Thursday, January 31, 2013

I Was "Missed" Last Weekend

“Have a nice day, Miss.”

The word rolled off of his tongue like it was nothing.  No hesitation, no hint of mocking in his tone.  No allusion at all to the fact that he drove into the sandwich shop on his learners permit, with his mom riding gun; while I drove into the sandwich shop on a pillow because my sciatic was acting up, with two empty booster seats in the back.  

It took every fiber of my being not to jump over the counter and maul the kid.  Not maul like Cujo-maul; maul like jump-his-bones-maul.  My kids weren’t with me.  The shop was basically empty.  But still, it was the middle of the day and I am technically in the middle of my life.  Realistically, I wouldn’t have even made it all the way over the counter.  And the last thing I need right now is a statutory conviction. 

“Have a nice day, MISS.”

His words echoed in my head.  I couldn’t remember the last time I was “Missed”.  I feel like I’ve been “Ma’am'ed” for the past decade straight.

I played the pathetic scene out in my mind.  

I’d abandon my purse on the floor in front of the rack of Fritos, Sun and Lays chips; and the packages of Tastykakes.  The packages of Tastykake Cream Filled Koffee Kake Cupcakes with the cream clinging to the inside of the top of clear and blue cellophane wrapper that I held in my right hand just moments prior, then reluctantly placed back on the rack with an audible sigh.

Next, I’d hoist my ass up on the counter between the cash register and glass case that protects the sandwich toppings, then try to swing my legs around counter-clockwise.  When the sandwich case proved impossible to negotiate over or around, I’d swing my legs clockwise and awkwardly elevate them over the back of the register, knocking the stacks of cups down, along with the tip cup, and my freshly prepared sandwiches.  By this time, the kid probably would have run to the back room and called 911, or worse: his mom.   

In reality, I simply craned my head down and tried unsuccessfully to establish eye contact with him to express to him just how appreciative I was.  Alas, the brim of his hat hung too low.   

“THANK YOU!”  I practically screamed but the kid was already deep in conversation with his co-worker about a shift trade.

I will not soon forget you, sandwich kid with the pale skin, rogue pimples, and over-grown curls hanging out of your navy blue cap...

And I really wish I had a package of those cupcakes right about now...

Let's hope the Tastykakes' team manages their bottom line
more closely than our friends at Hostess.

In case you somehow forgot or never experienced the awesomeness, America’s least beloved canine:

Seriously one of the scariest movies I have ever seen.  Just don’t watch it with a naysayer like Jeff.

And a birthday shout-out to BIG PERM - this one's for you!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Go Cubs!

An old colleague turned very dear friend died suddenly this past weekend at the age of 33.

I didn’t hire him when he first interviewed with me, which he would never let me forget.  I tried to convince him that the important thing was that I remembered him, kept his resume, and called him back when another position opened up.

“Whatever, Liz, why can’t you just admit that you made a mistake?”

“Why didn’t you sell yourself better in the first interview?”

“C’mon, we talked about going to Cubs games.  I nailed that interview.”  

While both Illinois natives, his love for the Cubs ran far deeper than mine, possibly deeper than even Harry Caray’s.

“If you ‘nailed it’, as you say, then why didn’t I give you the job?”

“You mean why did you hire some idiot instead of kick ass me?  You’re going to have to answer that question for yourself.”

“Maybe you kick more ass in your mind than anywhere else?  Ever think about that?”

“Fuck off.”

…and it would go on and on and on... 

He regularly tortured me with this debate and many others for the six years we worked together, and occasionally in the years that followed; but it was all well worth it. 

It seems we gain the most from those who challenge us the most.  They help us to think more, to do more, to be more, and of course to laugh more (usually at ourselves).

So I am sad today for my loss; but feel sadder for the friends and colleagues with whom he shared his life most.  And feel saddest for his mother, father and brothers that I know he adored.  

He was just so young.

