Tuesday, November 1, 2011


No, I haven't gone anywhere.  Unfortunately, we are without power.  Since Saturday.  So I'm more working on things like warmth and potable water at the moment.  But I promise there's a story to come out of the semi-coherent madness into which I have descended!  Eventually.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Husband is a man of many talents.  Running is one.  Math is another.  Burying dead cats is yet a third. 

Lying?  Not so much.  Seriously, the man has the dishonesty meter of a toddler.  Like, if we played hide and go seek, he’d completely convince himself that I wouldn’t be able to see him if he hid under a blanket in the middle of the room.  (And because I am the wonderful wife I am, I wouldn’t stop to wonder what the heck we were doing playing hide and seek in the first place but would play the whole ‘now WHERE is HUSBAND?’ routine while looking right at the blanket as he giggles quietly for a good 5 minutes.  Then I’d walk away and see how long he’d keep hiding.  Come on, a girl can’t be Glinda the Good Witch all the time.)

Husband’s lack of any deceptive ability hasn’t really come into play in recent years, because what does a math teacher really have to lie about?  Proofs?  The value of x?  Try to convince a group of gullible freshman that 2+2 doesn’t REALLY equal 4?

In short, we’ve been floating along on a lazy deception-less river.  Until.

My first clue that something might be up came when Husband got up at 6 a.m. on Sunday to go on a long run.  The long run in and of itself wasn’t weird – Husband thinks it’s fun to churn his legs endlessly for hours at a time on a regular basis.  Sneaking out of the house at 6 a.m. for said run, however, was.

Being as it was 6 a.m. on a Sunday, I rolled over and went back to sleep.  Woke up an hour later, got the kids up and moving, still no Husband.  At 8:30, I finally started wondering where he was.

Husband rolled in at about 8:45.  I asked, as I usually do, how far he ran. 

“20 miles,” he replied as he ducked his head.

Huh, I thought.  Husband hasn’t run that much since……WAIT A MINUTE!!!!

Me:  “Hey, um, Husband?”

Husband:  “Yeah, Al?”

Me:  “So what’s going on?  You going to tell me why you’re running 20 miles?”

Husband:  (ducks head) “Noooo, no reason.”

At this point, Husband morphed into The Boy, dimples and all.  My fellow parents know The Look – that moment when a little kid is trying with all of his or her might to not look at you while still lying to your face. 

Me:  “Out with it.  You’re training for something.  An iron man?  Marathon?”

Husband:  “Uhhhh, I have to take a shower.”

Me:  “Nope, sorry.  Out with it.”

Husband:  “Weelllllll, there may or may not be a marathon in Harrisburg in 2 weeks and I may or may not have signed up for it.  See ya!”

Now, the loyal readers among you may remember my 7th layer of Hell experience when I took The Kiddos up to wait 3 hours to watch Husband fly by for 10 seconds in the Boston Marathon.  We’ll be supporting in spirit, thank you very much.

The training on the down-low isn’t even the best part.  Later, Girl #2 breaks the news of Husband’s plan for marathon day.

What’s this, you ask?  Husband wasn’t going to TELL you he was running a marathon?  What would have happened on marathon day?

Bear with me.

Apparently, the brilliant plan goes something as follows. 

Step 1:  Husband sneaks out of the house to train for the next three weeks. 

Step 2:  On marathon day, Husband sneaks out of the house extra early to drive the 90 minutes or so out to the marathon.

Step 3:  I wake up on marathon day, freak out because Husband is gone.

Step 4:  I go to my cell phone to call 911 because Husband is gone.

Step 5:  Upon opening my phone case, I am instantly comforted because my thoughtful husband has sent me a TEXT MESSAGE telling me that he has gone to RUN A MARATHON.

Step 6:  Locks changed and activated.

