Just say, “Huh?”

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Just say, “Huh?”

Auto correct has made us dumb. I have texted, I’m heading to the bank, when can I

pumpkin1

Enter a caption

experience you? I’ve texted, I love to HIV, instead of I love to give.  And when my frustration elevates into the danger zone, am I mad at myself?  Of course not! I get mad at Auto correct!  duck you auto cucumber!

Auto correct is supposed to suggest corrections in spelling or grammar.  It isn’t there to finish our thoughts with words it thinks we want to use.  We, need to be in charge of it.  Not it, in pumpkin2charge of us. But that means  reading before sending. And based on texts I’ve sent and received, this doesn’t happen that often.

Take this text I received from my sister prior to meeting for lunch: In really pumpkin. Not here. If you’re wondering what she was trying to say, you’re not alone.

This happens a lot. I receive a text and have no idea what she’s trying to say. I look at the keyboard, hoping to think of the letter she wanted press but obviously didn’t. It is close to Halloween, so the word pumpkin, well…maybe that’s a clue?

When all else fails, I simply text back, huh?

Her response…LOL.

We are going on 10 minutes, and neither one of us has moved off the mark.pumpkin6

Realizing all bets are off I trying to mess with her a bit.  I text, bring your pumpkin…really. 

Her response… Huh?

I text back LOL.

2 educated, college graduates going nowhere quickly and one of us is an English major.

I think your phone should be able to flash the word, huh? when necessary.  Similar to when your computer asks you if you really want to delete something. It would be an alert of sorts that we are sounding dumber than dirt. A last chance to sound smart.

Not only are our phones making us sound dumb, they are also making us annoying, and dangerous.  Today you practically need a helmet and certainly a lot of patience to walk from point A to pumpkin5point B. How many times have you needed to bob and weave your way around the mall, the street, wherever you are,  avoiding a collision with an oblivious person, head down and buried in their phone?

And there’s nothing more annoying than being behind a person who is walking and then simply decides to stop short! The pile-up of humanity behind them is akin to a pile-up of cars on the parkway, but without the broken glass.

Huh? How’d that happen I’m sure they wonder.

I remember hearing about a woman in Miami who fell into an open cellar space because she was walking and texting.  Forgive me but when I saw the video, I laughed.  Out. Loud.

Huh? she must have said as she hit the floor.

Did you know that it’s illegal to cross a street in Honolulu if you’re texting? A city council pumpkin4member said, “this is really milestone legislation that sets the bar high for safety.”  My friends, we have melting glaciers, the threat of nuclear war, 300 million guns in the USA, and white supremacy rallies.  Laws are needed to help us cross the street? Seriously?!

Before crossing the street LOOK BOTH WAYS LIKE YOUR MOTHER TAUGHT YOU WHEN YOU WERE TWO!

In the words of someone who wants to “make America great again” …SAD.

Talk about the dumbing down of humanity.

So back to in really pumpkin not here.

Previously to receiving this text, and because I hadn’t read before sending, I texted my sister, are you interested in tight places? 

When what I meant to text was,  Are you in the right place?”

She texted back in really pumpkin. not here.

What she meant to text was, in the right place. here now.

All together now my friends…. Huh?

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There’s way too much Smart in my life

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There’s way too much Smart in my life

Over the past few years, I’ve managed to snatch the power back from my Smartphone, my Smarthouse, even those obnoxious Smartkids of mine, and become a Smartwoman.

But now I have a new foe and its proving problematic.

My Smartcar.

smart1This is the fourth time in a week I’m in my garage and standing outside my new car, anxious, a knot in my throat, a feeling of dread. Quite a difference from the love I felt at the dealership. It reminded me of the football players I liked in college.  They looked good on the outside until they spoke. Then I wanted to punch them.

Same for my new car.

I calm my nerves, take a deep breath, slowly place my hand on the door, and get in.

I push a button and the car turns on.

Champagne, anyone?

So far so good.

I hit the menu button and the computer screen lights up asking if I want the menu to smart2appear on the virtual cockpit.  I don’t want to fly over Russia, I want to drive to HomeGoods.