I also feel sorry for the Cubs, the Bears, The Lakers (mostly Kobe), Eddie Veder and the entire Pearl Jam band, each of which lost a super fan of the highest order.  He defended them like they were his children, especially when they missed a play, lost a game, didn’t make it to the play-offs, or released an entire album of Ukulele songs. 

I don’t know why I have this song in my head today.  Maybe because it is simply about living and doing what you want to do…something he certainly did a lot of in his brief life. 

If You Want to Sing Out:

And if he heard it, he would probably say: 

“Seriously, Liz, you couldn’t pick a fucking Pearl Jam song for your stupid blog?”

And I would say: 

“Pearl Jam isn’t the only fucking band in the universe.”

And he would say: 

“But they’re the BEST fucking band in the universe.  You know they are.”

…and it would go on and on and on...  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Show and Tell

"What are you looking at?"

I can’t remember if I was ever Star of the Week at school.  I received an award from an old employer in 2006…but who wasn’t getting awards from their employers in 2006?…Anyone who didn’t get an award from their employer in 2006 definitely received one in 2007…then the bottom dropped out.

But I digress.

I am currently living with a Star of the Week.  Truth be told, he is the Star of My Every Week but recognition at home doesn’t carry the kind of perks that Star of the Week at school brings.  Like having your teacher’s permission to bring your giant, old black Labrador retriever to school for Show and Tell.

“Mommy, she said I can bring Stitch.”

“I don’t know, honey.  There are 'no dogs allowed' signs all over campus.”

“Julia brought her iguana.”

“Iguanas are different from big dogs.  Has anyone ever brought a dog?”

“Yes, Audrey brought her dog.  It was big and it’s only one.”

Nick knows the difference between puppy behavior and the behavior of our stately, soon-to-be-ten-year old, pure bread, ex-show dog.  That’s right.  I am bragging about my dog that I didn’t train.  That’s what my life has become.

“Was her dog as big as Stitch?” 

I’m not calling my Nick a liar but a tall-tale-teller if it means getting what he wants, absolutely.

“Yes.  Definitely as big as Stitch.”   

“Alright, honey.  I’ll send your teacher an email to confirm day and time.  And I’ll get Stitch groomed for his big appearance.”

“Thanks, Mommy.  I am so excited.  I know they will looove Stitch.”

Stitch visited the groomer Tuesday.  When I went to pick him up, she asked if he’d been more lethargic lately, if he was drinking less water.  I said I hadn’t noticed any behavior changes and we always give him a healthy amount of water mixed in his food bowl, a bowl that he continues to leave pristine after what feels like no more than 15 seconds of power consumption, so he is definitely drinking water twice daily.

“Well his coat has changed and he has lost weight since last time.” She continued.

“He was just here in the beginning of December. And he’s been getting the same food plus treats and more fruit lately.” 

It doesn't matter if Stitch is sound asleep on his bed in our bedroom upstairs, when the knife hits the cutting board at the first slice of an apple for the boys, Stitch is at my side in an instant, tail wagging.   

“I know.  When is the last time he went to the vet?”  She persisted.

“He just went for a check-up and boosters in October.”

“Well, next time you go in, ask them to do a blood panel for thyroid.  I’m worried about his thyroid.”

I could feel my chest tighten.  Fortunately, I had Jeff with me.  

As we walked out the door of the groomer, he gave his typical response to just about anyone's assessment of anything that he doesn't agree with:

“She’s full of shit.  She doesn’t know what she’s talking about.”

Whether his response was born of a genuine belief that our crazy groomer who talks openly about having fleas because she sleeps with her flea ridden dogs really is full of shit, or Jeff too felt his chest tighten at the thought of our Stitch beginning to show physical signs of aging, I'll never know. 

When we arrived home, I gave Stitch a treat and topped off all three of his water bowls before returning to my desk and getting lost in work.

Stitch's big moment came yesterday.  I followed his teacher’s email instructions:

                Bring him five minutes before school lets out.

I felt I was running late because that’s how I seem to perpetually live my life so we parked the car and ran together to Nick’s classroom door.  Of course Stitch had to stop, sniff, and relieve himself here and there but fortunately the latter was done on some shrubs “outside the school gates”.

