Help! The kids put the cayenne pepper on the cinnamon shelf next to the vanilla!

I am convinced the hospital messed up 8 years ago and gave me the wrong baby. Allow me to explain. My house may not be “clean” all the time (absolutely impossible with two kids, two dogs, a cat and a husband), but I make a point of making sure everything is organized. Everything has a place and I go to great lengths to insure that storage of all items makes sense. All the photo book are in the hall closet, arranged by year. In the kitchen, jars are stocked in one cabinet, boxed goods on another. In the linen closet, the towels are on one shelf, sheets on another. In fact, if something doesn’t fit into one of my organizational categories, I have been known to just throw it out. I even organize the groceries on the belt in the store so that they go in the bag they way they are found in the house. (I hyperventilate when I see the high school kids bagging…I pay them NOT to bag my stuff)
Makes perfect sense, right? Not to my child.
My daughter is a slob. We just finished cleaning her room (me cleaning, her playing with everything I took out of the closet that she had forgotten she had) and I am convinced she cannot be my child. She has absolutely no organizational skills whatsoever. To her it is perfectly acceptable to store doll clothes with crayons and a tea set. I know! I know! Those of you with OCD are gasping audibly, covering your mouths with your shaking hand. Her books are overflowing on her shelf, paperbacks mixed with hard covers, Nancy Drew next to Fancy Nancy. Not only are her storage bins (which I have painstakingly labeled, Crafts, My Little Ponies, etc., etc.) not housing their designated toys, they’re either empty, stuffed with tissues to make a doll bed or laying on the floor. Oh and the floor…don’t get me started on the floor. It’s an obstacle course of pencils, earrings, Polly Pockets and Legos. I cringe thinking of my sleepwalking child stepping on a Lego at 2 in the morning.
Which is why I put myself through this tidying ritual every few days. It’s for her safety. And a little bit for my anxiety. Ok, maybe a lot for my anxiety. Because I do tend to hyperventilate a tad bit when I see the state of her room. And her oblivion to the distress it causes me. The fact she cannot understand WHY the room is a mess unnerves me a bit and I start to wonder about a hospital mix up. But then, I think of my husband and it begins to make sense. She is his child after all.
When I was dating my husband, the first time he invited me up to his bedroom I have to admit, I was a little nervous. I didn’t know what I would find, or what would happen. This could make or break our relationship, after all! He held my hand tightly as we climbed the stairs; his hand just as sweaty as mine. I could tell he was nervous as well. This was a big deal, a first for us both. No going back after this. Would it be everything I thought it would be? My pulse quickened with excitement when he opened the door and I realized it was perfect!
His floor was SPOTLESS, bed made with tight hospital corners, every figure and trophy in place. After settling me on the bed, he happily unlocked a storage box under his bed…and showed me his bills…organized by serial number. On his neatly organized desk stood a binder, color coding his expenses. I nearly had an asthma attack right there. He was one of my people! I wanted throw him on the bed right then, rip his clothes off and demand that he marry me.
And he did marry me. And immediately after, I found out that neat and organized room was ruse. A diversion created by my mother in law to marry him off. SHE cleaned his room. SHE made his bed. SHE did his laundry and put it away so that he didn’t have to sniff through piles of clothes to find the freshest pair of underwear. I had been duped. The binder and organized cash was the extent to my husband’s neatness and organizational skills, neither of which really serve me well. In fact, the binder is a big troublemaker. It made him cut up my credit card on my 32nd birthday because the color coded pie chart inside tattled on me and told him I was spending more than he made. (I hid the binder in the cleaning supply closet. He has no clue where to find it now)
Every day I lose a few more brain cells screaming and yelling at the top of my lungs to the organizationally challenged that live in my house. They have no respect for what I do and how much thought goes into making sure every item has a home in our house with a similarly related item. They move things and don’t put them back with their brothers and sisters. And then they shrug their shoulders and say, “so what?”. I shudder to think of the dark path they are headed down. Soon the forks will be mixed with the spoons in the utensil drawer. Oh the horror!
I have a closet in my house that has a shelf that I call “the regifting station”. It’s where I go when someone has surprised me with a gift I didn’t expect. On this shelf are the gifts I have gotten in the past that I have no use for and are awaiting a new family to take them in and use them lovingly. The shelf is in my daughter’s closet (she has two for heaven’s sake) so she stared at me wide-eyed as I dusted it and replaced the items.
“Whatever IS that?” she asked with a mixture of curiosity and suspicion.
“Don’t worry about it,” I responded. “It’s just a place where I keep the things I don’t want.”
She stared at me quizzically. “Well if you don’t want them can I have them?” That’s the other thing about my daughter. While I will gladly give you anything I am not wearing, using, needing, etc., she will gladly take anything you don’t want anymore off your hands. She’ll sniff around your house and ask you if you are using such and such a thing anymore. And then she’ll take it home and I have to find a place for it. She’s a slightly classy garbage picker and a cute con artist.
“No,” I told her firmly. “Leave everything on the shelf alone.”
She wandered off as I continued to organize happily. She returned several minutes later, arms overflowing with shoes. I stared down at her from the ladder.
“What are you doing with the shoes?”
“I want to put them in my closet,” she announced with smug satisfaction. She knew exactly what she was doing. I immediately began to sweat. LIKE HELL YOU ARE!
You see, the children’s shoes are neatly ensconced in cubby holes in the hall closet. That is where I want them. The reason for it is simple. When I find the shoes behind the couch and flung willy nilly all throughout the house, I can simply tuck them in the cubbies and be done. If the kids keep their shoes in their bedrooms, I have to tromp upstairs to put the shoes away. See? My madness has a reason. Oh and also, that’s where I want them. Did I mention that?
“No, no, no!” I ripped the shoes from my daughter’s arms. “They need to stay in the hall closet.” I stormed off to putt them back in their cubbies only to return and find that she had gotten up on the ladder and retrieved one of the “regifts”. And was ripping open the box. And squirting the foul smelling lotion all over her hands. I sighed as I headed to the bathroom to find a new place for the lotion.

