Bends Over Backwards So You Don’t Have To

Like most people, I prefer it when everything runs smoothly.


That is why, if we were  expressing this moment in interpretive dance, you’d see a small ineffective waif clinging to what remains of the status quo while angry imps, representing chaos and bad choices, hit her with mean words and dust mops embroidered with the word “WRONG”.


Those of us still plagued by old school ideas about raising and educating our kids consider them a set of guidelines that while sometimes suffocating are still better than any sort of idea we might come up with ourselves. They’re a necessary evil, and we tell our kids to buck up and get with the program so that the life machine can swallow them up a little easier when the school system spits them out the other side. And for a while, that worked here in our house as well.


Enter, the dragon. Or more specifically my third child. No core curriculum could interest him. No seat was big enough to contain his energy and more tragically no teacher could tame him enough to make him fit the confines of a classroom. At age four a preschool teacher deemed him “unteachable” and “a danger” and recommended an army of specialists with long lists of credentials. He confounded them all.  People who shouted loudly and forcefully to discipline him harder had no real understanding of what they were dealing with, and made an already strained situation worse with their frustration. In the middle of all this frenetic grasping at straws and last chances up in smoke stood the kid who was the reason for it all, looking at all of us as if we were already dead but just too stupid to fall over.

Cut to six years later, all the educational buffoons and braying donkeys were wrong. The small boy, about whom someone once remarked “he’ll either burn down the world or rule it with an iron fist” is a thriving, intelligent, kindhearted person with limitless possibilities. I used to struggle with the upsettingly tremendous sense of burden I carried with me when making decisions about how to proceed academically, personally and parentally (not a word? FU spellcheck) with my third kid, but now the sigh of relief you hear is deafening. The endless disciplinary hearings and terrifying diagnoses that made up so much of my nightmare fuel back then are distant memories. They’ve been replaced by the pounding elegance and delicate savagery of a boy who made his own way, despite every odd being stacked against him, with sharpened wits and a broad field of vision that enables him to see where he’s going and how he’s going to get there.

I dare say, he’s my boldest creation.

So if you find yourself mired in a pit of parental despair, surrounded by angry “specialists” that just charged you ten thousand dollars for the pleasure of sitting down and discussing the somewhat questionable neuro/psych/edu. test results they got, and what it all means for your poor kids future, remember that from the ashes of this complete and utter bullshit can sometimes rise a little phoenix – and keep ahold of that while you take a deep breath.



Filed under 2015 is the new 2013, am I doing anything right?, average is so much easier, back to regularly scheduled programming, I'm back bitches, kids with issues

1802 Domicile Redux


It’s a riveting concept.

The place where you keep all your things, feed your family and try to establish some sort of orderly routine lest you all fall into the lava pit of chaos where no one gets out alive.

It’s base, if you’re touching it, you’re safe.

Volcanic tantrums, meaningless fights, hilarity, love and hate all  took place  within the brick confines of its walls and you complained endlessly about its shortcomings- but it was where you lived.

So I suppose this is the half assed, semi enthusiastic long overdue love letter to the hundred year old city house with the shitty plumbing, scalding radiators and crumbling foundation.

Three weeks ago, when I walked out of you for the last time it hit me like a gut punch from Manny Pacquiao in his ferocious prime- the tiny people we raised there, the dogs that came and went, the absolute mischief and delight we caused and witnessed, the loud fights,the drunk guys on our porch catching a nap, the bold magnificently unrepentant rats, the hugs, the bedtimes, the recreation of a Santa Claus that came in the front door- because this is the CITY motherfucker. A guy could get SHOT just sliding down your chimney unannounced! These new owners wouldn’t be seeing this history and it needed to go somewhere…

Great things happened at 1802, an infinite variety  of gestures grand and small, growing pains and lots of juice stains on the carpet.  And there it is, the irony of all ironies- the woman who hated that house from day one gets the most crippling phantom pains once it’s gone.  The best surprises, of course, are the ones you don’t see coming- and that house managed to get a stranglehold on me while I was busy doing other things.  It started as a hazy idea, rough around the edges and out of focus, but then in sharpened, came together, righted itself and made it clear. You may like other houses, shit, you may love them and all their splendor, but you will never grow up, out and over a place like me with my uneven floors, my classic woodwork and bad overhead dim lighting.  So own it Duffy, you’ll always have a little love for 1802, no matter how hard you try to fight it.


