Dinner Date

We reached a collective milestone last weekend:  neither my husband nor I were able to read the restaurant menu at dinner.  We each had our contact lenses in, and sure, the restaurant’s “intimate lighting” was moody and all, but it also precluded our actually reading the menu.  Monday morning I discovered an additional $20 in ambiance: I misread the bill, so I tipped on what I thought was an $84 tab, when it was only $64.  I wasn’t even remotely knocked out by our service, but whatever, she scored big time with an over 50% tip.  Karma, yo.  Nothing like a little in-your-face you’re-getting-old reminder to help a guy (and his wife) celebrate his birthday! Happy birthday, Tom.

We don’t get much time (take much time??) to ourselves these days. Parenting at this stage involves a good deal of transportation and a substantial outlay of money, and not just in the I waaaaaay over-tipped kind of way.  Time between the kids’ activities is spent nearly unconscious in front of some or another screen, grocery shopping or preparing meals. I do a lot of laundry, but too little housework and reading. And much too little time gets spent reinvesting in the relationship at the core of its ensuing madness: the marriage.

So to celebrate another spin around the sun, my husband and I went out for a grown-ups only dinner.   And you know what we didn’t talk about?  We didn’t talk about this–this was the line to get into the city’s top high school’s first night of open house last week.  This was the line 20 minutes before the doors even opened, I mean what the heck?  Is this General Admission for a Barenaked Ladies concert or something?

We also didn’t talk about this–we didn’t talk about football.  We didn’t even talk about baseball!  We didn’t even talk about the MDA Summer Camp Reunion that he and our big kid attended earlier that afternoon.

We talked about this–currently our favorite tree in our yard.  Normally we dislike it, truth be told, because it sports serious botanic attitude about sprouting wherever it feels like sowing its seed in the “lawn.” (Our yard sucks).  But for this week, this one glorious autumnal week, its colors are breathtaking.  #nofilter

We talked about what we were reading, and how we wished we read more and more often.

We talked about my friends metaphorically taking me hostage, and forcing me on an international flight to meet up with them for about 30 hours in Toronto for one crazy overnight.

We talked about next year’s family road trip.  Apparently it’s going to be baseball-themed.  Shut up!  Baseball? No way!

We talked about tennis and his aching back and the chiropractic care he’d sought.

We talked about my flirtation with yoga, my distressed rotator cuff and the physical therapy I’m working through.

We talked about 2017’s medical bills.  Jaysus.

We talked about work, but not in a negative, horribly crabby way, but what challenged us and what we still enjoyed in our careers.

We talked about retirement.  *gulp*

We talked about moving, maybe finding a town a little less insane for high school entrance criteria and with a little more to offer for athletics.  We DO have two children, after all.  And then we talked about needing a home with a first floor bedroom, just in case. . .  Because when you’re me, you never don’t think about MD and maybe your son living with you when he’s an adult.  And when you’re parents, even when you’re away from your kids, you still talk about them a little bit. But then we also talked about what we liked about living in the city.  This view from the lakefront, for example.

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We talked about thinking that at “our age” we’d have more, but that we don’t.  But even without more, we have enough.  Besides love, we still even like each other a lot.  I talk too much and he listens too little, but it works.  We laugh like newlyweds, and in an era of too little happiness for people in our financial stratosphere, we still find humor in nearly every situation.  We still overspend on dinner once in awhile, and spend time talking about what made us two before we were four.  We’re OK.  Minus the not being able to see after the Early Bird Specials dinner hours, maybe even better than OK.

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Every Song I’ve Ever Known Carried In My Bones

On my birthday last year, I ferried a dying bunny to our Humane Society. My husband had tried to save it from its circle-of-life destiny, but got called in to work second shift, so rescue transportation defaulted to me. The bunny breathed its last breath one stop light before the animal rescue’s office. Fun life lesson for the kids right there, and a happy birthday to me, Honey!  Way late in rush hour traffic, we tore up to the kids’ piano lessons, followed that up with a lukewarm, crappy dinner at a restaurant whose best offering that evening was the roving table magician (kill me now). I vowed that would be my last worst birthday.