I sign into the car’s WIFI then synch my iPod to my car. I’m killin it here!  But in synching my iPod I can’t figure out how to synch my phone. They both use Bluetooth technology and one seems to be cancelling the other out. I feel like I’m in the car with 2 squabbling kids fighting for my attention. Which do I want more…music or phone?  I choose the iPod because it’s been 20 minutes in the garage, so at least I’ll have music while flying reconnaissance over Russia.  I sheepishly grab my bag of old technology and use the headset to synch to my phone.

My husband walks by and informs me I no longer need the headset.

Think of 2 words, people…I can’t repeat them.

I don’t need a Smarthusband.

Maybe I’ll have more luck with navigation: An alphabet chart comes up. 977valleyroadgilettenj. I’m unable to add spaces so I toggle down and I’m instructed to draw address on optional touchpad.  Excuse me?  Draw? On a touchpad?  What touchpad?!  I. Want. To. Go. To. HomeGoods! Not draw! Grabbing the bag of old technology, I find the Garmin GPS, plug it in, type the address (with spaces), and waa-laa….it calculates the trip. Thank you, Jesus.

smart3$10K extra for technology is so worth it, said no one ever.

My husband walks by, and notices the plugged in Garmin GPS.

This time he says nothing.

Smarter than Einstein, that one.

It’s been 30 minutes in the garage. Maybe I’ll skip Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, synching, flying over Russia, and just drive the damn car. So, I’m off. At a stop light the car turns off. My blood smart10pressure is up to 450. Miraculously I step on the gas and the car turns on, but a green foot with an arrow appears on the dash which means I’m going above the speed limit. My car obviously has a dual personality, morphing into my mother telling me to slow down. How much more did this cost me?

Mistakenly, I hit a button on the steering wheel and a voice in sotto voce asks what I want to do next. What I’d like to do next is punch the car in its virtual cockpit, but instead while pulling out a chunk of hair on my head, I loudly speak, “call smart6home.”  I need to apologize to my husband. Sotto voce informs me it doesn’t recognize my voice.  Then I come to a stop sign and the engine turns off.

My next car will be a golf cart.

Where was I?

Ah yes…HomeGoods.

So, I finally get to HomeGoods.  I buy the dishes I came for and try to swipe my points card which hangs on my key ring and realize I don’t have my keys. My Smartcar doesn’t require keys  to turn itself on or off.  Did I turn the car off?  Cripes, the car is so smart it may be at Burger King having a whopper by now. I leave the dishes and find my car. It is running and I swear its snickering.

I hit the same button I previously hit by mistake and in my own NOT so sotto voce speak, smart9go home. And it calculates the route home.  Cue a crazed woman with a bald spot on the right side of her head, doing the dab dance in the parking lot.

I feel hope.

Over the next few weeks, armed with a 425-page manual, various YouTube videos, on-line tutorials, trial and error, and yes, my friends, screaming at the dashboard/virtual cockpit, I snatch the power from the Smartcar and become a Smartwoman. I learn to synch everything, master steering wheel controls, the start/stop system, the optional touchpad, the instrument cluster, the virtual cockpit, navigation system, voice activation, cruise control, Apple CarPlay, programmed smart7Sirius, set my seats and synch the climate. I am familiar with 87 possible indicator lights.

I put my trusty bag of old technology back into the old car.

I am a Smartwoman.

Now if I can just find the keys to get into my house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No doubt if you’re from Jersey, baby

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No doubt if you’re from Jersey, baby

I’m on a “get healthy” kick which includes clean eating, working with a nutritionist, and working out regularly. I’m feeling good about myself and how I look.  All that came to a jersey baby 2grinding halt last week.  It wasn’t because I was injured and couldn’t work out, or that I gave in to my insatiable and insane craving for bread and cookies. What happened was I took a trip to California.

It all started innocently enough on the plane ride out where it was obvious that most were going home to CA.  Their luggage matched. They had travelling shawls and jersey baby 10hydrating facial mist.  They carried salads. Those of us hailing from the Garden State were dressed mostly in the latest trend from Marshall’s.  Our luggage had duct tape. We carried donuts and coffee. The women next to me had 6 donuts which she happily handed out to everyone around her.  Jersey, baby. We share.