Nope, STILL not the best part.  Husband tells Mom of his brilliant Bond-esque plan over the weekend.  Now, my mother has known me for almost 34 years.  She knows that I don’t like the unknown or change.   Especially not surprises or changes to the general routine.  Yes I may be scattered, but I like to know what’s going on for any given day.  Change and I do not go well together.

Yet, knowing all of that, Mom thinks Husband’s plan is a fine idea.  Heartily AGREES WITH it. 

“Sure, I know she doesn’t like the unknown or surprises and all, but you’ll send a TEXT MESSAGE, right?  She’ll be FINE with it!!”

Some people connive to cheat, Husband connives to run a frieking marathon.  So I guess in the grand scheme of things, I still have it pretty damn good.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Screws fall out all the time, the world is an imperfect place

I have the pleasure of supervising the in-school suspension room every day from 8:36 until 9:21 a.m.  Usually there isn’t much excitement, as our guests are still half-asleep at this teenage-early hour.  Yesterday started off as no exception – until it happened.

I had four guests, who were scattered around the room engaged in various stages of sullen learning.  I was getting ready to start the bathroom rotation when suddenly the lights flickered and went out.  Shrieks from rooms up and down the hall told me that the entire school had lost power.

Now, a bit of background about this particular room, if I may.  The room is windowless and unadorned, save for one freaky-deaky space-Einstein-rainbow mural on the back wall.  Therefore, when the lights went out, the room was instantly plunged into complete darkness. 

After a few minutes, an announcement came over the loudspeaker that the outage stemmed from issues at the electric company.  Long story short, duration unknown, stay in your current class.  Ducky.

At this point, I had a couple of choices.  I could bring the kiddos out into the hall, like many of the inner-windowless-room sections were doing.  It was loud, it was chaotic – I preferred our dark little cocoon.  So, first decision made – we stay.  But, given that we now had an indeterminate amount of future time together, how to keep the kids relatively occupied so they don’t go all desk-throwy on me?

The answer was simple – we prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse.

Our first problem was lighting the room.  A kind administrator provided us with a flashlight and I turned my computer screen into the room so there was some light.  The kids did an admirable job of problem solving, working together to figure out the placement of the flashlight that would provide the most light.  (Physics!)

Next up in our one-room society, forming a government.  I intervened and declared a military dictatorship, imposing myself as supreme leader.  I am happy to report that it was a bloodless coup.  My reign was brief, yet effective.  Another couple of hours and I very likely would have rummaged up a captain’s hat and called myself Muammar. (World cultures!)

I gave my subjects some time for exercise – we went into the hall and I gave each of them their own hallway tile.  They commanded their own little island, but couldn’t leave the island.  Much like the Russian Police, I was stern…but fair.

We were humming along nicely making our own little Brave New World (literature!) when the subject of defense came up.  If (WHEN) then zombies came a knockin’, we needed a defense plan.  Throwing desks wouldn’t work (and I didn’t want the issue of practicing to cross anyone’s minds), so my little MacGyvers started to brainstorm game plans with everyday objects around the room.  An old school 007 black umbrella could make an excellent spear.  A wallet chain could be swung around like a mace.  Desks could be used as a barricade (NO THROWING!). 

In short, we spent 2 hours problem-solving and collaborating – we had morphed into our own little Breakfast Club.  (Does that make me Principal Vernon?  I’m NOT being Allie Sheedy.  And Molly Ringwald was a brat, too.  What the heck was her ‘talent,’ anyway?  I never understood the lipstick thing.  Forget the mean principal, I call being the elephant trunk lamp kid.)  They learned about physics and government and I learned that when the Zombie Apocalypse does happen, I want these people in my corner.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


This June will mark the 12th  year of blissful union for me and Husband.  This not only means that those who took the ‘under’ on us making it 10 years had to pay up, but also tells me that we’re doing something right.  Or at least enough right that we are able to tolerate each other’s company on a relatively consistent basis.

