Monday, July 22, 2013

Taylor Swift and Broken Cars and Lightening Storms...Oh My!

Horror movies? Not my thing.

Not so for my husband Bob.  He thoroughly embraces the horror movie experience, reveling in the suspense and marveling at the special effects. However, by the time the credits roll, Bob pushes the imaginary "delete"  button in his brain, rendering the movie null and void. In other words, it's completely vanquished from his mind, and he simply moves on to the next movie or TV watching experience.

As for me, on the rare occasion I do sneak a peek at a horror movie, you'll find me curled up in bed in a fetal position for weeks on end, thumb in mouth.  Why? Because for me, horror movies are REAL!

Therefore, I do not actively seek out horror movies, leaving Bob to watch them alone, or find others who share his strange enjoyment of being scared to death.

So, on Saturday night, as my 16-year old daughter Melissa and I prepared to spend the evening hanging with Taylor Swift, Bob made the brief journey to the next town over to pick up "our" boys (my dear friend Angelica's sons Chris, 16 and Brandon, 14) who were enthusiastically willing to participate in the horror flick experience!

In the meantime, Melissa and I climbed into our "secondary" car, an 8-year old, boat-sized Mercury Marquis with nearly 100,000 miles under its belt.

I gave Melissa full radio control, and, getting into the concert spirit, we sang our hearts out during the 40 minute drive from our suburban home in southern New Jersey across the bridge to Philadelphia and our final destination,  Lincoln Financial Field, a huge football stadium affectionately known by the locals as "The Linc".

Tonight, The Linc would play temporary host to Taylor Swift and her opening act, singer Ed Sheeran. Bob had surprised Melissa with the tickets nearly six months ago, and now that only a few hours remained until the concert, we couldn't hide our excitement.

I know. I am a 48-year old middle-aged woman, but YES! I admit it! I like Taylor Swift!

As we approached the concert venue, we joined approximately 50,000 cars all vying to get the best spots inside the limited parking facilities.  I vowed to stay calm as traffic ground to a halt, and continued to enjoy the time with my daughter.  Finally, after what seemed like 21 years, we inched our way into the lot, paid the outrageous $30 parking fee, (A few choice words shattered my calm as I prepared to part with the cash) and found the perfect spot to leave our car for the evening.

Or so I thought.

I put the gear shift into park, and prepared to turn off the engine...however, the car continued to inch forward. Perplexed, I slammed my foot on the brake and the movement stopped.  Slowly, I lifted my foot off the brake and sure enough, the car resumed its forward motion.

A bit panicked now, I employed the use of the emergency brake and pulled the key out of the ignition.

The car stood still.

Melissa and I cautiously got out, only to discover that because of the car's mysterious forward movement, the Mercury Marquis had come to rest too far outside of the designated parking space. I jumped back behind the wheel and put the key in the ignition, while Melissa waited outside.

Once again, I could only describe my emotions as perplexed as I wondered why Melissa held up her hand, signaling for me to stop moving. I had done nothing to make the car move, yet it slowly inched backwards this time, seemingly of its own accord.

I slammed on the brake, bringing my possessed vehicle to a halt.  Sure enough, when I removed my foot, much to my horror the car resumed going backwards.  I again turned to the safety of the emergency brake, which seemed the only means of controlling the ghosts and goblins that had surely taken residence under the hood.

I attempted to start the ignition, but turning the key produced zero results.

My demon-car had the ability to move forward and backward on its own, yet decided it would not let me start the engine!

Clearly it was time to perform an exorcism call in the big guns, the expert, the big kahuna...Bob!

Meanwhile, unaware that Melissa and I were experiencing our own horror movie - Bob, Chris, and Brandon were killing time at the mall until it was time to see their own horror movie.

In response to my call of sheer panic, Bob assured me that he and the boys would abandon their plans and drive immediately to The Linc to investigate the situation. He told us to go in and see the show, to have a good time, and not to worry.

Easier said than done.

Had my car not waited until we had parked to reveal its demon side and acted out while travelling 65 MPH on the expressway, we could have been in serious danger. My daughter, my baby, the love of my life, my reason for living.  If something had happened to her...

I couldn't finish the thought.

Instead I focused my energies on joining the throngs of moms, daughters, tweens, and teens making their way into the stadium. I tried to concentrate on the show, but my mind stayed on Bob, and the car, and our transportation home.