The classroom door was open when we arrived, both out of breath.  I caught Nick's teacher’s eye and she came to the door.

“We just started a lesson so it will be a couple minutes.”

Soon Nicky was at the door, all smiles.

“Is it time, honey?  Did your teacher say it’s time to bring Stitch in?”

The kids seemed to be putting away papers.

“Let me ask.”  Nick bolted into the class and back in seconds.  “It’s time!”

We shared Stitch’s retractable leash handle as we walked inside together, to the front of the class.  The kids were already getting loud and a little rambunctious.

“Nick, do you want to tell everyone about Stitch?”  I asked.

“No, you tell them.”  He was quick to reply.

I began to search my brain for where I would start…where I could start…I ran a few scenarios through my mind…

ME: We adopted Stitch when he was 17 months old because we couldn’t get pregnant, and the following month the IVF worked.  He’s our good luck charm…

SECOND GRADERS: Mrs. Pieri, what’s IVF?

Scratch that.

ME: We were going to get a puppy but when we met Stitch, he was so nice and the breeder told us they couldn’t breed him out because they found separation in his hip joint which is a marker for hip dysplasia.  They said he may develop a limp and that’s why I hold my breath every time I watch him go up and down the stairs.

SECOND GRADERS: What’s hip dysplasia?


ME: The first time I heard Stitch bark was when a stranger came to our door after Nick and his brother came home from the hospital.  He was protecting us.

SECOND GRADERS: From what, Mrs. Pieri?

That won’t work.

ME: I have the best pictures of Nick and his brother putting stickers on Stitch when they were not quite two years old.  Stitch just laid there and let them have fun stickering him up.  Stitch has always been such a good dog; such a kind, old soul.

That’s it!

I started, “When Nick and his brother were really little…”  My voice caught.  I could feel the tears coming.

“What mommy?”  Nick looked up at me, wanting me to continue.  None of the other kids seemed to notice or care as rambunctiousness had turned to chaos when Stitch caught the scent of who knows what under a cluster of desks and scurried himself between legs and under chairs and desks.    

I smiled down at Nick. 

“What do you think they want to know?”

“They can ask questions.”  Nick decided.


“Ok.  Does anyone have any questions about Stitch?”  I asked as I pulled Stitch out from under the cluster of desks.

The hands slowly went up and at the same time, Stitch began to sniff his way over to another cluster of desks, his back and the top of his head covered in little hands that were now following him around the room.

“How old is Stitch?”

“Did you name him?”

“Does he bite?”

 And my personal favorite:

“…um…I think I forgot.”

Soon the final bell rang and there Stitch and I stood alone together, all but forgotten.  Even by Nick, who had moved on to conspiring with his brother for an after school play date.

I have never considered myself a “dog person”, though I did grow up in a household that had one or more dogs at all times.  All I can say and say with a great deal of certainty is that Stitch has given me; my family; and countless children in my home, on walks, and at the park, more than most human beings I know. 

And he just keeps giving.

Stitch today (as featured on Nick's Star of the Week poster).

Yes, I’ve looked into it and it turns out it’s not such a good idea…not that I’ve made my final decision…


Monday, January 21, 2013

Not So Fly, Not So Girl

Fellow Forever Forty-one Shoppers Deep in Competition

It’s funny getting older and looking back on all those awkward phases you went through growing up. 

The braces…

The break-outs…

The perms…truth be told, I miss my perms…I will always love big hair.

For those who embraced the eighties with reckless abandon; the hairspray, baby-blue frosted eye-shadow and peach frosted lipstick…

And for those of us, and I may be going out on a limb here, who thought the dress code for high school keggers in the late eighties and early nineties was business casual: the blazers, tailored slacks and loafers…

On a recent trip up to visit my best friend from high school at her home in Seattle, she pulled out the old photo albums for a quick trip back in time. 

