Friday, December 30, 2011

Salvation on Harry Hines

I was working diligently in my office on a cool, stormy Tuesday in October when one of my doctors came in and asked if I would accompany him on a field trip to shop for a new sofa for his office.

I thought we would go down to the design district to look at chic and unique furniture to make a statement in his office.  He had something a little different in mind—the Salvation Army.  I have never been to the Salvation Army, especially not the one at the corner of Inwood and Harry Hines.  Doctor assured me that the Salvation Army was cool and it is where he purchased all of the furniture that furnished his dorm in medical school.

As we pulled up I had to ask him, “How do you know if a hooker had previously died on one of the sofas?”  There was no punchline.  I honestly wanted to know.  Doctor told me that we’ll just have to ask for a “No Dead Hooker Guarantee” if he considered purchasing one.

When we walked in, I was quite surprised by how seemingly normal and even nice the furniture appeared.  Some of the pieces looked like they had been slightly worn in, but otherwise everything was pleasant and relatively unstained.  Doctor sat on every sofa that looked to be the size and style he desired—he was insistent on having a couch that was long enough to lie on without his feet hanging over the end.  It was entertaining to walk around scoping out sofas and point one out, only to see him lying flat on his back staring at the ceiling across the room.  Doctor was all business about this.

He sat at the end of one sofa in particular for a bit and claimed to be keen on the style, size and feel of it.  He then scooted to the other end and observed, “Odd, the cushion is squishy down here.”  When I suggested that must have been where the hooker died, he jumped off of the couch and we moved on.

Towards the back there was a loveseat in chocolate brown leather.  It appeared to be completely new and even smelled all nice and leathery.  We sat on it for a bit and then Doctor realized it was a dual recliner.  He could lie on his couch length-wise or use the recliner option.  We both tried it out and soon it was official.  Sold.

While we were sitting on his new loveseat in the showroom, I noticed an annex with the sign "Uncle Willie’s Collectibles”--or something to that effect--hanging above the entrance.  Doctor said we could go visit Uncle Willie, and I proposed competing to see who could find the most ridiculous/creepy/sad item for sale.  The room was set up like a flea market with booths and tons of old crap that the previous owners no longer wanted.  He found a hand-made sign that looked to be a kindergartener’s art project which read “You have my heart.”  Why would someone try to sell that…at Uncle Willie’s…inside a Salvation Army…on Harry Hines?  Doctor won.

The rain had stopped only moments before we emerged from the building to head back to the office.  The loveseat was delivered later that afternoon, and now Doctor’s office smells nice and leathery.  I have walked into his office several times since, and he has sat up quickly on the couch to declare, “I wasn’t asleep!”  For Christmas, I draped a French blue throw over the side of his chocolate loveseat with a note that told him the blanket will keep him comfy while relaxing on his couch, even when he claims he is not sleeping.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Ultimate Christmas Gift Foul

The following is a story I originally told on December 18, 2009, before I had my blog.  I know it seems lazy to steal a story I had already put out into the universe for the sake of having a “pre-made” post, but Bob Newhart said that stealing from yourself is not stealing—and who am I to challenge Bob, really?  Others may think it’s lame to recycle material that had already been used, but I feel the story is worth re-telling…

Yes, I re-gifted a gift to a co-worker this morning.  No biggie.  I am not at all embarrassed that I re-gifted to someone; I am embarrassed that I did not adequately cover my tracks and I got busted.  Hopefully this will be a lesson to all of you fellow re-gifters out there, no matter the occasion.

A few years ago, I gifted something that I thought was cool and unique to some friends [who now live in Sweden] who shall remain nameless.  When they opened the gift at my home, they seemingly liked the gift but then left it at my home—and never brought it up or asked about it again.  I took that as a sign that they didn’t really like the gift or that they were not interested in it, so I decided to keep it on my “emergency gift” shelf to give to someone else at a later time.  Recycled gift, recycled story—I’m subliminally messaging about going green!  Yeah, that’s it…

It was a gift that I had bought with my money.  It was not a gift to me from someone else that I decided to give to another person [not that there’s anything wrong with that, as long as it is done properly].