Upon arriving it seemed like every woman my age looked like she considered eating tofu a cheat day.  Skin so tight you could bounce a tennis ball off their cheeks, strange plumped lip lines, hair extensions, and huge enhancements up front. So much upkeep would be exhausting I told myself, trying to erase the fact that my right thigh was as big as their entire torso. From the back, they looked 18. From the front, they looked 58 trying to look 18. Jersey, baby. We look the same front and back.

Sitting around the pool was a 65-year-old guy in a speedo chatting up 2 twenty-somethings with double D’s. But he only spoke to them AFTER he finished with a few jersey baby 3push-ups. I felt like Shamu and I’m the thinnest I’ve been in years. The women around the pool…they didn’t get wet. I put my hair in a bun, put on my goggles, set some gangsta rap on my water iPod, and swam laps.  Jersey, baby. We get in the pool.

I texted my sister describing the scene.  She reminds me I can out swim them, out arm wrestle them, out shop them and out drink them. Which pretty much describes all my Jersey girls. My husband came to the pool, looked at the 20-somethings and started doing push-ups.  Just kidding. Jersey, baby. Husbands only have eyes for us – if they want to live.

Then there was dining out.  Every waiter when taking my order asked if I wanted the gluten-free option.  Was he also asking the starving vegan sitting at the table next to me ifjersey baby 4 she wanted the gluten-free option? Or just asking me, the fat sista from New Jersey? Finally, I said, “Look…go to the kitchen.  Find some Italian bread, and bring me the entire loaf.”  Jersey, baby. We eat.

On the positive side the weather was glorious. Even in winter, Californians hike mountains with the dazzling scent of eucalyptus and gaze at jersey baby 5breathtaking vistas.  Conversely, even in winter, New Jerseyans hike on a treadmill with the scent of that person next to us hiking on their treadmill, while gazing at the parking lot.  It’s spectacularly sunny in California and everything is in full bloom. Who wouldn’t want to live on the west coast.

I often wondered why my grandfather Angelo, made Newark, NJ his home.  Why, upon arriving Ellis Island from Italy didn’t he head to jersey baby 11California where he could have pursued his passion for growing vegetables, fig trees, and flowers all year-round.  The reason?  He had extended Italian family in Newark.  Jersey, baby. It’s never about the weather, but always about the family.

I suppose that’s why I still proudly hail from The Garden State. When my husband retired, he wanted to know, and I quote, “Why are we living here when we can live anywhere?”

Because in New Jersey what you see is what you get.  Because we dive into the pool and swim in the ocean worrying about our hair and make-up later. Because we like to eat healthy but we like spaghetti and meatballs too. Because we have that famous NJ humor which allows me to remain calm while the women sitting next to me spritzes her face with hydrating mist, thereby spritzing my ear.

Jersey, baby. So many reasons to live here.jersey baby 7

 

To my California friends and relatives…forgive me.  To my girlfriends and sister, you will probably see many of your comments in this article.  Thank you. xo

Ode to my father and the NY Mets

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Ode to my father and the NY Mets

The only time in my life that I ever saw my father seriously worried for my future was when I threw a baseball with the wrong foot forward.  Horrified, he made a quick adjustment and all was well in the Roberts household.

Whether they were winning or losing, my Dad and I have been lifelong Mets fans. Being an awesome father with high priorities, he suggested I skip school to watch them clinch the 1969 World Series and while I was living in Boston, a highlight of my life was getting us mets1tickets to every game of the 1986 Mets-Red Sox World Series at Fenway Park. Surrounded by grieving and oh so silent Red Sox fans we celebrated the Mets win being anything BUT silent and grieving. When Bill Buckner (no relation), first baseman for the Red Sox, watched that ball  go through his legs he became, and will remain my favorite baseball player of all time. And if you’re a Mets fan you know what I’m talking about.

It’s become our tradition that every year I take my father to a home game. Sitting with my Dad, a starting pitcher for Rutgers Newark ‘53-‘56, I learned there’s more to the game than meets the eye and the past 2 years were particularly fun because they were a winning team.

This year, for the first time in a long time, sadly, there was no plan to get to a game. My mets485-year old father was very unsteady due to a bad fall and needed a cane. So instead, we watched the games on his big-screen TV.

I’m not sure if it was because the Mets were killing it this year with a rag-tag team of triple A players to make up for a bruised and battered starting line-up, or the fact that there were no kosher hotdogs in the house, but he turned to me and said, “You only live once. Let’s go to a game.”