Filed under 1802 strikes again, city people become country people, don't say I told you so, home, I don't miss the rats, moving

Today I Almost Choked to Death on A Mini Tootsie Roll

The last two days I’ve fluctuated between being kind of sad and then having little mini rage strokes over something that really isn’t that big of a deal. It’s the kind of thing that my parents used to deal with by shrugging and saying “oh well, good luck”, while I, on the other hand, just run the problem over and over in my mind making it sound more like the end of days each time it comes out of the rinse cycle of my grey matter.

To add a little levity to the situation I decided to take a drive to my local market to see the new displays of Halloween candy. I was especially enamored of the large pack of Tootsie Roll “Midgees” and thought about how good it would make me feel to inhale a pack of these in less than 24 hours.

TAKE THAT PROBLEM! I have a rich brown bag of gooey chocolate-like treats that I’m going to enjoy now while I block you out and pretend you don’t exist!

And so I began the ritual of unrolling each candy and gingerly popping it in my mouth to savor it’s chewy legacy. Each time I’d finish one, I’d toss a new one in – conveniently forgetting about how it’s predecessor had stuck to my teeth and almost pulled out two fillings while attempting to chew.

The problem with candy in bulk is that you feel obligated to eat the entire thing or it was a waste of money. And here is where my guilt over uneaten food, my desire to drown my first world problem in sugar and my choice of only my two dogs for company, all joined together to almost become my undoing.

Two Tootsie rolls made one by excessive saliva, cemented my jaws nearly shut and caused a tsunami of tangy tootsie roll flavored spit to drip down the wrong pipe. This triggered a coughing fit, and in my haste to draw in a breath the sludge like substance that had once been the candy slid down the back of my throat and blocked my breathing. During this life or death episode my smaller dog just looked at me cautiously and my larger one snored in the warm sun of an beautiful October day.

My flailing and sputtering around confused and frightened them, and they moved as far away from me as possible.

After about ten seconds, that seemed like twenty minutes in the exaggeration storytelling portion of my head, I dislodged the blockage and gouged out what remained of the Tootsie sludge from my mouth. I wanted to talk to my dogs about how close they had come to just sitting there and watching me die, but became fascinated with the cement like quality of the substance I’d just picked out of my jowls and wisdom teeth. Tootsie Rolls are the superglue of the candy world, and don’t you forget it or you too could be the corpse they find face down surrounded by sad dogs….


Filed under dogs that don't help you when you choke, dying alone and covered in candy, tootsie rolls, your first world problems are really pathetic



One of the most underrated aspects of owning a dog is being able to do simple things for them that inexplicably give them the joyous euphoria they so clearly experience from these small nuggets.

Leave the house for five minutes, and come home to the most rapturous welcome back party you’ve ever seen.

Hand them a treat and they will sit obediently for six hours, frozen in the right position in the hope that there is another one hidden in your pocket that will materialize if they do everything just right.

Now imagine if you have a doggie who is suffering some sort of pain and you are in charge of the meds that will reduce the discomfort. You have just become the Pablo Escobar of the canine world.

I know that outdated drug lord reference is a result of watching Johnny Depp’s “Blow” one too many times and that anyone not born before 1980 might have to google it, but trust me, in his day the guy was really at the top of his game.

Anyway, my expensive, but needy lap dog developed some sort of “degenerative neck disorder” common for her breed and now I have inherited the task of medicating her every 6-8 hours. I’m in a constant state of pain panic, worrying that every time I can’t be there with the pills there will be a horrific scene of sadness and pity. And of course my fears are pretty much right on the money- each time I’ve screwed it up, I’ve returned to a crippled looking ball of wailing dog agony. It’s fair to say that it’s pretty sad.

Therefore, I now come armed with a cabinet full of painkillers and muscle relaxers that would impress even the most serious Drugstore Cowboys (see that? See how I used that?) and my goofy looking puppy floats around here high as a kite and loose as a goose…..

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The Department of Motor Vehicles Horror Story

There are nights when I’m sure most of us sit around and ruminate over things that happened and how we could have gotten a different result in any given situation. What happens, though, if you and a large group of captive citizens are essentially locked in a hot windowless concrete room, forced to sit in order of arrival moving steadily from chair to chair as you inch your way closer to the first stage of beginning your drivers license renewal – and there is a real and very terrible body horror issue?
I bet you thought to yourself, -” gee, here comes another waiting in line all day story about how rude and unhelpful DMV employees are, blah, blah, blah..”