Ok, back to now.  I have a sweet co-worker who, when deciding what to give her as a gift this holiday season, reminded me of the gift stashed on my shelf.  Without a thought, I stuck the recycled gift into a gift bag, covered it with tissue and voila!  Instant “new” gift!

This morning, as I was watching her open it, I was BEYOND mortified to see her pull the gift out of its original box, along with the GIFTWRAP and BOW that I had originally put on it for our [nameless] friends [who now live in Sweden].  When they unwrapped the gift years prior, they must have stuck the wrapping and ribbon into the box and I never noticed!


For shame!

Now, I am torn with a dilemma: To address the issue or not to address the issue?  At this point, my co-worker surely believes that the gift was given to me and I decided to pass it down to her.  I know she saw my eyes bug out when she pulled out the old wrapping paper and bow, so I am completely busted.  There is no turning back.

Or, is it alright to be content with the fact that most people re-gift at one time or another?  Does it really need to be explained?  Does it help salvage any of my gift-giving credibility if I come clean and am completely honest?  And is the honest story any better than her just thinking that it was originally given to me instead of it being a poor, abandoned gift that I had originally intended for someone else?

A few minutes later, I opted to tell her the truth.  My co-worker laughed and hugs were shared.  She said she loved the gift, and she even followed up with me later on to tell me what she had done with it.  And no, it was not that she had re-packaged it to give to someone else.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice!

I was seven years old the first time I recall feeling the emotion of embarrassment.  I was in the second grade and it was the beginning of the school year.  We went to Parent-Teacher night, and it was my mother, my brother (four years old at the time) and of course me.  They had us students sit at our assigned desks and the parents had chairs to sit next to us.  My brother was placed at a small, round table in the back of the room with the other younger siblings.  I think they were coloring.

[Back story]
We were raised in a large family and spent a lot of time with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  And our cousins weren’t [and still aren’t!] just family—they were our friends.  I have three cousins in particular, all sisters, and I am the same age as the youngest of them.  It was common for us to be around their house on weekends, and we happened to be there on a weekend right around the beginning of my second grade school year.  Two of the sisters were three and six years older than me, so they had a collection of movies that four (or even seven!) year olds should not see.  One movie in particular that caught our attention was Beetlejuice [the beginning of my Tim Burton fascination, *sigh].  It had just come out on video and my older cousins had it!  My aunt actually let us watch it and we soaked it in…

[Back to the real story]
So my second grade teacher, Mrs. Conrad, was up at the front of the room, carrying on as a teacher does at Parent-Teacher night—I don’t recall exactly what she was saying.  I am just proud to vividly remember as much as I am still able.  With one scene in particular from Beetlejuice still fresh on his mind, my four year old brother had an idea.

From the back of the room we all heard a sweet [familiar] little boy’s voice exclaiming, “Nice FUCKING model! *honk *honk”  “Nice FUCKING model! *honk *honk.”  We all turned around to witness my baby brother standing on his chair at the young children’s table, yelling this sentence, and in true Beetlejuice style, he would grab his crotch for a visual to go along with the *honk, *honk.

I remember laughing, for obvious reasons, but as soon as I began laughing another feeling came over me.  I knew he was not supposed to be doing that, I knew he was in major trouble, and I remember feeling actual embarrassment for the very first time.  I thought the act, in itself, was hilarious, but I wished it had been someone else’s little brother.

The next thing I remember was being drug out of the room by my mother and looking over to see my brother being carried out like a football, my mother’s hand cupped over his mouth.  We were heading home early from Parent-Teacher night.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Is Mustard a Dressing or a Condiment?

I once worked for a family-owned catering/gift company who also sold fresh floral arrangements.  They had a beautiful kitchen and floral room, a sizeable warehouse, a fleet of vans for delivery service and a posh wine shop in Uptown.  I was regularly served catered lunch, asked to taste cookies and confections for feedback and usually had fresh flowers on my desk—it was like I was dating my job.