In the words of the great Yogi Berra, “Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good too.”

Off we went to Citifield.mets3

Arriving at the stadium, I opened the door to where my Dad sat and tried to calm my nerves. The long walk to the stadium mixed with the impatient, rowdy, and jostling NY crowd unnerved me. Ok, I thought, Ya Gotta Believe!

Slowly and carefully into the crowd we went. Almost immediately, we were met by a Citified representative who said, “Sir, what can I help you with?” I looked behind us. Was he speaking to my Dad? He was, and I almost hugged him out of gratitude. Showing him our tickets he escorted us to a private elevator. I felt like Kim Kardashian without the add-ons.

The elevator opened and another Citifield rep led us to the restaurant where 2 fans offered my father and I their seats. I made a b-line to the station serving kosher hot dogs and kraut. I hadn’t met so many smiling, helpful people in one place since Kindergarten.

Off to our seats where soon into the game another Citifield rep asked if we wanted to move to cushioned seats and I started to think having a senior with a cane had its advantages. Perhaps I would start an agency… Rent-a-Senior! Avoid all lines by hiring my Dad to be a stand-in at the DMV or Shop-Rite before a storm. He was a walking goldmine! But I digress, back to the Mets and my Dad.

It was a completely wonderful night capped off with a 10th run homer by Yo Céspedis which gave our Mets a win. When the game ended it was back to the star treatment and the private elevator.  I offered the elevator operator my autograph as I was now a legend, if only in my own mind.

You need a sense of humor to be a Mets fan.

That night my father set an example for me, (one of many in my lifetime): live and enjoy your life. Persevere, even if it takes time, patience, fear, and some pain to do it. But do it.

“The future ain’t what it used to be.”  ~ Yogi Berra

LETS GO METS!mets5

 

A special shout out to Mike G. and Elise P. who were sitting next to me during every game, even when they weren’t. Wait till next year!

“Email, texts, shmexts…what’s the difference”

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“Email, texts, shmexts…what’s the difference”

As our parents age there are many things we wish they would stop doing.  Driving, eating too much salt and sugar, or becoming too sedentary seem to be the most prevalent concerns that I’ve heard from my friends. My suggestion to my parents isn’t quite so health textschmexts1related.

I simply want my Mother to place her iPhone under the front tire of her car and then drive over it. Many times. Until it’s pulverized.

First, the calls to me:

“Delly?”

No Mom, its Tracy.

“I didn’t call you, I called Delly.”

Mom, you called ME. You’re talking to Tracy.

“Well I meant to call Delly.”

At times I may receive a text with a red pin on a map indicating her current location. According to the map she’s in her house and apparently not lost and hoping I can find her so there’s no need for alarm.

The FaceTime application makes me yearn for those days of the land line telephone. My mother doesn’t know why my face appears on her phone even though she is the one who textschmexts2initiated the Facetime call. It’s difficult to converse; she is too busy laughing and has no idea what to do next. Turning her phone this way and that makes her face jump side to side, up then down on my phone. I get dizzy trying to follow her image. Mom, I ask, what the heck are you doing?!  She replies, I’m LOLing.

Calling her takes patience until she figures out which pocket, which purse, which counter, which chair, which car, which room her phone is in. Then she swipes to answer. Usually she swipes the wrong way no less than 3 times disconnecting me each time. When we finally connect she’s still laughing.  I’m learning to take deep breaths as I count to 10.

When I call, and my mother’s out of the house she puts the phone on speaker and then textschmexts3places it to her ear.   I hear the lawn mower, the check-out girl, a blow dryer, all sounds going on around her but I can’t hear HER. She can’t hear me and I can’t hear her.  My ears are ringing. We’re like walking advertisements for Verizon…Can you hear me now?

Despite my frustration, my dizziness, and the constant ringing in my ears, I’m impressed technology doesn’t scare away this 80+ year old.  My interesting, intelligent mother reads the NY Times on her iPhone forwarding articles on Tesla, hedge fund tax loopholes, and recipes.  So it’s with patience, respect, love, and deep breathing that I explain to my mother that no, I didn’t receive her message in an email, but received it in a text which textschmexts5didn’t include the attachment indicated, and oh by the way the text went to 4 people I don’t know.  From my still feisty mother, “email, text, shmexts, what’s the difference.”  And she inserted a red faced emoji.