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Life Before Technology Ate Our Brains

My son was punished earlier this week…we took away his iPhone and video games for two days. I thought by the end of the second day he was going to go absolutely bonkers from technology withdrawal. It rained yesterday so he couldn’t go outside and there was, according to him, “nothing on TV”. With 400 channels, plus on Demand, I find that very hard to believe. Yet he sat, sulkily in the living room, watching Phineas and Ferb reruns, pining for his beloved iPhone and his connection to the outside world.
If I was parted from my iPhone for 48 hours, I must admit, at this point in my life, I’d be distressed. Technology has definitely enhanced our lives in ways we never imagined. I mean, I am sitting poolside while writing this and I won’t even have to move more than my fingertips to make this available for all of you to read when I’m done. If you had told me that would be possible when I was his age, I would have thought you were nuts. After all, I was his age in the 80s.
When I was twelve, writing was either done with a paper and pen or on a typewriter. There was no back space. Once you hit the key, that letter was permanently stamped on your work. If you made a mistake, you had to pull out the sheet, white out the error, blow on it till it dried and pray you could line in up correctly when inserting it back in the typewriter. I remember when they invented the erasable pen. I thought it was the greatest invention since the pen. Of course, my school work ended up smeared or the eraser would rip right through the paper.
Not to sound like an old fart, but that’s another thing. Doing school work. Ugh. Remember when you had a research paper to do? Did we Google the subject? Nope. You were either lucky enough to have a 26 volume set of encyclopedias in your house or you tromped down to the local library with your spiral notebook and four colored clicky pen to peruse the card catalog for the entire afternoon. My kids don’t even have a clue what an encyclopedia is. One kid at school asked me if it was related to Wikipedia. Yeah, except a ton heavier and completely out of date most of the time. Well, not that Wikipedia is reliable, either.
These kids are so used to everything at their fingertips, at their demand. They have no idea what it’s like to wait all week for Saturday, the day your favorite cartoon is on, only to find out you have to go to your brother’s baseball game. Why wouldn’t you just DVR it? they would ask. Because, my dear spoiled children, DVRs haven’t been invented yet.
In fact, I remember vividly the day my father came home with our very first VCR. I was 10 and we stared at it, mouths open.You mean we can just tape a show and watch it later? You mean we could watch movies we missed in the movie theatre? Back then if you didn’t see it in the movies or they didn’t televise it, you didn’t see it.We couldn’t believe our good fortune. No longer would we miss our favorite shows! We were completely deluded, though, because we only have 6 channels to record from. Cable was not yet available in every house and when it was, there was no remote. We had a ridiculous contraption the size of a shoe box that was connected to the TV. It reached about ten feet from the TV and we were beyond amazed. So amazed we broke it in a day switching all the channels.
Forget about a world where texting wasn’t invented yet. Cell phones weren’t even invented yet. That’s right. When you wanted to talk to a friend, you had to pick up the ugly yellow phone on the wall of the kitchen, dial your friend, pray their brother you had a crush on didn’t answer and then proceed to have a conversation in front of your siblings who would sit at the kitchen table, mocking you and writing down what you said in a notebook. Oh yeah, there was no privacy. There was no “sexting” or lewd pics on Instagram. The closest thing you could get to privacy was if you wrote a note (yup, on paper with a pen). And even that was running the risk of being intercepted by some well meaning (ahem, busybody) adult.
When we wanted something, we had to wait. We learned patience. If you liked a song and couldn’t afford to go out and buy the whole album (yes, I said album), you sat in front of your radio with a tape recorder and waited. And waited. And waited until the song was played and you scrambled to hit play and inevitably your little sister would come storming into the room blabbing away just at that exact moment. If you were lucky, you’d get a recording. But then your tape player would chew up the tape and that would be the end of it. My kids hear a song they like, they literally hit a button on the iPod and it is instantly transported into their ears. My daughter whines when it takes more than a minute to download. Pathetic.
And I hardly remember ever being bored, even though I didn’t have a gaming system. Well, we got one when I was like 14 and it had one controller which would get tangled in knots and we’d all fight for our turn. Before then, we had board games and cards. We had an entire shelf in the basement stacked with games like Trouble, Scrabble and Clue. And we would play for hours. I remember playing marathon long games of Monopoly with my siblings. And each game was new experience every time. We didn’t have go out and buy a new $40 Monopoly when we beat the game. We just played again.
If you wanted to know what was going on in the world, you had to watch the news, which was only on ONCE a day. Or actually READ a newspaper. The only reason my kids know what a newspaper is is because they like the comics. There was no constant media bombardment of what celebrity is sleeping with who and who had Botox and where the President is vacationing. Is that even really news? I mean, who really cares?
We missed people. If you lived further than a bicycle ride distance from a friend, chances are, you didn’t see them over the summer. Relatives than lived in another state were ones you didn’t see until the holidays. Other than the occasional long distance phone call on Sunday night when the rates were lower (yeah, kids have NO clue what that means) you didn’t know what was going on in their lives. No Snapfish pictures, no Skype , no Facebook status updates. If you went on a road trip to see the family in your 6 passenger station wagon, you better bring books or be prepared to play the license plate game all the way to Ohio. No TV monitor on the back of the seat, no headphones to listen to your favorite songs. Just your dad singing along to the Oldies station at the top of his lungs. And God help you if he got lost…which he undoubtedly would because he had the book of maps propped up on his leg and the wind would blow the pages around when he cranked the window down to pay a toll and he would get confused. There was no Onstar or Mapquest to save him. You’d wander around for hours, looking for the interstate because he would NEVER stop and ask for directions.
Kids have it much easier but I’m not sure they have it better. They’re missing talking to people and hearing their emotions. They can’t spell to save their lives. They don’t know what to do when they go outside without a ball or friends to play with. Sadly, the whole concept of imagination is lost on them. They’re more likely to get carpal tunnel syndrome than break a leg falling out of a tree house. I feel sorry for them, I really do. I’d love to go back to some of those carefree days and just enjoy things for what they were. No worrying about who is tweeting about you or if your profile pic is cute enough. No taking selfies with your phone, no wondering who is going to check out your pictures of your lunch and what their comments will be. Now if you’ll excuse me, I am being paged. My daughter needs me the to put in the code so she can get another crappy app for her iPad.