One of my favorite “tasks” was when it was time to design our annual Christmas catalog, the head gift designer would have all of our new offerings displayed and I would get to name the gifts and write the catalog captions for each one.  Similarly, when they would debut new floral arrangements, I would get to name and caption them as well.  As the Director of Customer Service, I got to train and supervise our call center employees, handle e-commerce, maintain aspects of the website and resolve any shipping/service issues.  I was promoted twice within a surprisingly short amount of time and had my own office—things seemed to be on the fast track to being very good.  I loved my job.

Christmas was our bread and butter.  They put out an annual catalog and would sell the hell out of turkeys, hams, cookies, cakes, wine, cheese and tons of other treats and confections.  Our full-time staff of approximately 40 grew to, I think, about 200 from October to January, to help handle the huge inflow of holiday orders.  January through September had much slower, but steady, business with small peak holidays like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, but those were really floral holidays.  From the week after Thanksgiving through the week of Christmas, we had no personal life.  We all worked 12+ hour days with no breaks, and we sometimes had to work six and even seven day weeks.  That was the one thing that really got me down and I didn’t look forward to the holiday season while working there.  Otherwise, things were pretty good in the beginning.

As time went on, I learned the lesson about “not all that glitters is gold.”  The company was run by two brothers, third-generation owners, and my last name was not the same as theirs.  Their grandparents struggled and spent their lives building the business, and their parents saw how hard the grandparents worked to build it and carried on the business.  It was then handed down to their children, my bosses, who grew up with the family business thriving and they enjoyed the fruits of its success, never having to experience the struggles of their parents or grandparents.

These guys seemingly never had a real problem in their life.  One day I was walking by one of their offices and I noticed they were red-faced and arguing.  They stopped me, “Julie!  Is mustard a dressing or a condiment?”  Once I said that it was a condiment, they closed the office door in my face.  This is the kind of crap they had to deal with when they came to work—each other’s stupidity.

They once had a Vice President that did all of the dirty work, kept things running smoothly and did a good job maintaining employee morale for over ten years.  He was an amazing man and I admired him so.  I had the pleasure of working with him the first year I was with the company.  With him there, the brothers could be off golfing, lunching and vacationing—things they should definitely be doing instead of learning how to properly run their business in case, say, the Vice President no longer wished to do so, right?  They thought that if they paid the VP enough money, he would work there forever and let them treat him poorly.  This is not how things panned out.

There is an old rule, “The first generation starts a business. The second generation runs it. And the third generation ruins it."  I have read that only around 15% of family-owned businesses survive the third generation, and this is greatly due to a lack of succession planning.  Both brothers went to business school but lacked essential skills and managerial experience, so they were ill prepared for the job.

When the VP resigned, things went to hell.  The brothers [gasp!] had to come to “work” again!  With their lack of business sense and managerial skills, one could imagine how things changed.  One of the biggest mistakes they made was that what they called “marketing” was really sending flyers to their current customer distribution list.  They never prospected or advertised to gain new clients—they simply kept fishing from the same old hole they had for years.  And most of the clients that they still had were retired and loyal to the company because they knew the brothers’ parents and/or grandparents.  These customers were completely spoiled and would complain if one apple (out of two dozen ordered) had a bruise and would demand they get a fresh batch sent—and the brothers would have me do it!  And they could not seem to understand why the company was not making money…

Business hadn’t been doing very well since the economy began its big downturn following 9/11, but after the VP left, things got even worse.  Morale plummeted, staff began leaving and my job got less and less fun.  They had me doing aspects of the former VP’s job but for ¼ of the pay.  Nice…

I came in to work on December 26, 2007, for a mandatory company meeting at 8 a.m., where the brothers announced to us that they were closing their kitchen and we would no longer offer catering services.  They had the kitchen staff in earlier that morning to let them know.  Just like that.  They asked them to come in to work the morning after Christmas to tell them that they no longer had jobs and to go home.  This was the day I knew I needed out.  If they would do this to people who had worked there for nearly 20 years, I knew they would do it to any of the rest of us, at anytime, and without warning.