But the worst day of my life happened with the inevitable, dreaded phone call.

I knew it was coming, but still not quite prepared for it.

My distraught sister on the line, tearfully saying…

“Mom’s on Facebook.”

STEP AWAY from Facebook, I quickly texted my mother. This is nothing to be LOLing about. She texted back an emoji of a certain hand gesture.

So I accepted her Facebook friend request.facebookheart

It might be easier to get her to stop driving.

Laughter through the walls

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Laughter through the walls

This past December, my husband and I took our two twenty-something-year-old kids on a vacation to St. Croix. I love vacationing as a family but the older your kids get the more opinionated they become on what is considered vacation worthy and what isn’t. Fun for laughter1my daughter is a beach.  Fun for my son is anything BUT the beach.  It gets a little heated between those two and telling them to face the wall and think about their behavior and tone doesn’t work anymore. My dream of being The Walton’s had faded long ago.

So in past vacations it usually came down to my husband and son claiming any activity with the word extreme in front of it, and my daughter and I sitting on a beach with an extreme tiki bar.

But this vacation was different. I thought someone had kidnapped my children, replacing them with siblings who could actually agree on something. When did this happen? It certainly hadn’t happened all through grade school when I paid my son to be nice to his sister for the babysitter.  It hadn’t happened when I paid my daughter to play NASCAR on GameCube with her brother. And for all of you who say bribery will get you no where… guess again. I was constantly asking my husband for $20.

laughter2It’s expensive trying to be the Walton’s.

During this vacation we went to tiki bars….TOGETHER! We went to beaches TOGETHER! Both wanted to ride wave runners and ride on ATV’s…TOGETHER!  I was dumfounded.  Was that my daughter covered in mud and laughing as her brother deliberately ran through every single mud puddle? When the Captain on a boat trip to an outer island invited my son to ride up on the bridge, his only question was, “can I bring my sister?”

Turning to my husband wide eyed, I said, “Did you bribe them to be nice to each other? Is that why you’re always searching for your wallet?  Did he really say, “Can I bring my sister”?

OMG we were the  freaking Waltons!

I always pictured a life with my grown children living close enough to drop in whenever they wanted, to come for Sunday dinner.  But my son was switching jobs and had accepted laughter4a position in California and my daughter, who would soon be graduating college, had accepted a job in Boston. Those sweet childhood years would be in my rear view mirror and my role as Mom was changing.  It’s a turning of the page, I guess.

At the end of our vacation both kids presented my husband and me with a thoughtful and generous gift; but they could have saved their money. Their friendship with each other was priceless. Their greatest gift to us was their laughter I heard through the walls long after we had gone to bed.  It filled me up with such happiness it’s hard to describe. Despite their bickering all those years it was evident they were their own biggest fans. My daughter told me it had always been so, that bickering and siblings go together.  Imagine the money I could have saved.

As we were getting ready to leave for the airport to catch our flight home and thinking we should be singing kumbaya, my son looked at my daughter and said, “You are not going to the airport in those shorts.”  And then my daughter looked at my son and said….facebookheart

Well…

I can’t really repeat what she said.

I’m not expecting perfection.

After all, the Walton’s aren’t a real family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then/Now (back in the day)

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Then/Now (back in the day)

I noticed a sign outside a restaurant:

“No wifi.

Talk to each other.

Call your Mom.

Pretend it’s 1993

Live”

Normally I would agree.

grumpy1I have made of career of complaining about NOW and how it was better THEN. And based on all the positive responses I get, many of you feel the same.  But it’s like we have become our parents, grumbling and saying things like….

(Back in the day we didn’t need 600 on-line friends.  We had five or six who were from the neighborhood who didn’t need to plug into anything to have fun, and were usually waiting outside to play ringalerio).

There’s a lot of complaining about today’s technology and what it’s done to us on a personal and social level but I’ve started to embrace the fact that there are some real positives to being “plugged in”.