Once we had hiked up the 2,972 stairs that led to our upper level seats, I sent Bob and the boys text after text after text that went unanswered, thanks to the lousy reception in The Linc, which only served to magnify my frustration!

As Melissa happily turned her attention to Ed Sheeran, I stole glances at my cell every three seconds, hoping for an update from Bob.  After an achingly long hour, my "Night in Shining Armor" ensured me the car had been towed, he would take Chris and Brandon home, and then come back to The Linc to safely escort his girls back to New Jersey.  He also emphatically told me to enjoy the show.

So I took his advice and kept my worries at bay..... until I looked at the sky.

Ominous clouds had gathered on the horizon, while the occasional flash of lightening signaled the approach of an impending storm.

It is important to note at this point in my tale that The Linc is an outdoor stadium.


Suddenly, a voice came over the public address system blaring a message I could not hear thanks to the screams of the tweens who mistakenly thought they were listening to an introduction to Taylor.
Fortunately, the message repeated over and over and over again.

"The national weather service has issued a severe thunder storm warning. We are expecting heavy rain, wind, and lightening.  Please leave your seats and take cover in the stadium concourse. We will inform you when it is safe to return to your seats."

Melissa and I made our way down the 2,972 stairs and claimed our spot among the thousands of moms, daughters, tweens, and teens who now occupied the stadium concourse.

While the snack bar employees helped pass the time by playing Taylor Swift music for the crowd, we stared out at the incredible spectacle unfolding before our eyes. Lightening strikes of epic proportion invaded the sky, creating unstoppable sparks of jagged, electric beauty...nature's own spectacular strobe light.

Then came the rains, and the wind, coupled with sounds of little girls screaming in response to the thunder.


Ten minutes ticked away. Then 15....25...35....

Tired of standing, we joined a number of other moms, daughters, tweens, and teens who decided to simply sit right there on the concourse floor.

Five more minutes ticked by.

Would the rain ever stop?

Ten more minutes.

Would the concert be cancelled?

Fifteen more minutes.

People were getting to their feet!

Could it be!?

Could the rain have stopped?

Would the show go on!?


At 10:45 pm, two hours later than planning, Taylor Swift finally greeted her Philadelphia fans!

Fast forward 90 minutes. Amid a dazzling display of fireworks, Taylor belted out the last note to her hit single "We are Never Getting Back Together", took a bow, and left the screaming crowd to navigate their way out of the stadium. (The show was very good, I might add)

Once again, Melissa and I joined the throngs of moms and daughters and tweens and teens into the concourse, down the stairs and out into the midnight air, where a slight drizzle was all that remained of the earlier storm.

Our next task at hand....find Bob among what seemed like the entire population of North America.

With one hand holding the cell to my ear and the other trying to grab Melissa's hand so we wouldn't get separated (she refused take my hand, she is 16 after all - there was a principle to uphold here) we pushed our way through the throngs of moms, daughters, tweens, and teens, all walking in 27 different directions.

In the meantime, my cell conversation with Bob went something like this:

Bob: "I am parked on Darien Avenue, you have to walk about a half a mile."

Me: "What!"

Bob: "Just keep walking on Darien"

Me: "I am on Darien, where are you."

Bob: "I'm on Darien, keep walking."

Me: "Are you on the left or right side of the street?"

Bob: "The left side."

I grab Melissa's hand as we shoved 32 moms and daughters out of the way in our mad dash to get to the other side of the street.

Me: "Ok, I'm on the other side."

Bob: "Stay right there, I'm coming to get you."

Me: "WHAT?"

Bob: "Stay right there on Darien, on the right side."

Me: "WHAT?"

Bob: "I'm driving up on the right side, stay there."

Me: "I'm not on the right side I'm on the left side!"

Bob: "WHAT?"

By what can only be categorized as divine intervention, Melissa and I finally saw the familiar headlights of our car, my "Night in Shining Armor" tucked safely behind the wheel, ready to whisk us home.

As soon as we climbed in I took one look at Bob and knew something was terribly wrong. Sure enough, when we arrived at our house in the wee hours of the morning, the thermometer confirmed my hero had a 102 degree fever.

I took off my concert-goer hat and replaced it with my caregiver hat, nursing my man back to health.

Two days later, the car's still in the shop and my man is still sick.  If anyone needs me I'll be a fetal position...thumb in mouth...

Melissa at the Taylor Swift concert! Great show, despite the 2-hour rain delay and our broken down car!!

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Mommy Can I Have a Dog?