It took me eight months of searching to break up with the brothers, and they barely reacted when I handed them my letter of resignation.  About a year after I left, they also closed their wine store, the floral department and they stopped their delivery service.  There are less than ten full-time employees left, and I include the owners and their wives in that total.  I truly don't know how they are still in business.

For years, I was proud to say that I worked for a family-owned business, and I guess what happened here is an example of a risk you take when you decide to work for a small company.  I got to know several great people with whom I am still in contact, and I feel fortunate for that.  And I am grateful that I got the hell out of there, seemingly just in the nick of time…

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I’m Not Welcome at the Steakhouse/Flea Market Anymore

I was not cool in high school.  I am not cool now, either, I realize, but in high school I had friends in every clique but I did not belong to any clique.  I was just there with everyone else.  I did have one friend in particular who rose up the ranks of popularity as we grew up and was part of “that” group in high school.  Unlike some of them, he stayed down to earth and we remained friends.

A few years after graduation, my friend had moved out of state but was coming home for a visit.  I hadn’t seen him since high school, so I was of course excited to catch up.  He invited me, along with his formerly popular high school friends, to all meet up at the steakhouse/flea market for as good of a time as one might have in Waxahachie, Texas.

Since my boyfriend [now husband] had never been to such an enticing combo venue [surprising, as he is from Celina, Texas], I felt it was my duty to arrive extra early for him to get the full experience.  We perused the flea market of old books, dolls and novelty wooden door signs for sale with crafty and clever wording such as “I’m a QUEEN—my pantyhose say so!”

Following the market, we sat down to a good ‘ol country steak and baked potato meal, complete with cocktails.  I am a wine drinker and was blown away by the large and super cheap goblets of wine they were pouring.  So I kept asking for more—it was amazing how my nervousness seemingly dissipated.

Multiple goblets later, my friend and other former classmates began showing up.  It was great to see everyone, probably because by this time I was completely smashed.  Some of the girls were just how they were in high school, but some were more pleasant and I enjoyed catching up, introducing my boyfriend, etc.  My visiting friend and I talked for a while and naturally additional goblets of chardonnay were consumed.  It was still surprisingly early when I began to not feel so well.

I decided it was time to bow out and head back to my parents’, who were still living in Waxahachie at the time, and so we began saying our good-byes.  I hugged every person wearing [or not wearing] a cowboy hat in the place when I finally made my way to my visiting friend for one last drunken hug.  Looking back, it’s amazing just how close I came to not even having a story to tell—I nearly made it out when my friend, at the end of our hug, embraced me tightly around the shoulders and shook back and forth [if he is reading this, what the hell was that about?], and you know what happened next.

My former classmates got to see my ribeye, my baked potato and just however many goblets of wine I ended up consuming that evening.  It was one of those moments where everything stopped.  Even the country band on stage watched as I vomited on the dance floor, myself and quite possibly a few others.  I remember a brief pause in my three stages of getting sick, where a hand grabbed my arm, rushing me out of the steakhouse/flea market.  After a brief check in at the hostess podium for round two, we made our way to the parking lot for round three.

I got put into the car and woke up the next morning to multiple text messages and voicemails from a very concerned visiting friend, wanting confirmation that I hadn’t died.  By Monday morning, I had five MySpace friend requests—all former classmates and I believe one of them wasn’t even there that night.  I was once embarrassed by the occurrences of that evening, but life does go on.  And in case you’re curious, no, I did not make it to my ten-year high school reunion.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

To Catch a Predator: How I Met My Husband Edition

I met Kit on a Friday at a bar downtown, on the night I was celebrating my twenty-second birthday.  It was like a scene in a cheesy romantic comedy where we spotted each other from across a crowded room and seemingly kept making eye contact throughout the evening until we finally worked up the nerve to introduce ourselves.  He was completely adorable, but he had one of those country handlebar moustaches—it looked out of place and like it didn’t fit his personality.

