Monday, November 25, 2013

Lisa the Broadway Sensation!

Growing up as the middle of three children, alone time became a rare, albeit welcome respite from the daily squabbles with my older sister Bev and play time with my baby brother Steven.

My tiny bedroom, which boasted brightly colored walls painted to match the orange shag carpeting, played host to two twin beds, two dressers, and not nearly enough closet space.   My side of the room, much to my neater sister's chagrin,  could best be described as a "slob paradise". Yet I didn't care.

For when Bev wasn't around, my bedroom became my haven. My escape. My place where it felt safe to unlock an imaginary world where I could become an adored actress, a best selling author, or a world famous rock star.  Yes, with my brush microphone in one hand and tennis racquet guitar in the other, I'd sing along to my 45 records, giving the performance of a life time to sell out crowds.

45's how we listened to music in the dinosaur era
Just when I thought that being an actress, author, and rock star wasn't parents introduced me to something truly mesmerizing! Live theater!  At the tender age of 10 I joined Bev, my mom and dad in the orchestra section at the Forrest Theater in Philadelphia to watch the national touring company production of the Broadway hit "Annie".  Surely, if a precocious little red head could bring the house down by belting out "Tomorrow" like there was no tomorrow, then I could do it too.  It didn't matter that at 10, the gawky years had begun to rear their ugly head.  It didn't matter that producers of Broadway musicals were not looking for shy little girls with stringy hair, glasses, and braces, who didn't know how to adjust to figures that had become "feminine" much too early.

Yes, none of that mattered.  Alone in my bedroom, I too belted out "Tomorrow" like there was no tomorrow, practicing for hours on end for my Broadway debut.

I only had one teensy weensy little problem.....

I couldn't sing.

I didn't know that I couldn't sing.  Or shall I say, I didn't know that I didn't know how to sing.

I'll explain.

When the radio played one of my favorites songs and I attempted to sing along, my family members chastised me for not staying on key.  It may seem strange, but I had absolutely no idea what it meant to sing on key.  I tried to correct the problem to no avail, because I didn't know that I didn't know how to sing.

Without my own personal Maria Von Trapp to teach me Do Re Mi, I survived my teen years and all throughout my 20's not realizing that when others sang "Do", I would more than likely be singing "Re" or "Fa" or "Ti".  It all sounded the same to me.

Enter my "oh so patient" husband Bob.  Early in our courtship, Bob realized his girlfriend had a sweet sounding voice, if only she could sing in the correct key.  But instead of chastising me, Bob took a different approach.....

He taught me!

For some reason he chose the song "Age of Aquarius", (From the musical "Hair" for the young folk reading this blog) forcing me to sing it again and again and again until I began to understand the difference between the key of C, D, E, F, G, etc.  And with that understanding, I finally learned how to sing.

Over 20 years later, I can proudly share that, thanks to Bob, I have realized my dream of becoming a Broadway sensation  singing without enduring taunts from anyone within a five mile radius.

While I may never smile down from the stage at an adoring crowd, I get to do something even vicariously through my 16-year old daughter Melissa!  You see, Melissa has been blessed with the musical talent I lack...and then some.  She taught herself to play guitar, and her beautiful singing voice is as sweet as an angel.

In the coming weeks, I will happily play the role of proud mom as Melissa performs with the prestigious All South Jersey Senior High Chorus.

As for me, I'll be glad to demonstrate my singing ability for anyone brave enough to listen....
.....When the moon is in the 7th house, and Jupiter aligns with Mars, and peace will guide the planet, and looooove will steer the stars.  This is the dawning of the age of aquarius, age of aquarius.....

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Bob is Forbidden to Buy in Bulk

Within ten miles of our home, situated in a typical suburban shopping center, sits the "Buy in Bulk" Super Club store, inviting the gullible to walk through its doors and take advantage of all of the supposed "huge savings."

If you look closely as you approach the entrance to the Super Club store, you'll notice a small sign fastened to the door.  This sign carries a very clear message:

Bob Weinstein Not Permitted

Yes, that's right. My husband Bob is banned from the "Buy in Bulk" Super Club store!

Why, you may ask?

For the answer, I take you down memory lane to the first year of our marriage.  On the way home from work one day, Bob decided to peruse the aisles of our local Super Club store.  While perusing, he determined that our cozy family of 3 desperately needed a 10-gallon jug of maple syrup, which of course, was on sale.

Just how many pancakes he thought my step-daughter Jessica and I were going to eat, I'll never know.  (My daughter Melissa, now 16, had not come along yet)

To this day my Bob is mesmerized by the concept of buying in bulk...even though the only people who live under our roof are Bob, Melissa, and me (Jessica is now happily married). Oh, and I suppose I should also include our cat, since Bob insists on buying in bulk for him too.  (The darn kitty will be munching Friskies until the next Millennium)

I'm not sure why bulk buying holds such allure for Bob, but it may have to do with growing up as one of 10 children (4 belonged to his mom, 6 belonged to his step-father).  Every night at his dinner table, 20 little hands grabbed for the grub.  If you didn't take charge, go in head first and act quickly, all would be gone.