No. This is not that story.

This is more like a “how far would you go *not* to sit in a puddle of someones crotch sweat pooled in the indentation of the next chair up?” type of case scenario.

As you may have deduced, I recently had to renew my drivers license and while I was there I noticed a new and very efficient system where they moved the applicants into small rooms by groups thereby eliminating the long winding lines we are normally forced to stand in eternally.
The older folks didn’t tucker out and give up because their oxygen tanks had run out and no one was complaining about sore backs or hurting feet but I started noticing that more than one DMV dweller was beginning to sweat profusely.

Someone remarked at the two hour point that it was getting unbearably hot and that we hadn’t moved an inch- to which four intense looking DMV employees just sneered and rolled their eyes before summoning another put upon guy to go fetch a fan.

They needn’t have bothered.

The dinging bell and robotic voice that called out our numbers began to roll, and we were off. One by one we played a perverse game of musical chairs until I heard a woman in the back yelp in protest. “oh no you don’t. I’m not sitting in that.”

Because we were all jammed in together, human curiosity trumped any sort of privacy or decency protocols that would’ve normally been in place and the entire room pivoted around to stare at the nightmare.

A chair soaked in ass sweat.

I thought for a moment that perhaps made to sit too long, someone had lost control of their bladder and terrified they’d lost their coveted place on line chose to try and hide the evidence. Except the very clear culprit- the woman who had obviously just moved from seat 8c to 8b wasn’t having any of it.

She just up and moved like she had no part in leaving a small lake in her previous home.

“I said, I’m not sitting in that.”

Crotch tsunami continued to ignore her, and read her Yoga magazine.

Finally, a DMV maintenance guy swept in to see if he could remedy the situation by providing a rag and some disinfectant but it didn’t satisfy the woman who would now forever be in the wake of the water maker.

What the hell do you do?

We moved again.

Another less impressive, but still wet seat awaited the woman who was only armed with a rag and the emotional scars of having to clean the juice off the last seat she was forced to sit in.
Finally, having had to look into the face of something horrible, then having had to clean it up and sit in its wiped down aftermath- she cracked.

Handing the crumpled dirty rag to sweaty yoga crotch she told her to mop up her own mess- because she was going home. It was empowering watching her march from our dank concrete prison while we remained stuck there still with the threat of a profusely perspiring ass looming to destroy the next set of people in line.

It was like this person was made of embarrassment Teflon. No matter how many disgusted remarks flew her way they just hit her and gently slid to the floor, much like the water she was leaving behind every where she went.

I could see people starting to worry that their *own* asses might start to sweat putting them in the very unenviable position of being “just like her” and more than one eternal DMV waiter put a leg underneath their rear end to prevent contact with the chair below them.

After what seemed like an eternity, my number glowed red and a frowny DMV employee summoned me to her lair, but not before I glanced down in a panic worried I might have left a little something behind.

Thankfully, I was out of the room before a full out revolt began with an elderly woman insisting that a new chair be brought in due to Yoga lady befouling yet another seat with a particularly generous amount of liquid.

In stunned awe I left to have my photo taken and wondered if there was a hidden camera nearby. No one can listen to that many complaints about a pool of their own vile crotch sweat and keep reading and listening to music. I’d like to think she didn’t hear any of the shrieks of horror, but how could she have not?

Her willful indifference was a sort of liberating lesson about the power of not giving a shit- and a helpful reminder to never sweat on the seat.


Filed under ass sweat, dmv horror stories


I hate silence.

I’m not talking about the lack of activity and noise that happens in the evenings when I’m just winding down or the replenishing solitude of a day alone at the beach.

No, I hate the kind that invades the room where two people are faced with having to deal with each other.

That is where I feel the overwhelming obligation to stamp out the lack of banter with meaningless chatter and insincere curiosity about your life. There is a certain part of me that scribbles a notch in the “personal failure”  column every time I get the feeling that we didn’t have an interaction that kept you happy, entertained and generally having left with warm, fond emotions about the time we were together.

Silence represents failure to communicate and even worse, it means you might be thinking harsh, unkind things about me that I won’t have a chance to remedy.

I’d rather stab myself with a dinner fork than endure the pregnant and uncomfortable lull in conversation caused by two boring tired people who can’t be bothered, therefore I try far too hard to make it memorable.