A couple advance tracks were released last week ahead of BNL’s new album Fake Nudes.  My first listen to Lookin’ Up had me declaring “I’ma see the donut, you can see the hole” the best optimistic lyric ever thrown down.  As I came to know the song, the line “Every song I’ve ever known carried in my bones” hit closer.  That had to have been written for me, I swear. (It wasn’t.)  I never don’t have a song in my head, and I never forget a note of any song I’ve known.
When I know I’ll need a little Wonder Woman for my workday, I make sure to sport my Did I Say That Out Loud? cuff bracelet. DISTOL is my favorite favorite. You already knew that. Embossed on the inside of the bracelet is an extra-special just-for-me message. When I need to feel happy or strong or to be reminded “I got this!” the bracelet reminds me to think I’m invincible (I’m not.) For 2017’s anniversary of being born, I got two new extra-special on the inside just-for-me bracelets from that same incredibly insightful friend.  Music makes things make sense to me. Sometimes I literally wear that on my sleeve.

I don’t forget that I’ve traveled a million miles to land exactly where I am meant to be today (no, not Toronto, silly). Here. Though the path hasn’t been smooth or straight, I’ve meandered at my own pace–the only pace I could possibly have kept–sprinting, sauntering, stuck in an abyss so deep daylight barely penetrated, then soaring among the stars, just depends on the day. I’ve been thinking–which are the songs I’ve carried in my bones? (Dang, I wish I’d written that line first.)  I began a list, not in rank order or anything, just a collection.

No, the fifty songs mapping out my life aren’t all BNL songs. I totally could’ve done that list too, but BNL’s only been with me like 60% of my life, not all my life. Let us not forget the big hair days!

Ed Card

Really, I’ll create any excuse to repost this photo.

I’ve reached a very round, very ending-in-0 age. *sigh*  I’ve been stupid about this stupid number this stupid birthday, but revisiting my days through their very long soundtrack has cast a warm halo of light against my birthday pallor. Some say I don’t look 50 (I love these particular individuals the bestest), but I do feel it.  I’ve adamantly rejected any and all birthday recognition–no party, no family gathering, no dinner.  #2 has football practice til 8 PM anyway, a very handy excuse to blow off September 21, 2017.

Lookin’ Up isn’t officially on the list of songs that changed my life, represented an era, or marked some cornerstone event, but it seeks to refute the belief that dystopia is the only home we have in 2017.  Optimism is not a bad way to rock in a birthday, especially when you’re feeling beat down by the number.  Here’s a song for every candle on my cake–there had better be cake tonight!  And maybe a pair of pink Chuck Taylors.  Wendy’s five decade bday soundtrack beats the hell out of dead wildlife boxed up in the front seat, you guys.

Did I Say That Out Loud? Duh.

When I Fall, I’ve only heard this live once in the 50 or so shows I’ve seen, and they don’t seem to hear all my requests, so I’ll keep asking.  Although to be fair, they did play MY song for me at my last show because I played the “it’s my birthday” age card when I asked.  High five, Kevin Hearn.  You are the best!

Maybe Katie, My second favorite all time song.  This album was released when #1 was exactly one week old.  He had no choice but to be a fan.  I listened to this and classical music exclusively throughout my maternity leave.  The “Do you know everyone you ever swore you’d love for life?” makes me stupid.  The good kind of stupid.

Satellite, Written by, though not recorded by my fave singer, I did catch this live once back I think in the early 2000s.  You guys should RECORD THIS SONG!!!

Toe To Toe, In it for the long haul.

The Love We’re In, Kinda makes my stomach hurt.  In a good way.

Moonstone, Please play this at my funeral.

Odds Are, I listened to this song consecutively for as long as it took me to drive to the neurology clinic the morning that my boy was diagnosed with MD.  Though he sings, “The odds are that we will probably be all right,” he was dreadfully wrong about it for my boy.  This song is both a joy and a dirge.  I didn’t listen to it for a real long time after that morning.

A Word For That, I took this YouTube video, annotated it with the lyrics, and use it my new SLP trainings.  The whole district knows my freak flag for Barenaked Ladies flies high.  Frenulum? Filtrum? Uvula?  Speech pathologists, unite.

Blame It On Me, The song I always have cued up to play first when I get in my car on my birthday.  Yes, I actually do that.  No, I don’t think I can offer a logical explanation.

