Friday, October 28, 2011

Coughing and Coffee are NOT Homophones

Wow!  I have been sick.  Sick as a dog sick.  Sick, as I never want to be sick again for sickness sake sick.  It all started out innocent enough.  A cold. A tickle. An annoying drip.  Who knew what a drip could do?  Well, if a drip of water over millions of years could produce the world’s most humongous stalactites, I guess a drip in my throat for a month could build up just as well.  So, perhaps there is a stalactite in my chest. Sure felt like one.  A crushing, pressing, invasive, stalactite.   As I helped my son with his inhaler (because he was sick too) I’m having visions of taking a hit off of it, like a drug addict looking for a fix.  You know, there is something inherently wrong if you are fantasizing about suckin’ off your kids inhaler.  Bad mommy.  Desperate mommy.  Breathing is not overrated.  I needed help.

Off to the doctor, who by the way was impressed with the fact that I had a conscience and didn’t inhale with my son.  I got my own brand, new, shiny inhaler along with a high dose of antibiotics for a diagnosed sinus infection.   I could feel the weight lifitng from my chest, as I knew the meds would take care of everything…WRONG!

I am walking around the house sounding like a 30-year smoker.  Slap on a pink waitress uniform and some garish blue eye shadow like on the caricature type, 90 year old waitress who raspily calls you toots and sounds like she’s coughing up a lung while she pours your stale coffee in some seedy diner. That’s what I sounded like.  The kids look at me with frightened eyes.  They aren’t used to me like this. 

Now, we move on to steroids….OY.  Ten days of steroids is enough to put anyone over the edge.  One moment you are a ravenous carb-o-holic vulture, and the next, you’re staring off into space like a cat coming down from a cat-nip overdose.  But wait, there’s more.   The cough is still not waning, so now we are on Advair-an inhaled steroid.   I never thought it would happen, but I am now actually taking medication that is advertised on TV.  You know, where they give you so many potential side effects including death, but the people on TV look happy anyway?  I was soooo not happy, but on the up side, I could breathe.  Again, totally not overrated.

Slowly, I begin to come back to the world of the breathing.  My son, who is in first grade and is trying to get a grasp on homophones, says, “Couging, and coffee are homophones.”  Here’s a refresher for those who are too embarrassed to remember 1st grade phonics…homophones are words that sound the same but are spelled differently….like pair and pear.  “No sweetie, those aren’t homophones, they don’t even have the same endings,” I tell him gently.   The fact that I even give a damn to correct him means that I am finally feeling better. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Live, Love, Laugh...Laundry

I’ve been feeling a bit more reflective these past few days following Yom Kippur (the grand daddy holiday of contemplation), and truth be told, it wasn't really Yom Kippur per se.  No, it seems the source of my reverie emanated from my...laundry.      

First, I need to back up.  I mean dirty laundry doesn’t usually yield itself to introspection, unless introspection includes cursing the wet laundry left in the dryer overnight because you forgot to turn it on.  No, my contemplative musings actually began with my son’s two recently missing front teeth.  My girlfriend hadn’t seen us in a while, and clearly the gaping hole in his mouth warranted her attention, to my six year old’s delight.

After their exchange which included questions about the elusive tooth fairy (who by the way was in default on payment because she didn’t have any cash, requiring money from her 10 year old’s piggy bank the first time.  The second time, the tooth fairy fell asleep and forgot to submit funds thereby being saved once again by her 10 year old daughter.  Clearly, the tooth fairy needs some management skills).  

While they were discussing the tooth fairy’s magical attributes, my girlfriend flashed me “the look.” Her look conveyed everything I had been feeling over the last few weeks regarding all the open real estate in my son’s mouth.  I knew that he was hovering on the cusp of cuteness for just a few more short weeks until his teeth grew in and the entire structure of his face would change.  After all, I was overtly aware that his face had pretty much hollowed out and most of that chubby cheek yumminess was gone, his once curly crop of hair was now straight, and I could already see the buds of his new teeth racing each other to the finish line. 

Enter the laundry.

A few days later, I am downstairs knee deep in rank laundry.  I hate laundry.  I despise laundry.  I absolutely loathe laundry.  I would rather have a gynecological exam than do laundry.  This is evident when Mt. Everest sized laundry piles surround me at every turn.  I have to don hiking gear to get from the washer to the dryer.  The family sends out a search party when I am down there for an inordinate amount of time.  You get the picture. Laundry.

This time is different, however.  Still feeling that bittersweet reverie, I look to the laundry as salvation as I can be alone for a few minutes in a dark, cool room where the only noise is the hum of the dryer.  As I methodically sort whites from colors, I begin to unearth items of clothing, that like my six year olds teeth, document my children’s looming journey towards maturity.

There’s the flannel doggie pajamas that my daughter refuses to give up.  The pant legs only reach to her knees, creating a female Tom Sawyer effect.  There’s her favorite shirt from kindergarten, that she wore all the way through 3rd grade, that mysteriously continues to haunt the basement floor, not to mention her size 5T shirt with the peeling, war torn decal of her and daddy on the front that has taken up permanent residence beneath the laundry rack.  