When we got married, I remember being told “never go to bed angry.”  Um, ok, not to burst any bubbles, but that’s crap.  First, I like sleep.  A lot.  Also, I’m not especially one for big heartfelt conversations.  I don’t need a good cry every so often and I don’t complain with the girls about how silly those men are with their football and other sports-related things. 

So, yeah, talking it out isn’t something that really works for us.  I can get my message across just as well by huffily pulling ALL the covers over to my side of the bed and crocodile-rolling myself into a puffy cocoon of downy anger.  And then we wake up fine and life goes on.

However, there are times when even my black heart takes a bit of time for sentimentality.  Like last night, for example.  I was home sick all day convalescing and finally taking in the magic that is “Mad Men.”  (Seriously – I would have been lost as a woman in the 1960s.  “Call me “sweetheart” one more time.  Go ahead.  I’ll cut you with your stupid skinny tie.”)  Once Husband got back from another running-related event, I filled him in on the bulk of Season 1 as we finished out the first DVD set.  (“Yes, he’s the boss.  No, not him.  HIM.  Yes, the boss.  Of the AD AGENCY.  No, he’s not sleeping with her.  He’s sleeping with HER.  Come on now, people, pay attention.”)

Now because he still has more than his fair share of a sixth grade boy’s maturity level, Husband became quite entranced by the wool-blend dresses worn by the secretaries on the series.  He decided that the word of the evening would therefore be “bum.”  Yes, Husband spent a good 2 hours saying “bum” every 2 minutes and giggling to himself. 

I’m all for a good fanny joke, but I just wanted to sit and watch the fine character development on the show.  And I had invested about 12 hours in Season 1 at this point, so there was no going back.  I tried the patented Teacher Look.  Since Husband is a teacher himself, he was immune. 

Then I started getting kicky.  Nothing.  (“Bum.  Hee hee hee.”  KICK  “Ow!.......Bum.  Hee hee hee.)

Finally, mercifully, it was time to go to sleep.  (Wait, what?  Why didn’t I just turn off the show earlier if he was bothering me?  Um, hello?  Have we met?  Talked about the OCD-ish need I have to finish stuff like that?  OK, then.)

My head hit the pillow and just as I closed my eyes, I heard it.

“Bum.”  (giggle giggle giggle)

Crocodile roll, activate.


I was all prepared to go to sleep when I remembered.  No, not that I shouldn’t go to bed angry.  Something much more basic.

“Crap, you have an invitational tomorrow, don’t you?”


“OK, well just in case the bus crashes and you die, the last words I say to you can’t be calling you an idiot.  I love you.”

“Love you too, Al.”

And that’s our secret – infantile comments with more than a splash of gallows humor. 

Oh, and a pledge when we got married that we’re only in it for 50 years.  Then we can both trade in for younger models.  Only 38 ½ years left!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Running on empty

Yesterday the Kiddos and I put on our school colors, gathered up signs and trekked over to cheer the cross country team Husband coaches on in a big meet.  The girls did great and the Kiddos were excellent little cheerleaders.  Their favorite chant was to encourage passing runners to “Work it!  Work it!  Work it!”  as The Boy added a jaunty little hip toss to the cheer.  It was classic. 

(I’d make a Pretty Woman reference, but as Toddlers & Tiaras  has that market cornered, I’ll hold back.  OK seriously, though – a woman dresses her toddler as Julia Roberts’ character for the ‘outfit of choice’ portion of the competition.  You know the one, the blue/white dress from the first scene of the movie?  Complete with the thigh-high patent leather boots.  And the woman’s response to the [wholly appropriate and warranted] uproar?  That the dress covered her daughter more than most of the bathing suits in the competition.  Um…..OK, but that’s not as much the issue as the fact that you dressed your toddler up like a hooker.  But thanks for playing.  Have fun making the beehive wig for the next competition when you tart your kid up like Amy Winehouse.  You’re right, completely appropriate, because she was a great singer and all.)