I mean, do I really care that much about what you must be thinking that I’d pull out all my most charming attributes and virtually exhaust myself so that we won’t suffer the sound of crickets chirping and so that I won’t hear the agonized hum of seemingly vibrating  silence that screams out ” you have lost the opportunity to make a decent impression and caused enormous discomfort for the other person”.? Why, yes….yes I do care that much..


That is one of the reasons I enjoy the familiar company of long time friends and family- the pressure to be “on” is wiped from the map of my day and I can stop the active and stern voices in my head that buzz constantly with worry.

Those of us still plagued with old-school ideas about how and why we feel the need to comfort others  in our presence before worrying about ourselves are probably a dying breed- but somewhere along the line I took this vague 50s housewife mentality and revved it up to the level of needing a nap and a vacation after giving my all to near strangers while I tell those closest to me that I’ll be with them in a minute..


Filed under Uncategorized

Local Contractor Uses Jedi Mind Trick, Convinces Homeowner That She Doesn’t Park in Her Own Garage

There are days I lie on my couch and wonder why I’m so easily swayed by the most subtle suggestions. Then, there are other times I rise up in a fury, angered by a mind that can take anything said by a stranger turn it over and over in contemplation and drop it in the “Well, that could very well be true” bin.

When someone orders you to find them attractive and have sex with them, your common sense alarm bells ring at full tilt and their insistence doesn’t work. Your internal oppositional defiance disorder kicks in, and you make them go away immediately, by either punching them in the throat or using any number of Krav Maga moves you’ve picked up from Splinter Cell over the years. But when a person just walks up to me out of the blue with an off hand “these are not the droids you are looking for” shot, I actually take it into consideration? What the fuck is even wrong with me?

The last time this happened, I had been Svengalied into joining a very inefficient and wildly unbalanced school carpool by a neighborhood dad. On numerous occasions I had laid out the many, varied and compelling reasons why I needed extreme flexibility in at least one of the school drop off schedules and that I could not be counted on because of sports, high school admissions and a hundred other potential factors that could flare up for me during the year. Not only did I drive that carpool route every single day but Monday, I also ended up being the only person participating four days out of the week- with me hauling their kids and no one hauling mine.

Now, it would seem that with my lesson learned and having been around for forty something years I’d have been able to take this and apply it when, after driving up the alleyway, I found that a contractor working on a local home had parked in my garage.

This type of thing is usually easy enough to remedy. I sit parked behind his car and honk my horn a few times to alert him that he’s committed a breach of etiquette almost inexcusable in a city teeming with humanity, where too many vehicles and not enough unmetered parking cause heartbreak and aggravation for its citizens on a daily basis.

But my plan b was much easier, involving nothing more than a quiet wait and the use of my observational skills. From where I sat, I could see that two homes were under major construction and that several contractors were parked in and around the area and because he’d left his vehicle open to load and unload materials he would be right back.

I was feeling very satisfied with myself and the way I was choosing to handle some guy parked in my garage when suddenly he appeared.

“Oh, is this your garage?”

“Why, yes. Yes it is.”

“Hmm. Yes, I’m sorry but it’s just that every time I’m here it’s just sitting there empty, so I’m using it.”

“okay, well I’m home now and I need to park.”

“Well no one is ever here, you don’t usually have a car in there.”

At that point I got in my car to reverse down the alley, allowing him the room to park his truck where ever the fuck he needed to that wasn’t my garage, but I began to think.

Am I never here?

Do I think I spend more time here than I really do?

Yes, it certainly true that I’m out and about quite a bit, but what is the ratio of time spent parked here vs. time spent away?

And on and on, to the point where I actually had a guilt moment about making him park further away from his destination to unload his parcels. At such times you sort of have to wonder how things have gotten to this point in your life that even considering this guy’s statement as a potential valid fact is a very real possibility. You’d think there would be rock solid, concrete certainty about life. Things are, or they are not. There is no grey area or different interpretation of-

Man parks in garage that is not his. He feels no remorse and cleverly shifts dynamic making homeowner question reality.

So here I sit- sipping coffee that is two hours cold and spying out my back windows- silently smiling and talking to myself about how I fell pray to the mind melding expertise of a very persuasive home improvement master and his Jedi technique. I suppose that means he actually wins.


Filed under am I here or not?, contractor outwits homeowner, dirty jedi mind tricks, this is not your garage, you don't deserve to park here