After chatting a good part of the evening we did a swapping of the cell numbers and went our separate ways.  Kit called me for the first time that Sunday afternoon, and I thought he was about to ask me on a date for the next weekend when he instead asked if we could get together later that very evening.  We met downtown and he asked if I wanted to go back to his house to watch a movie.  He told me that he had two female roommates [which I was never jealous about because even though they were both quite attractive, the fact remains that they are horrible people—which has no relevance to this story, but I was just overwhelmed with the want to put that out there because I have never publicly announced how much I truly dislike them] who were home and promised that they would come in and club him if he tried any “funny business.”  Why shouldn’t I trust this complete stranger, right!?

This is my elementary-skill drawing of how Kit looked in the beginning.
We have all seen this guy before; although it is usually a higher quality sketch
and is incorporated into a news story instead of a blog
about how someone met their husband.

Since I was just assured that we wouldn’t be completely alone, I agreed to follow him “just up the road” to his house.  Along the way I began thinking about how I do not know this person at all or where the hell he really was leading me, so I called one of my girlfriends who was at the bar with me two evenings prior and had also met Kit that night.  I explained to her that I was following him to his house to watch a movie, and then I proceeded to give her the make and model of his car along with his license plate number.  I told her to call me at exactly 11 p.m., and if I didn’t answer, call the police and then call my mother.  Yeah, like that could have really prevented him from putting me down in a pit then repeatedly demanding I keep putting lotion on my body, only so he could later skin me and wear me as an outfit while dancing around and applying Chap Stick.

Twenty-ish minutes later we arrived in front of his [completely dark and empty] house.  My first impulse was to keep driving.  This guy that I didn’t know at all had just lied to me, and I was gullible enough to trust him in the first place.  He said two roommates would be at the house, and yet there were no lights on, not even a porch light, and there wasn’t one car in the driveway or in front of the house.  For all I knew, this guy had women buried all over his backyard.  The wise and rational thing to do would have been to keep driving and go home or at least insist that we go some place public instead.

So, naturally my newly twenty-two year old self parked and went into the house alone with him.  The house was actually charming and I didn’t smell carcass.  There were two living rooms—a dainty one for the girls and then Kit’s den.  His was a poorly-lit room covered with horror movie posters on the walls and action figures of Leatherface, Freddy Krueger, Jason, Michael Myers and, sadly, many others on every flat surface.  This would have been another reason to leave and never return, and yet I stayed…

We did end up watching a movie and when 11 p.m. came around, my girlfriend called.  I told her everything was fine, but please retain the information I had given her earlier—you know, just in case.  Eventually the two roommates came home—as it turned out, they were planning to be home that evening like Kit had said, but they decided last minute to go out for a bit.  Eventually all of my anxiety about whether or not I was on a date with a serial killer faded away.  He asked me on an official “out on the town” date that next weekend, and four years later we got married.

Looking back, I can hardly believe the chance I took on a complete stranger [with that moustache especially].  It is interesting to remember instances where we made decisions that turned out just fine, but had circumstances been different, we could have really ended up in trouble.  My twenty-nine year old self would have definitely kept driving, but suppose if I had on that night nearly seven years ago…

Unfortunately I took no photo of Kit’s moustache that lasted only three weeks into our relationship, but here are a few of his other experiments in facial hair throughout the years…

Monday, May 16, 2011

Riding in Cabs with Hookers

I began dating a guy in early December of 2001 when I was still living at home.  I drove a beautiful, white Camaro and since I was a spoiled brat and my daddy had paid for it, it came with a restriction—do not drive it to Dallas.  On my very first “real date” with the new guy, (living in Waxahachie, a real date was when you actually left Waxahachie) I opted to break the rule and volunteer to take my pretty car to Dallas.