Overall, the Kiddos did great yesterday for what amounted to 90 minutes of hanging around with sporadic bursts of cheering.   The same cannot be said, however, for the last time we went to support Husband in this whole running thing.

Husband belongs to that special group of insane individuals who think it’s perfectly reasonable and acceptable to run 26.2 miles at a spurt.  Insanity aside, he’s actually quite good at it.  He ran the NY Marathon as his first and, just two marathons later, qualified for Boston.

Because I’m nothing if not supportive (Husband: snort), the Kiddos and I made the trip up to Beantown to cheer Husband on.  At the time, Girl #1 was 9, Girl #2 was 6 and The Boy was 4.  Yeah, I don’t know what the hell I was thinking either.

The day started off great.  Husband left us heartwarming sappy notes about how we’d all be with him on every mile, blah blah blah, and we watched the start of the race on TV.  Husband projected his finish to be at a bit over 3 hours (insane!), so the time came for us to head a few blocks over to the race route and stake out a viewing spot.  The four of us headed out, psyched to see Husband in action.

Now, the Boston Marathon is run on Patriot’s Day every year.  (Great when you live in Boston, because many places give the day off.)  Patriot’s Day falls in mid-April.  Which, for those of you that may not have lived in that great city, just grazes the tail end of winter. 

I remembered this, but my layering skills were not what they were when we actually lived in Mass.  One pair of gloves just wasn’t enough.  Windbreakers and sweatshirts were rendered useless in about 20 minutes.  We had a good 90 minutes to wait and already the Kiddos were complaining about the cold.

We had a nice spot about 2 blocks from the finish and right up against the railing.  But the Kiddos failed to appreciate the prime location.  Nor did they really care when the elite male and female runners came by. 

Girl #2 gave up and started full-on meltdown mode after about 45 minutes.  Her coping strategy became crouching on the sidewalk and gripping the bars of the cattle-chute barrier, staring forlornly across the street and whimpering for her father.  She eventually started inching her way into her jacket, to conserve her warmth.

Girl #1 tried for some height.  She stood on a lamppost pedestal and refused to come down.  Ducky.  But at this point, I was in survival mode.  I could reach her and she wasn’t screaming, so I let the kid check out the world from a different perspective for a while. 

The Boy lasted the longest but also melted down in spectacular fashion.  You see, Husband didn’t come by in the 3 hours he anticipated.  He didn’t come by in 3:15.  Nope, the Boston course kicked Husband’s butt so bad that it added an extra 30 minutes to his usual time.  And, in so doing, an extra 30 minutes to my own personal Hell.

Those last 60 minutes were sheer torture.  Girl #1 up on a lamppost, thinking every guy that runs by in a white jersey is Husband.  (“There he is!!!  Wait, no…..THERE HE IS!!!!  Wait, no.  THERE!!!  Wait, no.”  For an entire hour.)  Girl #2 is huddled on the concrete with her head turtled into her coat, looking like an oddly little homeless woman. 

The Boy decided to make up in volume what he lacked in stature.  He spent the final hour crumpled on the ground, shrieking for his father.  I still owe apologies to the good people around us who endured “DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADDYYYYYYYYYYYY…. I WAANTTTTT DAAAAAAADDDDYYYYYY!!!!” for an hour straight. 

The good people around us did what they could.  They asked what Husband was wearing and started scanning the passing runners for the white jersey with our alma mater, Lehigh, on the front.  Honestly, I think they just wanted to get rid of us.

Husband had quite the welcoming committee.  When he passed, not only did the clouds lift and the trumpets sound, but a good 20 people started yelling “LEHIGH!! LEHIGH!!! THERE! THERE! LEHIIIIGH!!!” 

The Kiddos calmed, we waved…..and he was gone.  A good 2 hours of meltdowns for 5 seconds of a blur of white jersey.

In the end, I think my 2 hours in Dante’s seventh layer of Hell washes with his 26.2 miles. 

Either way, Husband got to drive home.