Perhaps that's why, some 4 decades later, he's afraid we'll run out of... everything.  Our weekly trips to the supermarket turn into an argument within every aisle.  Armed with his envelope of coupons, Bob sets out to do battle. While in contrast, my goal is to:


It's not unusual for Bob to come home every single week, with:
48 roles of toilet paper. ("We'll use it!")
12 bottles of diet coke ("We'll drink it!)
5 cartons of zip lock plastic bags. ("We'll store it!")
15 jars of soup (We'll eat it!")

Usually I just sigh, put up with Bob's "Buy in Bulk" mentality and make room on the shelves for all of the things we don't need.  However, I reached my boiling point with the coffee.

Yes, the coffee.  The 7 ounce container of instant coffee that normally sells for  $13.

A fortune, I know.

However, every other month or so the super market or local drug store will offer a half price sale on the coffee.  When Bob learns of this fantastic bargain opportunity, he is first in line at the store the day the deal goes into effect, and he comes home with as much coffee as he can carry (or as much as the store will allow him to buy).

Over the past few months, it seemed the store has offered the half price coffee more often than not, causing my husband to make his frequent pilgrimage to the store, salivating with excitement with each successful purchase.

I made room in the pantry for 3 containers. Then 6.  Then 9.

"Stop buying the coffee!" I exclaimed in exasperation.

"But they are on sale, and we use them," came his attempt at a rebuttal.

I made room in the pantry for 12 containers. Then 15.


Still, he didn't listen.

In an effort to figure out where to put all of these containers of the coffee, I decided to schedule my annual Cleaning of the Pantry.

I found coffee containers hidden inside a bowl, behind the flour, under the trash bags, next to the cereal, etc...

In fact, to prove to Bob just how large our incredible coffee collection had grown, I took the containers out of the pantry and lined them up - all 19 of them - on the kitchen floor!

At long last, I made my point!

When Bob saw his coffee containers lined up like little soldiers, he couldn't help but laugh.

He has since promised he will not purchase any more coffee until we are down to 3 containers.

So if you happen to drive by my house and spot my hubby lying on our front lawn covered in coffee grinds, you'll know he broke the deal.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Learning to Accept My Middle-Aged Self

When I look at photos of my elementary school years, there are a number of adjectives that come to mind.  Young, innocent, gawky, and dare I say.... nerdy.  My long, stringy hair fell limp onto my shoulders, while my horrible vision dictated the need for glasses so large they framed half my face.

However, there is one adjective I would not use when I see the face of my former self smiling from the pages of decades-old photo albums. That adjective is "fat".

Quite simply, as a young girl, I did not have a problem with my weight. Yet at the time, I felt like a whale compared to my peers. Taller than most of my fellow students, I went through the grammar school years convinced that my body took up much more width and depth than those of my classmates.

At no time did this feeling become more pronounced than when the school nurse performed our annual physical exams.  A homely looking woman in her 60's, she checked any semblance of compassion at the door prior to entering the building each morning.

She had us all stand in a line, waiting to take our turn on the scale. I cringed with terror as my turn to step on that dreaded apparatus inched closer and closer.  It seemed my waif-like classmates barely weighed enough to be alive, while the number on the scale that described my body weight might as well have been 3,752 pounds.

Making matters worse, the school nurse insisted on announcing each student's weight with a voice that echoed off the walls with such force that everyone in line, yes, even the boys, now had knowledge of the deepest, darkest secret I swore I would take to the grave.

I suppose it didn't occur to her that it really matters to young girls if others know what they weigh.

It certainly mattered to me.

It mattered a lot.

And unfortunately, it still does.  That is why my 16-year old daughter Melissa calls me a hypocrite.

Yes, that's right. A hypocrite.

Seems I earned the hypocrite title during my attempt to explain that teenage girls shouldn't focus so much on body image, but rather on all of the wonderful things about themselves.  I told my daughter she is beautiful, has a radiant smile that lights up a room, a singing voice as sweet as an angel, and a passion for guitar that has pushed her to develop into a musical talent in her own right.

In response, she said, "Mom, how can I think positively about myself when you are always commenting on how fat you are?"


I had to admit, she was right.

I experienced my heaviest weight the year following Melissa's birth. Seems I still considered it "healthy" to eat an entire bag of Oreo cookies, even though I was no longer eating for two.  Thanks to the arduous task of giving up nearly all carbs, I eventually shed the pregnancy pounds and then some, dropping two clothing sizes in the process. Yet despite my best efforts, while walking the path on my life journey towards the inevitable "change", some - not all - but some of the weight came back to stay, resulting in sagging in parts of my body that had never sagged before.

Today, at age 48, I wear the same size clothing that fit me at age 16.  I felt large then.  I feel large now.  
However, Melissa's eye-opening revelation forced me to take a step back and reevaluate my perception of my middle-aged self.  I have a wonderful husband who loves me, a good job, dear friends, an amazing step-daughter and the most incredible teenage daughter any mom could hope for. We have a roof over our heads, we are healthy....we are happy.

So why should body image matter?

The answer?  It shouldn't.

And I'll try to remember that every time I look in the mirror at my magnificent middle-aged self!

Enjoying a spectacular autumn day with my beautiful daughter Melissa!

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