(Back in the day, we didn’t have texting.  Your boyfriend had to break up with you in person)

THEN, there was the telephone. NOW, there’s texting.  Without it I would never hear from my kids as much as I do.  Granted it’s embarrassing when I text something to my son that was supposed to go to my brother but as grumpy2soon as I see, “huh?” I know I’ve done something wrong.  It’s also clear that I’m not quite getting through to my mother (who calls me every day, sometimes a few times a day) on the difference between texting and FaceTime. Patience I remind myself.  It will help me get into heaven. My daughter says, “Nanny’s face keeps appearing on my phone during class”. Practice patience I tell her.  It will help you get into heaven.

(Back in the day we had to read a map).

NOW, I couldn’t live without GPS.

grumpy3THEN, I remember being in a constant state of lost. My blood pressure rising while valuable minutes slipped away. My way around this was 1-800-CALL-DAD but first I had to find a phone booth and hope I had dimes.  NOW, with GPS I’m never lost. My blood pressure remains constant while a sweet voice calmly recalculates without ever once saying “Lady, WTF?”  My husband asks, “Don’t you want to have an idea of where you are going before you head off?” No.  I do not.

(Back in the day we were happy with AM radio and the music was better).

NOW there’s my beloved IPOD. THEN I carpooled to middle school while a friend’s father insisted on listening to opera and wishing I had a pencil to stick in my eye. NOW I never have to listen to someone else’s music; not grumpy4to mention all the great music apps that I don’t mind paying for. And since everyone in my family, including my 84 year old Dad, uses my password to share their music stations it’s very eclectic to say the least. Think the following playlists: John Phillip Sousa, Lil Wayne, Rolling Stones, Judy Garland, Bix Beidebecke,  Country Fitness, Akon, 50 cent, Bruce, Broadway, Glenn Miller and NO OPERA.

But my all time favorite thing about NOW is Google search and my personal assistant, SIRI.  There’s something wonderful about typing the word eschatology on the dictionary app and instantly knowing what it means. (Back when I was your age we had to walk over to the shelf and use an actual dictionary).

grumpy5NOW, I can find a solution to getting oil stains out of a sweater, if it’s safe to freeze chopped liver, how to mix a Moscow Mule. NOW, we can look up a new drug for Alzheimer’s, listen to how a song is supposed to be played on the piano before practicing it wrong for 2 weeks, get a list for the best Caribbean vacation spots in December,  amazing hotels,  what they look like, and some reviews.  We can find the weather in Canberra and pack accordingly, track a flight, find cheap gas, check the NASDAC, reserve a cab, map the stars at night and know how to perfectly poach a chicken, …INSTANTLY!  (Back when I was your age we had to read a cookbook).

And these are just on my short list of what I love about NOW!  So instead of complaining about the disappearance of all that was THEN, make your own list of what you are better for NOW.  You might be happily surprised of all you have gained.

I was.

Then turn off your WIFI and go call your Mom. It will help you with your patience and getting into heaven.

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Beach bag bell curve

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Beach bag bell curve

beach1Show me a bag anyone is bringing to the beach and I’ll tell you how old they are.  It’s like looking at a bell curve of your life: the bag starts small, becomes larger until it’s bursting then slowly tapers off.

Like your life.

During the teenage years I carried a very small beach bag.  All I needed was a bikini, baby oil, a chair, and Cousin Brucie on the radio. My Italian mother supplied lunch for the entire beach whether she knew you or not.  Back then I wasn’t worrying about what I looked like from the side or behind. I sat upright in my chair because I could.  Because when I looked down I wasn’t wondering, “how the heck did that happen?”

The dating years come; the bag gets larger.  You are still in a bikini and haven’t yet had children, who destroy your life,

…I mean your body.

The chair remains upright.beach2

My mother still supplied the lunch but only if she liked my boyfriend. No lunch delivered, I knew he was history. When I brought my future husband around she delivered breakfast and lunch to the beach and my dad carried down gin and tonics.

…Subtle like a sledgehammer, my parents.

During the years I was raising children, getting to the beach required a large bag busting with shovels, pails, sunglasses, flip-flops, trucks, diapers, sun screen, hats, and diapers , along with beach4strollers, small tents, umbrellas, and chairs.  Attempting to cross Ocean Ave to the beach with 2 kids in tow required an act of God.  By the time I had survived the crossing, unpacked, the cramp in my bicep finally subsiding, it never failed that one of my kids needed to go back to the house to use the bathroom. The bikini has been traded in for a mu-mu. And that chair?  My sister, 8 years my junior with a tight stomach and no kids now sits in it…upright.