Who Should Play Me in My Movie?

Okay so it is definitely not the bestseller Fifty Shades, but after hearing that book was going to be made into a movie, I thought I’d post the first chapter of my new book: Note to Self: Change the Locks onto my blog and see who YOU think should play these characters when they pick up the movie rights to my book. 🙂  I was thinking Reese Witherspoon for Elizabeth and Russell Brand for Simon. (I’m just a bit partial to Russell Brand.) It may not be as kinky as the other book, but it’s a fun romantic comedy with a few sexy scenes for the more faint of heart. Check it out and post your thoughts. Oh and if you’d like to check out the rest of the book, it’s available on Amazon along with my first book, All She Ever Wanted.

http://www.amazon.com/Note-Self-Change-Heather-Balog/dp/1484802519/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377106807&sr=8-1&keywords=note+to+self+change+the+locks

 

Note to Self: Change the Locks     

         My face dropped along with the blue terry cloth towel wrapped around my body, when I opened the door to find Simon staring back at me, backpack slung over his left shoulder. No, no, no! This can’t be! What in God’s name is he doing here? I caught the towel with my left hand before it completely fell to the floor and tried to pull it tightly across my body using only one hand.

            “Hello, love!” Simon chirped in his annoying British accent, eying me up and down, giving me the creeps..

            Using both hands, I cinched the towel as tight as it would go, practically cutting off my circulation. Damn it. Simon is not the Fed Ex man. Now just so you know, I don’t normally answer the door in a towel, but I was waiting for my new Espadrilles that I ordered from DSW. When the doorbell rang as I was getting out of the shower, I raced to answer it since I was sure it had to be the Fed Ex guy. Those damn shoes were supposed to be delivered yesterday and I’ve been waiting so patiently for them. I really needed them to come like, right now, since I planned my entire outfit around them for today’s interview.

Had I glanced in the peep hole and saw Simon standing there, I wouldn’t have opened the door in a million years. In fact, I probably would have climbed out the fire escape. “This is a really bad time, Simon. What do you want?”

            “Oh! Is there another bloke here, then?” Simon asked, craning his neck in order to peek into my apartment. Stepping out into the hallway, I pulled the door closed behind me.

            “No! There is not. Not that it’s any of your concern,” I replied crossing my arms. At least, Austin wasn’t here right this moment, but that wasn’t really any of Simon’s business, now was it?

            Simon leaned up against my door frame, trying to appear cool. “Ah, so no new chap? Still carrying a torch for old Simon, then, huh?” He flashed one of his cheesy grins my way. God, did his audacity ever end?

            “Listen, Simon. I’m really busy this morning. I have an interview at 11:00 and I thought you were the Fed Ex man with a package. So if you could just tell me why your English ass is on my doorstep and so I can bid you Cheerio, to borrow one of your expressions from your homeland.” I forced a tight smile.

            “Well, I was really hoping, you wouldn’t tell me to sod off, love. You see, I’ve been forced from my flat.” Simon drawled, leaning closer to my cleavage. “My, you smell delectable. New scent?”