September, by Earth, Wind & Fire.  Do you remember, the twenty-first night of September?  Um, yeah I do.  The first one, probably not as well as my mother does, but this is about songs important to me.

They Don’t Know, the Tracey Ullman version.  I cannot perform this loudly enough.  I avoided quotes around perform in a show of remarkable restraint.

People Get Ready, the Jeff Beck version sung by Rod Stewart.

Take Us Home, Walking through our park with earbuds in, I remember where I was standing when I connected the lyrics, then bolted home to tell my husband about the new song I loved. He cared less than I did (quelle surprise!), but played along anyway.  I wish it had been written when we got married.

You Give Love A Bad Name, Bon Jovi.  Changed my life.  And my hair.  (See above)

In These Arms, Bon Jovi.  My bracelets make a brief appearance in this video.  It felt like magic to stick around after the concert to be part of the video shoot.

Silent Lucidity, Queensryche.  Just trust me.

I4U, Warp Drive.  A MKE band with hair more majestic than even mine, this song just. . .  Ahhhh, to be 21 again knowing what I know now.

What They Mean, Donovan Woods.  Cried the first time I heard it with my baby standing right there beside me.

Cheat On Me, by Bad Boy. Another homegrown band with a measure of national attention, Bad Boy’s heyday was just before my coming of age and reaching the legal drinking age.  I begged an old boyfriend to make his band play this song when they played out, and good guy that he was, they did. It was probably my #1 for twenty years.

Madalaine, by Winger. My first real boyfriend gave me this album during the summer of 1988. Shortly thereafter he cheated on me up at college, and I played this whole album over and over to mend my broken heart.  I was 20. What the hell did I know?

Take Off, Bob & Doug McKenzie and Geddy Lee.  How am I not Canadian?  I shit you not when I tell you that my parents Visqueened off our kitchen and we played Beer Hunter when I was in middle school.  I’m not saying they displayed great judgment or anything, but we didn’t actually drink the beer, just get soaked by it.  It’s probably not a song anyone on earth would feel a real sentimental attachment to, but SCTV played big during my middle school years.  That my cousin, THE Uncle Paulie, was part of it brings me great joy.

Don’t Let Him Go, REO Speedwagon. Eighth grade. A great album opener. My grandma purchased this LP for me for my middle school graduation. I would’ve loved seeing upright Esther rolling into Mainstream Records to ask after Hi Infidelity.  Hee hee!

Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Queen.  Queen!

Real Love, Mary J. Blige. I had a guest stint teaching aerobics and chose this song for sit ups and butt lifts. I taught aerobics!  Hysterical.

Hold The Line, Toto.  Just love. 

Can’t Get It Out Of My Head, ELO  Middle school swoon, round and round.

Always With Me, Always With You, Joe Satriani.  Guitar viruoso lead with an unexpected time signature.

Jessie’s Girl, Rick Springfield. A good song is a good song.

I’ve Done Everything For You, by Rick Springfield.  The song for a woman in the middle of divorce.

I Wanna Be Loved, by House of Lords.  You’ve never heard this song.  It’s OK, I have.

Heaven Tonight, Yngwie Malmsteen. Shut up. Sure, he shreds the fretboard with probably 24,853 too many notes, but the vocals? Joe Lynn Turner can sing, yo. The lower register of his voice lives in that range that makes me loopy.

How Much Love, Vixen.  I had the hair, but not the pipes.  I love this song.  Still.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, John Denver & The Muppets.  Sweetest. Version. Ever.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Barenaked Ladies and Sarah Maclaughlan. I hate her voice, but it so works in this performance. The first December I was introduced to this song, there’s me driving, belting it out and wishing to the stars and back that I could harmonize with Barenaked Ladies like she does here. Except she screws up the ending.  Geeeeez.

Claire de Lune, Claude Debussy. Perhaps the most beautiful melody of all time. It reminds me of my big kid’s newborn days. So beautiful it almost hurts, almost ethereal.

The Waltz Finale and Apotheosis from The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky. I cry each time the ballet nears its end. Tchaikovsky’s (has to be drug-induced) ballet finale soars, cymbals crash and the dancers’ costumes, the children, the snow falling from above the stage paints a picture that overwhelms the senses.  I’m listening to it right now.  I don’t care it’s not Christmas; it’s my birthday, I can be out of season if I like.