Currently my bag is considerably smaller, my life quite different.  This was apparent when I spent a few days with a girlfriend at the beach. She used to remind me to bring my ingredients for margaritas, now it’s my heart meds, gluten free wraps, probiotics, and vitamins. I used to remind her to bring sauvignon blanc, now it’s microwaveable quinoa, green tea pills and bee pollen for our metabolism.  We lined everything up on the bar and took a picture of our “stash” to send to friends remembering how we used to send pictures of cosmopolitans. The sun is no longer our friend so our hats are large enough to carry a small child.

I’ve ditched the mu-mu and am back in a 2-piece but that chair needs to be at a very specific back-angle so that it appears I have a flat stomach. One notch up in the wrong direction and it’s all over.

Now about that bag… Sometimes I forget the bag. Sometimes I forget the book.  Sometimes I have the book but forget the beach3glasses to read the book.  I wish my kids were around so I could send them back to get whatever it is that I’ve left behind. It would make me feel like I had gotten my money’s worth for giving birth to them.

And when I finally make it to the beach, unpack, grab my hat, unfold the chair, put up the umbrella, get out the book, apply sunscreen, what’s the first thing I do?

I face the beautiful ocean.

Grab that small bag.

Turn around and head back for the bathroom.

I’m scrolling…

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I’m scrolling…

facebookWhen I first activated my Facebook account I loved everything about it because it provided me with opportunities not otherwise available.  I could connect with relatives from Italy that I had heard about my whole life but hadn’t met.  I could follow my brother as he traveled the world. I could see what my friends from high school had been up to for the past 30 years.  I could follow my kids in pictures wisely spending my tuition money.

Today, however, I think Facebook is so annoying that I find I am yelling at myself for even looking at it. I decided it was time kick my ridiculous habit.

I had a plan.

I started off checking Facebook once a day and not every single time I had a down moment.  I wondered if I would I miss out on all that useful information like “50 things lemons are good for,” (how come mixing with vodka wasn’t on the list?) and advice that I “should create something that inspires someone”. (Does making dinner suffice?). I’m now down to checking it every few days.

After a week there is quite a bit of useful information that I missed…said no one ever.facebook2

So I’m scrolling.

A lot.

Am I at a disadvantage because I don’t know what the color of my personality reveals, what the first letters of my name mean, if I’m a vocabulary genius, a medical savant, what my name means in German, what I would have been in a previous life, what the first word I see in a word gram means, who my sweetest friend is, (none of my friends are sweet, that’s why they’re my friends), and if I want to tell my brother and sister they’re the best?  (I do, but I don’t need Facebook).

I’m scrolling.

Why is there so much food on Facebook?  If you have cooked it yourself and are including the recipe, I’ll read it and sometimes prepare it. If you sipped an awesome drink and have the recipe (Hippie Juice was one of my favorites), I’ll print it out and try it. But if you’re taking a picture of food just served to you while sitting in a restaurant… I’m scrolling.

And then there are the incredible amounts of selfies.

There’s a reason Disney has banned selfies-sticks from their theme parks.

Thankfully I have friends who post selfies that I LOVE: in a salon getting color put on their hair hoping for that natural look (hilarious), selfies with muddy and bruised bodies from an arduous bike race (love it), sweaty and sunburned from a workout (perfect), camping in the rain, (not a good hair day but posted anyway…(brave because you look so bad!), bleary eyed from studying around the clock, (brings back memories), a melt-down selfie after your favorite team has lost…again (priceless) .

For these, I stop scrolling.

But when I see perfectly coiffed and made up selfies of only one person, and that’s YOU…I’m scrolling.

facebook3What exactly is the rule for posting your face everywhere on social media?  If you Like it on Facebook, do you also need to Heart it on Instagram? If you get 55 Likes on Facebook but only 15 on Instagram of the same picture does that mean people changed their minds or does it just mean they find you annoying?

Why, I ask, do you need people to say that they love your face (stunning!), your make-up (so pretty!), your eyelashes (to die for!), your lipstick (amazing!), your hair (gorge), your brows (so full!)?

I don’t know why!

I’m scrolling.