It was December 21st, and we went to see my favorite local band at a club in Deep Ellum.  I parked behind the club where I typically did when I visited this particular club.  Sure, there were signs posted that said “No Parking – Violators will be Towed,” but I wasn’t worried about it.  I had gotten away with it several times before, and besides, the parking lot was practically full—what were they going to do, tow away all of us?

Just after 1 a.m. when the concert was over, we went out to where my car was parked and surprise!  ALL of the cars were gone.  The fuzz had had every last one of us towed while we were all inside enjoying the show.  After several minutes of me squatting in the parking lot, hunched over and hyperventilating, I composed myself and went into problem-solving mode.  There was a telephone number on the tow-away sign so I called it and found out where my car had been sent.  Apparently it was at a lovely impound on Ledbetter, just a few miles south on 45, lovely.

I called for a cab and a while later a Jamaican fellow picked us up.  He was pleasant enough, but he had an unsavory, scantily-clad woman in the front seat with him.  I found it interesting that he would pick us up while he already had a passenger/customer, and also that she was sitting in the front seat with him, quite close in fact—but what did I know?  I was 19 and had never ridden in a taxi before.

He took us to the address I had for the impound yard and let us out—luckily we had enough cash to pay for the cab ride.  He and his traveling companion didn’t wait to make sure we made it in alright before speeding off down the road.  We made our way to the gate that was chained up and noticed a sign saying that the impound had recently moved half a mile down the road.  It was after 1:30 a.m. and I believe it was around 34 degrees outside by that time; also, since we didn’t anticipate spending an extended period of time outdoors that evening, we were only wearing light jackets.

We walked down Ledbetter through an industrial area that was not well-lit and was pretty much terrifying.  We would see a guy here and there walking by themselves, and we just knew they were either going to or coming from a drug deal.  We finally made it to the new location of the impound yard and things were looking up.  During our walk I had figured out that I would simply have them swipe my credit card to pay the charges and we would soon be on our way home!  My parents would never even have to know that I snuck the car out of town or especially that it had been towed.  When we approached the minimally-toothed woman at the impound office, she told us it would be just over $250 to get the car.  I agreeably handed over my Visa card, and she smirked as she said that they were only accepting cash and money orders right now.  Since they had just moved, they were not currently accepting credit cards as the machine hadn’t yet been “set up.”

After several minutes of me squatting in the parking lot, hunched over and hyperventilating, I composed myself and went into problem-solving mode.  We would call another cab, have them take us to a gas station or a place with an ATM, and I would get cash to pay for the car.  My parents would never have to know.  I called the same cab company since the number was still in my phone—and what do you know, the same Jamaican cab driver and his sweet lady pulled up about half an hour later.  It was during this ride that I had figured out that it was the driver who was the woman’s customer.  We were riding in a cab with a hooker.

The driver took us to a gas station that clearly belonged in this area of town.  Unless you had a vile of hand sanitizer with you, it would not be advised to touch anything here—you would surely contract a form of hepatitis.  As my date and I approached the ATM I thought, “No problem.  I’ll use my debit card and overdraw (when you’re a teenager, you never have more than a couple hundred bucks in your checking account), and then replace it the next day when I get paid.”  My parents would never have to know.  As it turned out, this particular ATM would not let me withdraw more than what was in my checking account—around $75.  This was not nearly enough to get my car out of the impound, and when I attempted to access cash with my credit card at the ATM, it asked for a PIN number—which of course I had never thought to set up.  I finally asked my date if he would loan me the cash until the next day, but as luck had it, he had no money either.  We were quite the duo—defeated with hardly any money in perhaps the shittiest area of Dallas.  Stranded.

Our cab driver had waited outside of the gas station for us, like he and the hooker had anything better to do at 2 a.m.  They took us back to the [correct] impound yard this time, and the new game plan was to offer the impound lady what cash I had and plead with her to let me write a check or offer to help her set up the credit card machine—whatever it would take.  We arrived back at the impound yard around 2:30 a.m., and there was no haggling with her.  She wouldn’t even let us sit in the warm office with her since it was past 10 p.m., so we sat outside on a bench in the freezing cold.