My son likes to hold on to things “for memory.”  Okay, I get sentimentality over certain items of clothing or toys, but seriously…what memory does he associate with dirty, disgusting, swiss- cheese like socks?  He doesn’t like the adage, out with the old and in with the new, because that signifies change and while change can be good, letting go is really hard.  Gee, I wonder where he gets those anxious tendencies from?  Though I must admit, he eventually rallies, like when his sister left for summer camp for a month and he brooded about it until he acquired the highly sought position of…Director of DVD Transport Services.  Just like that, he embraced change with an ironclad fist around the car DVD remote.  

The basement floor is a “treasure trove” of lost items.  I am finding items that had once mysteriously disappeared into the laundry abyss, only to have re-surfaced.  These items tell a story, re-create a memory and I feel like a time traveler juxtaposed between two worlds.  Perhaps I will find my grandmother’s antique diamond ring that I regretfully lost a few years ago. Not likely. Though, I did find an errant nursing shirt that may have escaped from a donation box and has been living out it’s days on the floor underneath an old panty hose pile (again, I am not proud of this people). 

I smile as I put my husband’s dirty socks into the machine.  These are his stretched out wedding socks that continually sag and droop around his ankles. He refuses to throw them out.  I tell him how touched I am by his fidelity to his socks, as one day I will be saggy and droopy, and am glad to know that I won’t be discarded or upgraded for a newer model.  He looks at me like a nutcase, and says, “you have been hanging out in the basement way too long.”  

I  add detergent to the wash and proceed to collect the random worn out, outgrown, faded and torn pieces when I spy a little lacy sunhat  that had no doubt been awaiting its fate for sometime.  I picked it up and fingered its delicate edges while being flooded with a mental montage of my daughter in the stroller. I gingerly carried it upstairs with me and placed it in the back of my closet, but never in the back of my mind.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Resolutions –Stop the Make ‘em and Break ‘em Cycle

The differences between Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and the secular New Year celebrations are very distinct.  RH (Rosh Hashanah) isn’t televised all over the world in a live celebration including rap stars, singers, or Ryan Seacrest.  People don’t wait in line for 24 hours in the freezing cold to watch a ball drop, ticker tape is a big no-no in a synagogue, and champagne is not the drink du jour.  However, the similarities are interesting to note.  While we aren’t standing outside surrounded by thousands wearing ridiculous hats or oversized glitter glasses, we are stuffed inside the synagogue with a large group of people wearing assorted colored and textured yarmulkes, prayer shawls and holiday attire.  Merry plastic noisemakers are replaced with the ultimate noisemaker-the shofar, and at the end of the service, we ultimately wish each other Happy New Year.

Perhaps, the biggest similarity between these two celebrations is the…resolution.  One might think we Jews are lucky as we get to make resolutions twice, so that if we break them the first time, we get a second chance in January.  Hmmmmm, I guess my resolution to be more positive is already waning. According to surveys, most people who make New Year’s resolutions will fail by January 20th.  I don’t think there are any Rosh Hashanah resolution statistics…but I would be curious nonetheless.

Resolutions are a funny thing.  We place a lot of emotional weight on them, and it makes it even more frustrating when we don’t follow through.  I sometimes feel like I have to break the resolution just to get rid of the pressure of making it, like a kid who has to touch something, even though they know they shouldn’t.  After all, didn’t I point out to my husband during services (while we were specifically reading about egregious sins such as gossip and slander) at how many women were ridiculously wearing boots on an 80-degree day for fashion’s sake?  Yes, I was callous and no doubt not very repentant but commenting on high-holiday synagogue fashion was just too good to give up.  There were skirts that were inappropriately short, heels that were ridiculously high and all the while ironically, I kept pulling at my own skirt for fear that the people behind me thought my behind was way too big for it. There, another sin…vanity, sue me.  I like to think of it more as insecurity.

The whole resolution thing makes me a little cranky and I had to stop and really think why.  I mean, here is an opportunity to better myself, make good, do the right thing, and yet everything I was doing was the wrong thing at the wrong time 

When I look at my life, there is certainly so much of which I am grateful for.  There is precious health, family, friends, a nice home, and food on the table. These are things; however, I thank God for on a regular basis…even in the supermarket.  As I survey the organic produce, which costs a fortune, and some o f the specialty items that I have enough money to pay for I am overwhelmingly grateful.  In fact, swiping my card feels like a holy act sometimes. 

I have a stack of insurance receipts sitting in a folder for numerous strep tests, Lyme tests, blood work, allergy follow-ups, minor surgeries, antibiotics, check ups, immunizations, allergists, dermatologists, dentists, orthodontists and pediatricians.  I am grateful everyday that I have health insurance.
I just returned a few weeks ago from my niece’s bat mitzvah where I had the entire weekend to enjoy my family.  At one point, all the younger cousins were playing in the hotel pool, and I was sitting on a lounge chair with the newest member of our family.  As I sat there stroking her beautiful, bald, head as she fell asleep in my arms, I was so complacent and overwhelmingly grateful for my family.  When her diaper leaked all over me, I was grateful that I was done having children.
So, I guess my point is, I am grateful all the time; it isn’t something I just reserve for a holiday.  I am constantly aware of my behavior as I am usually feeling guilty about something or someone and always trying to fix it. That may not be a good thing, but it’s something I am aware of nonetheless.  Let’s face it, the whole resolution thing is a work in progress that is constantly evolving.  So, it makes me feel better when I look to Rosh Hashanah as a marker, rather than a finite starting point.   It takes the pressure off while allowing me to either fail or succeed and if my resolutions need additional tweaking, well... there’s always Jan. 1st.