And those words of wisdom that I don’t know how I ever survived without.  Did you know that a mother is always a mother, she never stops worrying? (really?) Did you know you should treat someone like you want to be treated? (OK, I’m still facebook4working on that), Did you know that you shouldn’t take anything personally? (I’m Italian…I take EVERYTHING personally),  Did you know that God is there for you in your darkest moments?  I didn’t know any of this!

THANK YOU Facebook!

I’m scrolling.

However…

If your posting pictures of your family and life events, grandchildren being born, graduations, engagements, weddings, first day of kindergarten, last day of high school, the college drop-off, first drive behind a wheel, flags on Veterans Day, a loved facebookheartone remembered, vacations taken, sunsets, sunrises, how to do a proper plank, nature shots, pets, pictures of grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great grandparents, family reunions, weight loss, personal journeys, mountains climbed and conquered…

For this I will stop scrolling.

Because I said so!

Standard

I was standing in line at Dunkin Donuts behind a mother and her pre-school son, Thomas. They were discussing the family dinner plans. Thomas, like most kids today, was under the impression that his vote counted. Oh, I thought to myself, this should be interesting.

Mother: We will discuss what we are having for dinner when we get home and can include your sister in our decision.
Thomas: Jessica got to pick dinner last night; it’s my turn to pick dinner.
Mother: Yes, that’s true but we will discuss it as a family so everyone is happy.

And there is the first mistake…the discussion and subsequent negotiation over dinner plans made between a
40-something-year-old and her 5-year-old son.

When I was growing up my mother gave me two choices when it came to dinner: TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT. My takeorleave1happiness didn’t come into play. If I had friends over she never asked if they wanted curly macaroni or flat, crusts on or off, or this….which I swear one of my friends asked….do you want the napkin folded in a square or a triangle? If my mother had ever asked me how I wanted my napkin folded I would have run out of the room screaming thinking an alien had taken over her body.

One thing has become abundantly clear to me. From the time children are in pre-school, they are seasoned negotiators. We foster it. We allow it. I never negotiated with my parents. Their way or the highway? You betcha.

I didn’t learn how to negotiate until I was married.

Do you ever remember asking your parents “why” when they told you to do something? WHY? My mother would say. Now, let’s repeat all together people of my generation…WHY? BECAUSE I SAID SO! No negotiating, no family consensus,takeorleave2 no family hug. If my face showed that I wasn’t happy about the decision I would be told again folks, lets repeat together…STOP CRYING OR I’LL GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO CRY ABOUT.

I remember actually asking my kids what time was fair for a curfew. Are you kidding me, my mother who always sits on my right shoulder was frantically whispering…Who is the parent here? While growing up, my curfew was never up for negotiation. Was yours? There was one choice only: be home by the designated time or, or else. No negotiation or consensus necessary. Was I happy? No. Did my parents care if I was happy? No. Was I home by the designated time? No. But that’s a different article.

When did we get to the point we are today where everyone needs to be happy or you feel like you have failed as a parent. Kids today don’t know what it’s like to be unhappy. They barely ever hear the word N0 and they feel they deserve the last word, or a word, in the ever-present family negotiations.

takeitorleave4Nothing was discussed with me or my siblings and guess what? We had awesome childhoods! We had plenty of our own decisions…kid decisions. Like, would I ride my bike to school or walk? Would my brother play baseball or soccer? Would my sister play with Sandy or Doreen after school? We weren’t asked our opinion on dinner, on where we went on vacation, or what color should our next car be. We heard the word no and lived with it. We expected it. And if you asked me to name one adjective to describe my childhood, it would be the word HAPPY with a capital H.

We were better off and better prepared for life’s disappointments.

So if I could have interrupted that mom I would have told her that her child isn’t quite a lawyer yet…that she can say no.

And that when she got home she should use another line from my awesome, happy, and filled with the word NO childhood….SOMEDAY WHEN YOU ARE MY AGE YOU WILL UNDERSTAND.

NOW EAT WHATS IN FRONT OF YOU.

BECAUSE I SAID SO.

IF AFTER READING THIS YOU HAVE ANY CLASSIC COMMENTS FROM YOUR CHILDHOOD, PLEASE LEAVE THEM IN THE COMMENT SECTION BELOW. I WOULD LOVE TO PUBLISH A LIST!

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