            I frowned as I side stepped his wandering nose. “No. Same old scent.” And same old Simon. “Listen, Simon. I’m so sorry to hear that, but A, I don’t see how that’s my problem and B, we call them apartments here in the States.” So freaking annoying. He’s lived here for twenty years, but he still thinks the accent is charming and is going to get him his way. Simon was like those Italian guidos at the Jersey shore that liked to pretend they had been born in Venice or something. They would strut around town with their Italian horns and Italy tattoos pretending they’re born and bred in Italy when they’re actually from Bloomfield and probably haven’t ever been outside the tri-state area. Like my brothers.

“Alright then, my apartment. I was forced from my apartment.” He enunciated the word careful. It still sounded overly British. Why can’t he just talk like an American?

            Actually, come to think of it, at one point in time, I did find Simon’s Britishness (if that’s even a word), sexy and irresistible. It’s pretty much how he got me into bed in the first place. Well, it’s not going to work today.

          “And why, might I ask, were you forced from your apartment?” I enunciated every syllable hoping to piss him off. I could be a bitch if he was going to be a jerk.

           Simon cringed. “Well, I had a little bit of dickering with the landlord over the rent.”

           “By that, you mean you didn’t pay the rent?” Simon was completely irresponsible with money. His parents had been well off, but they never seemed to teach him the value of money. He threw it away on toys and frivolous endeavors without budgeting for essentials of daily living. It was another one of his many grating habits.

           “Well, it was kind of hard. You see, I got sacked.”

           “Shocker that is,” I remarked with a smirk. Simon was a very smart guy; his IQ was off the charts. But he absolutely refused to apply himself and I’m pretty sure he had an adult version of ADHD because he couldn’t seem to stay in any job for more than a few months. He changed his college major twice and then didn’t even graduate. He told me that it had “bored” him. With a big, fat trust account after his father died, he didn’t feel the need to ever be serious about a career or even just a steady income.

“Please, Lizzie? I can’t get an apartment on a moment’s notice. The waiting lists are eons long and I have nowhere else to go. Mum’s in a home now. I wouldn’t ask if I wasn’t desperate.” Simon’s face fell and his dark gray eyes grew wide and moist. Oh, shit. Not the puppy dog face. Simon, put the puppy dog face away! That infuriating man knew I could not resist the puppy dog face.

I closed my eyes to shut out his pathetic face. “Don’t call me Lizzie. You know I hate that. What about Jake? Why can’t you stay with Jake?” Jake was Simon’s successful and talented screenplay writing brother, whose home was literally three blocks from my apartment. Except, I still lived in the crap part of town and he was living in a mansion penthouse.

“Oh, Jake’s being an arse.” The way he said arse gave me goose-bumps. Darn accent again. Stop it now, Elizabeth. Do not let him get to you. “Something about not wanting company there when they’re doing construction. Mary Ellen is having a baby, you know.”

“No, I didn’t know,” I remarked dryly. He was so dense. Did he really think I kept in touch with his family after our breakup? I always found the whole bunch to be rather pretentious and I had been overjoyed to purge myself of all of them in the process of breaking up with Simon. It had been one of the perks of our relationship ending.

“Oh, well. She is. Due in May. Going to be a girl. They’re doing the nursery in Mother Goose or some other nonsense like that.”

Exasperated, I sighed. “Listen, Simon. I’d love to chat and catch up with the last two years of your life, but I’ve really got to go.” I reached for the doorknob as I spoke. “Why don’t you friend request me on Facebook or something and we can be regular old chums,” I remarked with sarcasm.

“That’s quite naff. Leave me out in the cold,” Simon pouted.

“It’s April, Simon. You’ll be fine. Go find a refrigerator box or something.” I turned the doorknob. It wouldn’t turn. What the hell? I gripped it tighter and tried again. It stuck sometimes in the humidity.

As hard as I turned, the door wouldn’t budge. Oh sweet Jesus, please tell me I am not locked out! In the hallway. In a towel. With Simon. When I have an interview uptown in less than an hour.

Simon chuckled behind me as I tugged futilely at the door. “A bit of a pickle, eh?” His voice was full of amusement.

“It’s not funny, Simon,” I growled through gritted teeth. “I really need this job. I can’t be late for the interview.” Tears burnt my eyes. You cannot cry in front of Simon. I pulled at the door harder to no avail. I tensed as Simon inched so close to me that I could feel him breathing on my neck. What a creep!

“Ah, what happened to your job, then, Lizzie?”

“My job is none of your beeswax,” I retorted as I jiggled the handle futilely. Son of Sam, why the hell won’t this open? I don’t remember locking it from the inside.

“Oh, so you don’t have a job either? And you were criticizing me?” Simon chuckled. “You want to be the pot or the kettle then?”

I inhaled sharply as I turned around, facing his pointy chin. “Good day, Simon,” I told him, curtly nodding before marching off barefoot to the bank of elevators at the end of the hall.

“Where are you going?” Simon called after me.

“Getting the Super to open my apartment door,” I called as I punched the button to summons the elevator. This was going to be one embarrassing visit to the Super’s apartment. Perhaps even more embarrassing than the time I tried a new sushi restaurant with Nora and we both had explosive diarrhea which clogged up my toilet.