It was 3:15 a.m. when I finally admitted that it was time to call the parental units to bail us out.  My father answered the phone, and I proceeded to sob through our very brief conversation where I explained the situation, the amount I needed, how sorry I was, and the only thing my dad said was, “Your mother and I will be there when we can,” and hung up.

We sat on the freezing bench outside of the impound yard well over an hour.  When they finally pulled up, my mom got out and paid the impound lady the amount that was due.  My dad didn’t get out of the car.  Since I had only been dating this guy a few weeks, my parents hadn’t met him yet.  This was not the ideal circumstance in which to introduce them, and it probably helped that my father wasn’t speaking to me.  I was told by my dad through my mom that I was to drop my date off at his house and then immediately come home myself.  I had never felt so comforted by the warmth of my bed at 5:30 a.m.  When I was able, I reimbursed my parents for the impound charge and then served a surprisingly lenient six months of grounding...

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Time I Slapped a Stranger's Baby

Our best friends were here a year ago, visiting from Sweden.  It was early summer, but even in early summer in Dallas, it is ridiculously hot and we were looking for ways to entertain our guests in a comfortable setting—indoors with air conditioning.  One day they were here, we opted to visit NorthPark—Dallas’ premier shopping center of the elite, the privileged, local [and visiting] celebrities…and then us.  We went to enjoy lunch, do a little shopping and take in an afternoon movie.  A cold movie theater is about the only thing that can soothe me during the summer months—I’m perpetually irritable from June until October, but I swear that has nothing to do with what happened.

Following lunch, our guests wanted to stop by the Apple store to see the iPads.  You see, in Sweden they have pickled fish, vodka and self-assembly furniture, so an iPad was a particularly exciting piece of technology for them to witness.  As we made our way to the Apple store, I was telling a story, as friends do when they are catching up after not seeing each other in nearly three years.  In honor of my Italian ancestors, I use excessive hand gestures and arm flailing to stress points and for dramatic effect during my stories.

Paying no attention to my surroundings I continued with my story, unaware of the stroller that was approaching.  Before I could process what was happening, it was already done—I had just back-handed a toddler in the face.  Since we passed going opposite directions, we were already several feet apart before both parties caught on to what had just occurred.

My immediate response, naturally, was shock followed by denial and then horror.  Did…I…just…no way.  The parents gave me a disgusting look, as they very well should have—I had just slapped their baby!  It was my fault regardless of the fact that they were the ones walking against the natural flow of mall traffic and even though they clearly were not paying attention to where they were going either.  It was my fault because it was the back of my hand that collided with their child’s flawless cheek.

As soon as I realized what happened I believe I blurted out something along the lines of “Ohmigod,” and then it happened—my friends and I were overcome with laugher.  It is hard to sound sincere with an apology while laughing as hysterically as my friends and I were laughing.  With as crowded as the mall was and how much distance there was now between us, both parties went their separate ways without any conflict, thankfully.  It was an honest accident and although laughing uncontrollably most likely wasn’t the most appropriate response to the situation, it was just the way it went.  I believe what made it the worst is that of course it had to be me who slapped someone’s child—the person who gets taunted for not liking children [which is not true!] and my circle of friends’ years of teasing had finally come to fruition.

This was the ongoing joke for the remainder of their trip, and I still catch flack about it from time to time, as recent as last week actually.  “I know it will be hard to resist, but don’t smack that baby!”  “Don’t roll a stroller in Julie’s direction!”  I waited to share this story until I was pretty sure the statute of limitations on assault had passed, in case the parents of that damaged child had somehow been tracking me the past year, just waiting for a confession…

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

No Bun in This Oven

I’m getting that ache again—it began a couple of years ago when my first nephew arrived.  Amazingly, it went away when we adopted Vinnie—but two years later, and with two new nephews (one arrived last month and the other is coming in April), the ache is back and in full-effect.  I know what this all too familiar feeling really is about and that my rapidly-approaching-30 body and mind are telling me—I need a new puppy!