Christine Sixteen, Kiss. Fifth grade me obviously had no idea what this song was really about. But it prompted my first album purchase, Kiss’ Love Gun. And nope, had no idea what that was really about either!  I was eleven, you guys. When I think about my parents listening from the other room, I’m embarrassed retrospectively!  For us all!

Man! I Feel Like A Woman, Shania Twain.  I may have been guilty of the girl crush I was accused of having on Shania back in the late 90s.  She was so beautiful and perfect and wrote some really fun songs.  This is probably one of the only country(ish) albums I own.

Jellyroll, Blue Murder.  For a while I thought it was two different songs.  Just captures a time is all.  My best friend and her mom’s light blue Cadillac convertible whose length just about covered a city block!

Where The Streets Have No Name, U2.  I’m not an insane U2 fan, but its live performance will rattle your bones.

Popular, from Wicked, performed by Kristin Chenoweth.  Sang this nonstop when the kids were small and Wicked was ubiquitous.  Didn’t your preschoolers sing showtunes with you?

Tonight It’s You, Cheap Trick. Damn, I love this song.  Do you watch The Walking Dead?  Do you know how Negan would intone with his insane swagger “Damn?”  That’s how you read “Damn, I love this song” here.

The Spirit of Radio, Rush.  First hard rock song I obsessed over.  I actually stole a little bubble gum record album of Permanent Waves from Target because it had the lyrics printed in it.  Yes, Rush moved me to petty theft.  Thanks a lot, Geddy, Alex, and Neil.

Limelight, Rush.  Not enough exclamation marks to punctuate how this song lives inside me.

Subdivisions, Rush.  Holy effing high school.

Never Surrender, Triumph.  A high school friend of mine and I used to hang out so we could listen to this tape.  We were like sophomore year philosophers talking about how Triumph always had a positive message in their songs.  We were such dorks.  Dorks who were correct, but. . .

Borderline, Bon Jovi.  When I understood that you could purchase import records with unreleased in the US tracks?  My ears are probably still bleeding.

Car Wash, Rose Royce. It was the first not-a-kid song that my big kid owned for himself. I have the fondest, sweetest memories of him strapped into his booster seat, clapping the opening beat as we tooled around between day care and tot lots and errands during our minivan years.

Hey, Soul Sister, by Train. This was my little guy’s first favorite not-a-kid song.

And some things DO get old. Me , for example. Found his flipping through my Happy Notes note pad. Happy birthday to me.


 

I Couldn’t Stand Being Left Out

I mentioned last week that I didn’t believe I had substantively much to offer here these days.  I’m saving my blogself for “The Road Trip” which is to commence in T-minus three days.  After rerouting no fewer than fifty-three times, at last our hotels are booked, activities planned and purchased where that could be done prior to arrival, and Caleb the Wonderdog has visited his day care provider, AKA my husband’s brother and his family, to acclimate.  *pleasedon’twreckalltheirshitpleasedon’twreckalltheirshitpleasedon’twreckalltheirshit* 

I’m 82.4% certain that this adventure is going to be pretty cool, and only 17.6% (but often it feels exactly like 100%) that my failure will go down in the annals of family history as epic.

I’ve dubbed 2017’s summer The Summer of Appointments.  I cannot recall two consecutive days where I haven’t trotted one or both children to a symphony of piano lessons, a dentist, orthodontist, orthopedic surgeon, pediatrician, emergency room, physical therapist, imaging department, or sports medicine specialist appointment.  And that doesn’t even include baseball practice or games, and my children do NOT maintain freakishly overscheduled lives.  Despite having been fitted for an orthodontic retainer of my very own at MY AGE, I must have been feeling neglected, left out.  I wanted my very own orthopedic injury.  Kid #1 has a broken collarbone and Kid #2 has that separation in his bone growth plate, but what about me??  I want to be like the cool kids.  Daddy, I want an Oompa Loompa, I want an Oompa Loompa right now!

Somehow I’ve destroyed my rotator cuff.