“Oh, well that seems rather mortifying,” Simon commented with a chuckle. Really, Simon? You don’t say. I focused on the green glowing numbers lighting up on the top of the elevator door. Why was this damn thing so slow today? “So you need a key, eh?” I heard Simon ask.

“Yes, Simon. Keys usually open doors,” I replied sarcastically while refocused my gaze and stared down at my feet. I could see that my toenail polish was flaking off. Great. Now I have to wear boots and it’s hot. I can’t even wear the open toed shoes if I wanted to.  I’ll never get the job like that. Ugh, I’ve got to rethink my outfit, now. My mind was reeling as the clock ticked down.

“Oh a key like this one?” Simon called just as the elevator doors opened. My upstairs neighbor, Mrs. McIntyre was inside the elevator, gawking at me, her mouth hanging open. She clutched her purse and her stupid toy poodle, Cupcake, close to her body like I was some sort of animal snatcher. Haven’t you ever seen anyone waiting for an elevator in a towel, lady? I spun around to see Simon dangling a key in the air. My key. On my Mets lanyard that I had given him. Son of a bitch! He never gave me my key back!

The elevator door closed with Mrs. McIntyre and Cupcake safely behind it as I stormed over and attempted to snatch my key from Simon’s hand. He was shorter than average, a fact he absolutely hated, but he was still taller than I was and able to dangle the key well out of my reach. Holding on to the towel, I tried to jump for it, lost my balance and my body covering in the process. Quickly, I snatched up the towel and held it to my bare body. Simon laughed with delight as he tossed the key on top of the pile of junk my neighbor kept outside his door, despite the association regulation forbidding use of hall space for personal storage. Every weekend, Mr. Jackson attempted to clean out his apartment, dragging furniture and boxes into the common hallway, and every weekend, the poor dear became so overwhelmed by the process of cleaning his horde that he would quit halfway through. I didn’t have the heart to report him and his mess even though the pile of rubble was slowly creeping towards my own door.

“Come on, Simon! That was a real shit thing to do!” I dragged a chair to the edge of the pile. Thankfully, Mr. Jackson had attempted cleaning his dining room this past weekend and his entire set of dining room chairs was up against the wall. I climbed onto the chair, trying to grab my key. Simon sidled up next to me and gazed upwards. I stared down at him and tucked the towel between my legs. “Are you serious right now?”

A broad grin erupted on his well chiseled face. Damn, I forgot what nice cheekbones he has. But he does look like he’s put on weight. That thought satisfied me for some perverse reason. “I don’t think you can reach the top of that pile, love.”

“I can too,” I replied, puffing out my chest. I can’t reach the top of this pile. Damn my parents and their genes. Short, fat people should not be allowed to procreate together! The result is even shorter sausage-like children.

Simon casually leaned against my door frame once more. “I can help you out there, Lizzie. In exchange for one teensy little favor.” A sly smile spread across Simon’s lips.

“Don’t call me Lizzie,” I growled. I was stuck. Damn it. I needed his help. I sighed as I tightened my towel for the umpteenth time and ran my free hand through my now dry hair. “What do you want?”

Simon pushed off the door frame. “Oh you know what I want.”

I sucked in my breath. “You can’t live with me, Simon. It’s just not possible. I’m sorry.”

Pouting and throwing the puppy dog eyes my way, Simon inquired, “How about just for a few days? Till I can find a new flat? I promise I won’t be a bugger.”

I cringed at the word, flat, once again. Flats were shoes, damn it, not apartments. Just listening to him butcher the English language gave me the feeling of nails on the chalkboard. Sighing, I explained, “It’s not that I think you’re going to be a bugger.” I actually know that you will be a huge pain in my ass. “I’m sort of seeing someone right now. And I don’t think he would appreciate coming home from his business trip to find you living in my apartment.” Especially since I never even let him spend the night, I reminded myself.

Simon’s face clouded slightly. But then he triumphantly remarked, “Ah! So there is someone else!”

Sighing, I nodded my head. “Yes. And it’s, um, serious. I don’t want to jeopardize that.”

Simon nodded with comprehension. “No, no, I understand. I don’t want to get in your way.”

I smiled gratefully. “Thank you. Can I have my key now?”

Simon continued to smile. “No. I don’t think so. Why don’t you get your boyfriend to bring you the key?”

Oh my God he was so exasperating! Just when I think I’m making headway with the pompous prick!

“First of all, Austin is out of town on business, as I mentioned before. And secondly, he doesn’t have a key to my apartment.” The words escaped my mouth before I could stop myself.

“Ah, so not as serious as you led me to believe, my dear,” Simon said with a grin. He had me there. Austin and I had been seeing each other for almost a year. He was a very talented baseball player, who was currently playing Triple A ball. After being drafted right out of college, he spent a few years in Triple A where he batted .470 and played a mean center field. He was called up to the majors two years ago, before we met. A hamstring injury in his first month in the majors sidelined him for several weeks and he ended up being sent back down after rehab. We met at a bar shortly after he got sent down. He was out drinking with some of the other guys on the team. Even though I wasn’t a fan of his team, (cough, cough, Yankees) I recognized one of his teammates and as a lover of baseball in general, I was completely tongue tied. Nora dared me to go up and talk to them. She bet me the next month’s rent that I wouldn’t do it. I lost my job a few weeks before, along with whatever dignity I had left so I took the shot of whatever the hell the bartender put in front of me and waltzed over to the guys. And got the heel of my boot stuck in the floorboards. And proceeded to fall flat on my face in front of them.

