.

"H" my name is Helen
and my husband's name is Harry
we come from Houston
where we sell um, um, um

"Hats!" shouted Melissa in an effort to help her friend Sarah.
"Horses!" shouted teenager number three, Melissa's friend John
"Hoses!" I chimed in, unable to help myself.
"Um.....um.....ummm," struggled Sarah, not wanting to take any suggestions and determined to think of something to sell beginning with the letter "H" completely on her own.

Finally, with an air of triumph, Sarah shouted, "Houses!"

And so on it went, from A to Z.

In three more days, the three teenagers in the back seat of my car would be entering that building where childhood is checked at the door.  Yes, my daughter and her friends were going to start high school.  If they had been nervous, their fear didn't show during the drive home from the shore.

"N" my name is Nancy
and my husband's name is Ned
we come from Nebraska 
where we sell napkins.

They had taken it upon themselves to hold onto their innocence, and from my invisible position in the front seat of the car, I relished every last moment.  For I knew in a few short days, a whole new world of wonder, uncertainty, and fear awaited them.   Would they get lost on the first day?  Would they miss the bus?  Would they handle the increased and much more challenging course work?  Would their hearts get broken? Would they succumb to the taunts of bullies?  Would they be tempted by alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs?

"R" my name is Robin 
and my husband's name is Ralph
we come from Rhode Island
where we sell roller skates

Would they stay so young, so carefree, so innocent?  Three teenagers, laughing through a childhood game learned so long ago?

Three days later, Melissa awakened at 5:45 in the morning, styled her hair to perfection, and made sure her clothes were just right.  Then she reluctantly stood in the same kitchen where I taught her how to bounce a ball so many years ago, and allowed me to capture the moment through the miracle of  smart phone photography.

As she walked down the street towards the corner bus stop, she turned her head and signaled for me to go in the house, not to watch, she'd be just fine.  I made my way back through the front door, then immediately turned and ran to the car, jumped in and drove to the end of my driveway, craning my neck and squinting my eyes in an effort to see down to the corner.

Too far to get a glimpse, I conceded defeat.

Back in the house, as I poured my coffee, it suddenly occurred to me.  The smart phone!

Not quite an expert in the art of texting, I painstakingly tapped out the brief message, "R u on the bus yet?"

I waited a few anguished moments before the phone let out the familiar "ding" alerting me to her reply.

"Yes we r almost there"

"Great have a fun day" I texted back, trying to show some emotional restraint.

"I love you" came her reply.

And with that, I smiled,  as some....not all.....but some of my fears washed away.

"L" my name is Lisa
and my husband's name is Bob
we come from New Jersey
where we're the proud parents of a high school freshman

Yes, Melissa was going to be just fine.

If you like my stories please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Lisa Wins the Liebster 

When I first started blogging a mere nine months ago, I had no idea that the simple act of putting a few words together into tales of  motherhood, marriage, and middle age would inspire so many people to read my work.  What's more, I could not even begin to anticipate the incredible feeling of satisfaction and pride that would flow through my veins each time I hit the publish button on a brand new post.

For, you see, my blog has become my "baby" of a sort.  It is one of the few things in this world I can truly call my own...one of the few things that allow me complete and absolute creative control.   Therefore, when a fellow blogger bestowed upon me not one, but three blogging awards, I felt such a deep sense of gratitude for her kindness.  In sharing this honor, she reaffirmed for me that my "baby" is worthwhile, and worth sharing.

The Liebster Award

Awarded by: Chris Dean from Life Your Way
Chris uses unabashed humor to cope with many challenges in her life, including chronic illness.  You'll love her stories, please check her out!

Why: The Liebster Blog Award is given to blogs with fewer than 200 followers.  Liebster is German for "beloved" and a blog nomination for this award is "worth watching".

Rules: Answer one question, and link back to the awesome person who nominated you!

Question: Chocolate or vanilla?  Until recently, chocolate ruled, but I have found that mixing the two together creates a tantalizing treat for the taste buds.  So now I'll say....BOTH!

The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award
AND
The Inspiring Blog Award

Awarded by: Chris Dean from Life Your Way

Rules:

1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back.
2. Tell everyone seven things about yourself
3. Nominate seven bloggers

Thank you Chris!  Your wit and wisdom is an inspiration to me!  I am so honored that you have chosen to honor my work.

Now, I present you with seven interesting and fun facts about me that I have not already shared in this blog.  Here goes....

1. In my older years, for reasons unknown, I have developed a fear of heights to add to my claustrophobia.  What this means is that you will never, ever, see me on a ferris wheel!

2. I am the resident "bug killer" in my house.  When my 15-year old daughter's blood curdling screams alert me to the presence of a 10-foot spider (technically not a bug, I know) in her bedroom, super-mom comes immediately to the rescue.  Just give me a shoe and BAM, Mr. Killer Insect won't stand a chance!  (For those who remember my recent post where I describe my reaction to finding a bee in my car, let me say for the record that I lose my bravery when confronted with insects while confined to a moving vehicle)

3. At the age of 10, my parents took me to my first concert, John Denver.  (The Starland Vocal Band opened for John Denver...who remembers them?!)  My second concert - Elton John!  (Much cooler!)

4. Many people know about my Harry Potter obsession, but I will also admit I'm a Trekkie!  Not the original series, mind you - it's Next Generation all the way for me!

5. I have always dreamed of being a Tony Award winning Broadway singer.  Of course, there's a tiny problem with this fantasy....I can't sing in key.  Bob and Melissa try to teach me but, alas, I'm a hopeless case.  So I clam up and live vicariously through Melissa, who inherited Bob's natural musical ability and took it to ever greater heights!

6. Favorite candy: Swedish fish!

7. My biggest vice is diet coke, I drink umpteen glasses a day, and as a result, my most frequented room is furnished with a toilet.

My seven nominees!

Drum roll please!  The moment you've all been waiting for!  The seven blogs who are worthy of this wonderful way to pay it forward.

1. Kathy from My Dishwasher's Possessed
2. Cindy from Everyday Underwear
3. Jennifer from Kvetch Mom
4. Melissa from The Betty and Boo Chronicles
5. Monica from Monica's Tangled Web
6. Melissa from A Wide Line
7. June from The Neurosis Files

I hope you enjoy the work of my fellow bloggers, and to everyone out there who has visited my page, I share my deepest gratitude!  Thank you for helping me to do something I love...share a piece of myself through my words.

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