And yeah, I say “somehow” because I have not the slightest inkling how the injury occurred, aside from just being old(er).  Naturally I blame the dog for having pulled fiercely when I walked him, because he’s a total jerk on his purple leash, and only walks decently, OK, really, like a canine prince on his Weiss Walkie leash.  His misbehavior is the most likely culprit, legit.  In the runner-up spot for destroying my shoulder is yoga, but I do not believe that my centering has taken me this far off-center.  I don’t.  I don’t know how I wake up one day having lost the capacity to move, but who am I to argue with nature?  It hurts.  Like makes-me-cry hurts when I engage in certain angles of movement.  Getting old and overuse is Bachelor #3 for etiology, but I just don’t wanna go there. Crap. 

A short list of things rendered excruciating by a wrecked rotator cuff:

  1. Sleeping.  Holy shit you guys, what I wouldn’t do to sleep on my side or belly.  Or not wake up yelping in pain.
  2. Walking the Wonderdog, although with the Weiss Walkie leash, it’s mostly OK.  I feel like the Weiss people should flip me a couple bucks for my endorsement here.  Right?
  3. Putting on or removing a bra.  I have preparatory tears as I consider retiring to bed tonight.
  4. Sitting erect.
  5. Typing on my laptop.  I hate this computer, but until this week it hasn’t inflicted physical pain, just emotional.
  6. Hold the phone.  This is not figurative language.  It hurts to hold my cell phone in my hand at the position and angle needed to you know, see it.
  7. Washing my hair (and washing the floor, but let’s not fool around here–I’m no more likely to wash the floor now than I was before).  Most hygiene tasks are complicated–shaving my underarms or applying deodorant leap to mind–and if you think that’s too much information, clearly you are new here.  Welcome. How are ya?
  8. Cutting food with a knife and stirring.  Also, cutting pizza hurts like hell.
  9. Eating.  But I like to eat, so I suck it up.
  10. Pretty much extending my arm more than about 40 degrees in any direction, crossing midline, raising my arm, and moving my neck to the left.  Super for driving. And being.

I’m a quirky kind of ambidextrous.  I consider myself a lefty because I write and eat with my left hand; I also bat and play tennis left-handed.  But I throw with my right hand, cut food with my right when I eat (but when I prepare food, the chef’s knife is in my left), and I use a right-handed scissors.  What I do with one hand I absolutely cannot do with the other though. Drat my quirky.  It’s my left shoulder that’s jacked up, so my body is so confused.  And so, so tired.  I’d donate my spleen to sleep longer than three connected hours. Do you even need a spleen?  Like a lot?

Boo-hoo, Wendy, put on a brave face, load up with ibuprofen, and keep moving.  I am.  Like my firstborn, I am badass with pain.  At my husband’s insistence however, I made an appointment with my general practitioner yesterday.  I say my husband made me, but when I am willing to go see a medical professional for myself, you know I’m one step from the grave.  I don’t go to the doctor unless it’s categorically necessary.  Quirky one, right here.  But I went, was sent for x-rays, and referred to an orthopedic/sports med doc of my very own.  My appointment with the orthopedist?  September 14.  I’ll be paralyzed or have descended into madness from lack of sleep by then, so I’m gonna have to trust WebMD for all my physical therapy needs.  (Also, I’m gonna totally possibly hijack my son’s PT appointment this morning and inundate my ballplayer’s therapist with “hypotheticals” about rotator cuff injuries which are totally in line with pitcher’s rehabs, so my questions won’t sound completely out of left field. It’ll be our little secret though, OK?)

After a star-studded June and July, the Explanation of Benefits statements from our health insurance carrier have begun to roll in, and give it up for Wendy! I only snot-cried like once.  I don’t get paid again until mid-September, such is the life of a public educator, so I’m not all summer eager-beavery about all the checks I am going to have to write.  The Summer of Appointments price tag will run upwards of $4,000 out of pocket.  Maybe that’s not a king’s ransom for you, in which case, you’re quite fortunate.  It’s not going to bankrupt us, but I can’t say it doesn’t sting.  Oh, and I have “good” insurance.

As I checked into my imaging appointment yesterday, the receptionist informed me that they required a $50 co-pay prior to my admittance, and the facade cracked.  The guy next to me was yelling at the woman checking him in about not broadcasting his address (you know how they ask you questions just specific enough to confirm you’re who you purport to be? “And Mrs. Weir, you still live on South Sesame Street?” or “Your phone number ends in 7777?”), and I needed a moment.  Just a quick moment to collect myself.  My eyes prickled from pain, but also from that feeling of “Stop it, weird over-reacty guy! I just want to get out of here, stop yelling at her!” I stared intently into my purse, searching for please-don’t-cry-right-this-second.  Found it!