Austin’s friends thought it was hilarious and mocked me, including the ball player I had worshipped up until that moment. But Austin was sweet and helped me to my feet. While his friends moved on to picking up a group girls who couldn’t even be out of high school, Austin and I sat alone at the bar and lamented about our recent career changes. We knocked back shot after shot and I guess I was drunk enough to go home with him that night; something I don’t normally do, but he had been a major league baseball player, after all. I was mortified when I woke up the next morning, naked in his bedroom. I was certain he was going to kick me out when he sobered up, telling me how much he regretted it. Instead, he asked me to spend the day with him, just hanging out, talking. And of course, sex, too.

 He was a lot of fun and we hit it off outside the bedroom, so we’ve been dating ever since. I’m pretty sure it’s exclusive, but I never really asked. I don’t want to pressure him into anything else right now. I have a feeling he’s frustrated with where his life is taking him professionally and he isn’t going to be able to commit to our relationship just yet. I mean, neither of us even said “I love you”. I didn’t want to seem needy and all that. It’s usually the first mistake I make. And I’m a little out of practice. Did I mention I haven’t dated anyone since my breakup with Simon?

So I didn’t really know if it was serious or not, but I wanted Simon to think it was. And also that my very jealous boyfriend would beat him up if he found him at my apartment.

“It is serious. He just doesn’t have key because he’s out of town so much. He’s a baseball player,” I stressed importantly.

“Just dandy,” Simon remarked. “So if he’s out of town a lot, he won’t mind me staying here, then. It’s not like I will be in his way or anything.”

He had me there. Still, it reeked of a rotten idea.

“Come on, Lizzie. For old time’s sake?” Simon was practically on his knees.

“For old time’s sake is exactly why I don’t want you staying here, Simon. If you’ll remember…”

“I swear to Christ I’ve changed, Lizzie. I promise I won’t be the wanker I was back then. Please? You won’t even know I’m about.” He gazed into my eyes as he pleaded. Maybe it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. I mean, it’s only for a few days and even though he’s a real jerk face, I can be gracious and try to forget the past. I mean, it’s not like what he did could ever hurt me again, right?

I sighed audibly. I can’t believe I’m going to do this. Sure I was going to regret this for as long as I lived, I opened my mouth and said, “Ok, Simon. But only for a few days.” Simon beamed as he bounded to the top of the chair like a drunk leprechaun and retrieved my key. I poked his chest with my finger. “And you stay on the couch. You don’t dare come near my bedroom.”

Simon winked, “Are you playing hard to get?”

I shoved him harder. “I’m dead serious, Simon. Stay on the couch and out of my way. You said I wouldn’t even know you were there? Well, make that happen.”

“Of course, of course. I wouldn’t dream of making this difficult for you.” He unlocked the door for me and stepped aside as I entered my apartment first.

“Ladies first.”

“Gee, thanks. It is my apartment.”

Frowning, I stepped inside onto the plush carpet. And then, my ex-husband walked in right behind me. Back into my life again.

A bad Mommy’s thoughts on “Fifty Shades of Grey”