The story below was my first official blog post in January, 2012, before I had any followers. Since I'm suffering from horrible writer's block, I thought it was a good time to run it again. I originally wrote this story when my now 16-year old asked for a dog at the age of six.  Although I don't write about it in this blog, our dog sadly, passed away soon after she entered our life.  

“Mommy, can I have a dog?” 

And so it began. The official start of my 6-year old daughter’s quest for a canine companion. 

Unaware that her seemingly logical attempts to convince me to say yes have been used by thousands of children before her, Melissa tried to appeal to my sense of fairness.

“Mommy, I’ll take care of her, I’ll give her a bath, I’ll feed her, I’ll walk her, I promise,” she proclaimed with confidence.

“Even at 6:00 in the morning in the middle of January when it’s freezing cold outside?” I asked.

“Uh huh”

“Maybe when you’re older,” piped in my husband Bob.

“BUT Daaadddddyyyy, I want a dog now!”

Alas, she is guided by love, not logic, which is not inherently a bad thing.  Sometime I wish that logic did not occupy such a prominent part of my brain, but in this case, my head, not my heart, took hold of the reins.  The reasons for not getting a dog were endless.  Our townhouse was small.  Our cat, who has had a sure and steady rule over the family for nearly 12 years, would certainly not welcome an intruder.  My husband and I both work. We have no yard for the dog to roam free and, contrary to my little girl’s solemn promise to walk the pup at sunrise on winter mornings, I knew full well that the person taking those frigid strolls would be me.

Melissa’s constant begging for a dog eventually subsided, but never entirely went away.  Every few weeks or so, particularly after seeing one of those heart-wrenching “Boy finds dog-boy loses dog, boy finds dog again and lives happily ever after” movies, the pleading would begin anew

“Mommy, I don’t want to wait until I’m 13, I want a dog NOW!”

Repeat anti-dog rationale stated above.

She forgot about the dog during the holidays, which was good since the bombardment of gifts from relatives across the country left little room for anything else in our tiny house.  She forgot about the dog during the month of January, as the winter weather drove her outdoors, immune to the cold, to frolic in the first snow of the season.  She forgot about the dog until that fateful day in February, when my husband and I somehow had to find a way to tell our little girl that we were going to move far away from her school, her friends, her Brownie Troop and all that has been familiar to her.

I picked her up from school that day and drove her home, dreading the moment that she would notice the “For Sale” sign in the bedroom window.  That moment came immediately.

“What’s that sign mommy?”

Before I could answer she wandered into the house, up the stairs and into my husband’s home-office where he scooped her up with his big, strong daddy arms.

“Melissa,” he said.  “When we move, we are going to get you a dog.”

My eyes widened.  My mouth dropped.  I glared at him in silence and thought, how about discussing this with me?!  No luck.  She jumped off his lap with glee and started thinking up names for her future pet.  There was no turning back

Fast forward 6 months.  Finally, after many real estate pitfalls that I’ll save for a future column, we are in our dream home.  “Emily”, lovingly named by the animal shelter workers who cared for her, sits at my feet, happy as can be.  A Rottweiler/Shepard mix (or so they suspect), our new dog had lived for three months at the shelter.  It only took two days for Emily to feel comfortable in her new home.  She’s crazy about us, and the feeling is mutual.  We wonder about her life prior to wandering the streets as a stray.  Her pleasant demeanor and ability to let us know when she has to “go” leads us to believe that her former owner trained her well.  Sadly, our vet tells us the new addition to our family may be further along in her life than originally thought. 

Now, I too, am guided by love.  Giving her back is not an option, she is already a part of our family.  Bob and I decide that Melissa need not know that her dog is old.  “We’ll enjoy her as long as we have her,” said Bob as we watched Melissa play with Emily is the comfortable confines of our large, fenced in back yard.

The two of them run over to us, both out of breath from their fun.  “Mommy,” says Melissa with a smile on her face, “ I love Emily, I want to keep her forever.”

“Me too, Melissa,” I said. “Me too.”

Melissa with her new dog Emily!

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), millions of dogs and cats are destroyed annually in shelters across the country because there are no homes for them and many of these animals are pure breeds. If you would like to adopt from a shelter and save a life, log on to, the ASPCA's online partner.  Their database website accesses approximately 60,000 animals at 5,528 shelters and rescue groups that are available for adoption throughout the United States. You can search this site by breed, sex, age, gender and location.  Petfinder will provide you with a photo and bio on each pet waiting for adoption.

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