Kit and I have been married for two and a half years, and we repeatedly get asked, “So, when is it going to be your turn?”  “When are you guys going to have little ones?”  And I remind them that I already have a little one—he’s permanently 15 pounds, potty trained, and the authorities have no problem with me putting him in a crate when I choose to leave the house without him.

I adore my nephews, cousins and my friends’ children.  I love holding babies and feeding them; I love the feeling I get when my cousin’s little girl squeals “Jewwie!” and runs to give me a big hug when I see her—she even named one of her dolls after me!  But I am completely petrified of the incredible responsibility and expenses involved, and that’s nothing compared to how scared I am to think about molding an actual person into who they will become.  I thoroughly enjoy visiting with friends and family, loving the little ones and spoiling them however I can, then going home for a nice, quiet nap. 

At 28, I still don’t see myself as someone toting around kids in a minivan, and I don’t know if I ever will.  I like being able to do what I want and when I want to do it.  Some people would say that is selfish, but I prefer to think I am just being honest and true to myself.  I think it is better to know this about myself and what I want, rather than giving in to the pressures of society and having children merely because it is what I have been programmed to think I am “supposed” to do.

I often worry about things like, what if I finally come around and decide I do want children, but I have waited too long to have them—and no one will let me adopt one because I am too old?  And how long do I need to feel like I do now, before I admit that this is it—I’m never going to change my mind about this.  I could what-if myself to death, but for now, I am content with my life and how it is set up.  I try not to worry about it too much.

Kit and I have discussed getting a new pup this spring, and I can hardly wait to go to the shelter and find the perfect one to bring home.  I look forward to seeing how Vinnie reacts to having a live-in playmate, and letting him help me teach the new pup what he already knows.  Call me crazy, unconventional, non-traditional—but I think the kind of mom I am meant to be, is a dog mom.

Monday, January 3, 2011

If Life Is Worth Living, It Is Worth Recording

I am venturing back into the wonderful world of blogging, one small tip-toe at a time.  I blogged for years and loved it, but fell victim to shiny social networks which encouraged me to keep my thoughts quick and compact, and I inevitably abandoned my former blog.  Instead of reopening it, I have decided to go for a fresh start.  I was 21 when I began my first blog, single, in college, still in my hometown and living for myself.  Eight years later, I am married in the big city and working on building my career, while being the best dog-mom and auntie in the world.

My husband, a humor writer and cartoonist, encouraged me when I expressed interest in blogging again.  We talked about how there really is no quality control on the internet and how anyone can say anything at anytime and feel like a star all the while.  I am not one to kid myself; this blog is mostly for me.  I do not have any false sense of feeling like I am a published artist, and I do not expect much out of my blog, other than writing what I feel like writing, when I feel like writing it.

I am not an authority on anything.  I will not devote my blog to advice or self-help.  I just hope that, if you choose to read along, you will take something away from it--and maybe get a chuckle along the way.  I will make efforts to be entertaining and interesting, but nobody can be both all of the time.  With that in mind, I must say that I will also strive to only post when I have something to actually post about.  I do not plan to put unrealistic expectations on myself, i.e. vowing to blog every day as part of some resolution or something to prove.

I also do not know exactly where this blog is going, and that is fine with me for now.  I believe the first step is to get started, then let my inspiration or ideas come to me when they are ready.  I am not sure that I am interesting enough to only talk about myself, but I do have funny and odd things happen to me  quite often and I will want to share them.  I also have bad days and may want to say something about them on here, but I have no intention of making this a forum for rants and bitching.  Although, that is likely to happen from time to time.

For now, I feel content that I took the time to sign up for my new blog and have written my first official post.  There will be plenty more to come because I have lots to say--I just don't know when it will be, or what.  Not that anyone is reading this anyway.  :-)