About a year and a half ago, I started hearing rumblings amongst friends and coworkers about a HOT new book, Fifty Shades of Grey. Now these ladies were nearly quivering with madness when they exclaimed to me, “You HAVE to read this book! You just have to!” That right there is the most antagonistic set of words ever set in front of me. I DO NOT LIKE TO BE TOLD what to do. And what’s more, I don’t tend to follow the crowd, what ever the trend, I tend to buck it…I don’t watch any Housewives of any county, I don’t find Zumba exhilarating, I never thought Tom Cruise was yummy (but Channing Tatum is a different story), I never grew carrots on FarmVille or crushed candy…you get the picture. So just on the fact that it was popular and all you saw on the beach all summer were women hunched over books with a necktie on the cover was enough for me to swear I wasn’t reading the book.
Until Saturday. When I realized the library was closed until Monday and I was out of books to read…gasp! The horror. Now a normal person would just upload an Ebook onto their iPad, but living with Mr. Cheapo for 16 years has rubbed off on me. I cannot fathom spending money on a book that I can get elsewhere, especially since it takes me an average of two days to read a book. So, I borrowed Fifty Shades from a friend and set forth to on a quest to figure out what all the fuss was about. I sequestered myself in my bedroom with the book and a fresh set of batteries. When I emerged five days later, I only had one thought.
Oh my. Or in the words of Ana Steele, Holy cow (or crap, shit, hell, etc., etc…..) For a woman so allegedly intelligent, how many times can she possibly utter one of those phrases in her head? I seriously considered inventing a drinking game, but I would have been dead of alcohol poisoning by chapter 5. She couldn’t seem to utter a coherent, intelligent sentence in her head that didn’t include any of these words. Yet, in her emails to Christian she would throw in words I needed to grab the dictionary for like verbose and envisaged. After spending five agonizing days between alternately looking up words and feeling my brain cells die slow painful deaths while reading, I’m pretty sure I want a refund on my time. And the dead brain cells.
Now before you Fifty Shades fanatics lynch me, let me explain a few things about why I didn’t like this book. First off, it is not because I am a prude. I have ready many a steamy novel in my day and even watched some questionable movies. I am not shocked by those who chose to shake up their sex lives. Whatever people chose to do in their bedroom is not my business as long as nobody is getting hurt. Oh, ding, ding, ding…. Getting hurt. This was one of the reasons I hated this book.
There was a scene that made me see red…one that was akin to a domestic violence situation. But it was “okay” because she agreed to it? Nope, sorry…never okay to beat another person. And it is certainly not okay to excuse him because he is rich and handsome. And anyone who goes along with it for those reasons is, in my book, a moron. (Aka. Anastasia Steele)
That out of the way, let me tell you why this book had me laughing my butt off and rolling my eyes for 514 pages. I am sure I would have been black and blue if I belonged to Christian Grey but hey, here’s the thing…I’d never “belong” to anyone. I have a brain in my head and NOBODY tells me what to do. My hubby would lose an appendage if he dared to try. In fact, I gave him a nosebleed once when he disagreed with me.
My problem with that simpering twit, Ana, is that she had this rich boyfriend, but she was too good to accept gifts from him because it made her feel like a (gasp) prostitute. Guess what honey? If the guy “owns” you, that’s exactly what you are. Look the definition up in the dictionary when you’re searching for synonyms for “wow”. But yet, she like to think that she’s in charge of herself and has some control. She would try to exercise her control by arguing about the STUPIDEST things. Okay, so your boyfriend wants you to eat. Hello, that’s a NORMAL request! If a guy wants you to eat in front of him, Eat!!! Make him wonder where you put it all. If he tells you you must have your hair up at all times or can’t look at him, THEN you tell him off. But, no. Ana lays down and lets him boss her around about those things and then has the nerve to think, he’s bossy. No duh! Did you read the contract? Or were you too busy with your breath hitching? What does that even mean? It makes me feel like she’s having an asthma attack and needs a puff of the inhaler. Is that a common saying that I just missed? Maybe it’s British.
That’s another thing. The author is British and she’s setting the scene in Washington state. Which is fine if you can get the language and jargon right! In the good old US of A, we don’t call backpacks rucksacks, we don’t wear “pinafores” and we don’t talk on our “mobiles”. Christian sounds like fricken Agatha Christie…what guy says “it’s a lovely day” or “for pity’s sake”?? None I know unless he’s being sarcastic. I’ve known my husband for 21 years and never heard either him or his friends utter “for pity’s sake”.
Maybe if this book hadn’t been hyped to the moon and back, I would have enjoyed it more. But picking it up, I was expecting not only a book that would make me not only ravage my poor unsuspecting hubby, but be an awe inspiring piece of literature worthy of a Noble Peace prize. Instead, I found myself trudging through a cringeworthy, detailed description of a sick and twisted individual with mommy issues and the air headed fool who thinks she can change him. The fact that this is a best seller not only makes me physically ill, but has me questioning womankind. I read reviews from readers who were literally (haha…that’s a pun) in love with Mr. Grey and would have killed to be Ana. This is the kind of man they want? This is the type of woman they can relate to? E.L. James is a billionaire household name because millions of neglected women got bored of their washer’s spin cycle and that is fifty shades of crazy.

You Have Another Parent (that guy in the recliner lives here, too)