I’m down, but not out. Never out. I’m the mom, ain’t no time for pain. I got some great mail this week, and mail you can touch and hold from a friend who always seems to know just what you need never fails to buoy my spirits. And my shoulder. 

In my mind, my two sons and I are lined up á la those see/hear/speak no evil monkeys, except we’re bandaged, casted, and splinted. I’m the short, hunched over one in the center.  A modern day visage of Larry, Moe, and Curly, us three. 

When Did Everything Start To Hurt?

Shower revelation du jour:  My knees aren’t 100% debilitating anymore!  Woot!  My neck and shoulders though?  They have morphed from semi-lithe in their movement to feeling and functioning like granite slabs.  I am rock-solid, but not in the hot in-your-20s rock-solid kind of way.  No, no.  My upper torso and neck hurt so unbearably that I’m a danger behind the wheel of my car.  I worry I cannot rotate my head, and thank the Ford Motor Company for its cameras and sensors. Holy crap, you guys, what the hell is happening to me?  PS–I say “Woot” about 7 times per day, and I just became painfully aware of my overuse of it.  Pretty much guarantees I’m moving on to my next verbal tic.  Funny how our brains have a way of taking care of such matters, no?  Anyway.

Sitting among the team dads at Friday night’s baseball practice, I listened to one of the guys lament how much time it’s been since he’d played little league himself.  He announced his shock and awe at having played ball himself at the diamond at which the kids played Thursday evening.  “I can’t believe it’s been twenty-five years since I played at Wilson,” he added wistfully.  His next utterance contained the words, “I can’t believe I graduated high school in 2000.”  Freakin’ Methuselah, that guy.

When you have babies as old as I did when I had mine, you don’t know you’re the old one until your child’s first day of K4.  I never felt as conspicuous in my age than at that moment.  Some of my children’s friend’s parents were oh, about 21 when their children began K4.  This is not to suggest teen pregnancy is the most stable path to starting a family; it is a path however, a not uncommon one at that.  My parents were 21 and 22 when I was born, not atypical in their generation, and I did OK.  I’m not blind, so I know I’m pretty much always the oldest mom in the room.  Sometimes it’s a little more in your face though.  Like last Friday night for example, when another of the dads, in an ostensibly “helpful” effort to point out that Dad A wasn’t that old, complained that he’d graduated in 1991.  I don’t even know how I managed, but I remained silent.  As much of a big mouth as I am, sometimes being the only girl among men and boys keeps me mum.  You learn a lot by listening, by the way.

A blogger friend of mine writes about being a grandmother.  She’s my age.  *ouch*

It’s OK that I’m old–any day above dirt is a good one, right?  Obviously I’d rather be old than among the not still breathing, but when did being begin to hurt so much??  The kick in the ass at 44 was to learn my vision was, in a word, awful.  Thinking I might benefit from readers, I learned instead that I had astigmatism, and was, BOOM, blind as a bat. I ran a few 5Ks at 45, and felt quite accomplished until I couldn’t walk from this hip thing I’d developed. The last few years have brought the joy of hot flashes into my life, and super swell coordination that leaves me falling down (and/or up) the stairs with frequency enough that my children barely even look up anymore.  And now, just when my knees allow me to come off the injured reserve, I’m a menace to pedestrians and motorists because I got this achin’ back. Get off my lawn too, sonny!  Oy.

Any day above dirt IS  a good one, true.  Sure, it takes me a little longer to bound from claw my way out of bed these days, but that’s better than the alternative.  Plus, I’m starting to believe that having a kitchen in the basement is good for my cardiovascular/neuromuscular health (read: my ass).  Hey, speaking of neuromuscular health, my kid has his semi-annual visit to the neurologist next week, and I haven’t even puked yet.  Score one for the old lady, huh?

Where do you keep your dishwasher?  Apropos of nothing regarding aches, pains or anything else contained herein, I offer this photo of our kitchen in its current state of undress to illustrate maybe why I’m a little fragile these days.