I have come to realize that my family would fall apart if I were not around. Especially my kids. They have yet to realize that they do indeed have another parent. My daughter will literally walk past her father to ask me (on my hands and knees scrubbing the toilet) to pour her a drink. My son will ignore the man who is four feet from him and scream my name across the house for help with his homework. They seem to have forgotten that he can do nearly everything I can (even though I undoubtedly do it BETER). Yes, that man in the arm chair can also help you tie your shoes or make you a sandwich. And they most certainly can be the parent you go to when YOUR OTHER PARENT IS SLEEPING!
Case in point, last night I discovered that I had a cluster of mosquito bites on my foot (or poison ivy, according to Dr. Husband) and it itched like a bitch. After nearly scratching my foot raw, I decided to take some Benedryl. Now, Benedryl makes me VERY sleepy (like I can’t keep my eyes open without toothpicks kinda sleepy) and I wouldn’t have taken it if it wasn’t after 10:30 and both kids were supposed to be asleep. The key words here are “supposed to be”. Because shortly after I tossed that sweet pink liquid back, I discovered that they were both wide awake in their rooms.
Too late to do anything about my sleepy juice that was already coursing through my veins, I snatched all the electronics that they were hoarding and ordered them to go to sleep, NOW. I sounded like a novice mother saying that because telling a kid to go to sleep is like telling a dog with fleas to stop scratching. Ain’t gonna happen. In fact, in some twisted way, I think it actually prevents them from sleeping.
After announcing to my husband that I was going to sleep and watching him roll his eyes because going to bed before midnight is juvenile to him, I slipped between the covers in medicated bliss. For about 11 1/2 minutes. Just long enough to feel completely alarmed when I was shaken awake by a small, sobbing child.
“Mommy!” small, sobbing child wailed.
Who is she talking to? I don’t know this Mommy person. What day is it? What time is it? Who am I by the way?
“Mommy!” the kid repeated, this time in even higher pitched tones.
“Huh? What?” I mumbled. My mouth wasn’t working right. I sounded like I had a mouthful of marbles. And what the hell? Is this drool on the pillow? Why am I drooling???
“I had a nightmare, Mommy and I can’t sleep,” small child told me.
“Oh well, that sucks,” I replied indifferently. Why was this kid telling me this? I wondered. She really should go tell her mother. I drifted asleep only to be shook away three seconds later.
“Mommeeeeeee! I need you! I need you to lay with me!”
And that’s when it hit me. This was my kid. And she woke me up from a drug induced sleep. And she wanted me to lay with her.
I tried to fling my leg over the side of the bed to stagger to my feet, but my leg wouldn’t move. In fact, I couldn’t even throw back the covers because my hand wouldn’t move either. In fact, I think I was falling back to sleep right at that very moment. Oh crap.
“Go back to sleep,” I managed to stammer before drifting off.
“Mommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmeeeeeeeeee!” came the screechy voice again.
“For crying out loud,” I snapped. “Just go to your bed and close your eyes and go to sleep. See, Mommy is doing it right now…” (Listen, before you criticize, remember this is the BAD Mommy Diaries, not the June Cleaver Diaries)
I felt her hot breath against my ear before she screamed into it, but my reflexes were delayed and I failed to get out of the way. I think my ear drum may be punctured.
This time, my body bolted upright and I sprang from the bed.
“I’m up, I’m up!” I walked her back to her room and tucked her in. “Go back to sleep,” I ordered (pretty unsympathetically, I might add).
“I’m scared of the dark,” she complained. “I need you to lay with me.”
“There’s nothing to be scared of,” I reasoned. It wasn’t even dark. In fact, she had every light in her room blazing.
“Lay with meeee,” she whined.
“I don’t wanna! I wanna go back to bed!” I whined back.
“But I’m scared!”
I scratched my head, trying to come up with a logical solution to this dilemma in my foggy state. Now if I was half awake I would have crawled into her bed and killed two birds with one stone. But no, I was not that smart. Instead, I asked, “Where’s the dog? She can lay with you.”
I called the dog, unleashing the chain of events that usually occurs when the dog is laying with the older one. The dog leaves his side and he falls apart. Crying and begging the dog to come back. And then the little one ends up crying and grabbing the dog who then bites her because she hates being in the middle of their “I love the dog more” fight. (They love her at bedtime…hate her at “pick up the dog crap” time).
Stupid me. I trudge back to the bedroom, intending to lock my door and cover my head with a pillow to drown out the sounds of them beating each other with their Nooks.
I glanced at the clock, expecting it to be like, 3 in the morning. Instead, my jaw dropped as I saw the angry red numbers reading 11:16. Sixteen minutes??? I was asleep and this entire scene transpired in sixteen minutes??? I turned to see that my husband was missing from the bed. Of course he was. He was still awake. Why didn’t she go to him when she couldn’t sleep???
I stomped down the stairs, very loudly I might add, and found the hubby in his recliner. Laughing at grown men in camo swinging from tire swings over a muddy river. On TV, of course.
Hands on my hips, hair in awful fright, I asked with sarcasm, “Are you deaf?”
He looks up from the zany frivolity on the TV and gives me a blank expression. “Huh?”
Rolling my exhausted eyes I reply, “You must be deaf otherwise you would have heard the circus unraveling upstairs.”
He continues to look bewildered. I shake my head in disgust and storm back upstairs where the children are are both crying and screaming and flailing their arms around. Something about a bloody nose and a broken thumb. And the windows are open.
“Shhhhh!” I hiss. “You’ll wake the neighbors.” And they’ll call the cops because they’ll think someone is being murdered in here.
“I’m hot,” the older one announces. Good, lets close the windows.
So I tromp all over the house, shutting windows. I go downstairs and hubby is in the same place.
“The kids are hot and can’t sleep. I’m turning the air on,” I announce to Sir Cheapskate. Before he protests, I add, “Help me shut the windows.”
Entranced in his show, he waves me off. “In a minute.” Code for, “you might as well do it yourself, I’m not getting up”.
I sigh, finish closing the window and head back upstairs expecting the children to be drifting off into blissful, cool and comfy sleep. Instead, they are still screaming at the top of their lungs.
“But I want the dog!”
“No! I want the dog!”
This again.
“We have TWO dogs! You can each take one!” I reason in a pleading voice. “Please, just go the hell to sleep! Mommy can hardly stand up!”
The “other dog” lifts his head at this suggestion and gives me a “oh HELL no!” look. The dog, purchased for the purpose of “putting the children to sleep”, does not want to have anything to do with them. He wants to lay all over me all night so he can be closer when he barks to go out at 4 in the morning. My husband conveniently cannot hear him barking, either. Amazing. He really must be deaf.
Speaking of, here he comes, up the steps. The children are still fighting, the dog is now barking and I’m practically in tears because the Benedryl is kicking in high gear. He turns to me an announces, “It’s late. I’m going to bed.”