Julie and I met at the end of our junior year of high school, myself a fresh transplant from Minneapolis to Southern California; and Julie a fresh transplant from our town's closest, all girls, Catholic high school.

We hit it off instantly and have been each other’s wing-woman, so to speak, ever since.  Yet it can’t be denied that the rock solid foundation of our friendship was built during several of many high school house parties.

Julie was a California girl, born and raised.  And she had an older sister.  And boobs.  Her high school evening attire typically consisted of a pair of short shorts; a thick belt; a tight and/or cropped top; and long, scrunched socks tucked into a pair of white LA Gear and sometimes black Michael “Air” Jordan high tops.  In the mild, California winter months, she might throw on an acid-washed denim or black leather jacket to stave off the evening chill.  Julie was like a slightly taller, slightly clumsier, white, Jenny from the Block (see Flygirl).  Looking back, her look denoted an energy and youthfulness very befitting of a Southern California class of 1990 high school senior.

Now my look.  My look was quite different, as evidenced by the photo albums Julie has kept over these past, now twenty plus years. 

“How did you hang out with me?” I asked Julie as I flipped through picture after picture of crisp blouses, turtlenecks, blazers, long skirts, and the occasional khaki pant.

“That was just you.”  She said.  “That was your look.”

“Look at this picture!?!  One of these things is SO COMPLETELY not like the others.”

If Julie and many of the other female members of my high school graduating class had chosen the group of dancers known as the Flygirls from the then new, sketch comedy TV series In Living Color as their style icons, I had clearly chosen my mother’s, or probably any bi-weekly Bridge group from the Midwestern part of the United States as mine.  Somehow to me, those zany dames had their collective finger on the pulse of fashion, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary presented by my peers.  

When the album page flipped and Julie and I got to the pictures of her 18th birthday party, January of our senior year, I about fell on the floor.  There I was, in a two-piece paisley ensemble: a long sleeve blouse paired with a pair of long, matching paisley gaucho pants in burgundy and brown hues (dry clean only).  I was like a Thanksgiving dinner table cloth dropped in a sea of animal prints and black with splashes of vibrant reds, teals and pinks.   

“Seriously, Julie,” we were both howling on the floor at this point.  “Why the HELL didn’t you stop me?”
“Dude, I don’t know.  That was just you.  You always just did you.”

And Julie continues to stand by me all these years and strange choices later, simply allowing me to just be me. 

All anyone can really ask for in a friend.

And for the record, I did own a pair of acid-washed, zipper bottom Guess jeans during that era. 

They were floods.   

Julie and I when she was visiting this past summer.

Stupid, party of five?

Thinking of getting into the "Bridge" game?  A good place to start:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Changing Gears

I’m going to keep this one short and sweet. 

I finished my book today.  Final read-through.  PDF version saved.  Like, filled-out-the-form-for-the-Library-of-Congress-Copyright-Office-DONE!

64,967 words that I hope someone finds entertaining.  If not, oh well.  I tend to just amuse myself most of the time, anyway.

Quite serendipitously, I received a card from my best friend from high school today.  A note to cheer me across the finish line!

The card cover.

I am very excited.  Like, I-can’t-believe-I-haven’t-shit-my-pants-EXCITED!

But I suppose I haven’t shit my pants for some time now…man, those were the days…

A card that the daughter of beautiful friend made for me more than a year ago now
when they caught wind that I had a writing project in the works
(that's me holding my then incomplete book on the left).

Friday, January 11, 2013


It’s that time again.  Out with the old and in with the new.  Habits that is. 

A lot of talk of commitments to do better, feel better, be better this time of year.  I must say I’ve heard more talk of fear of over-commitment this year than in years past.  I guess this makes sense on some levels.  You don’t want to over commit.  It doesn’t make sense to make unattainable or seemingly unattainable resolutions only to break them and feel worse than when you started.  But you have to stretch yourself at least a little, right?  Your efforts may not take you to exactly the place you thought, exactly when you thought they would but they will surely take you somewhere. 

And somewhere is ALWAYS better than nowhere.

Inspiration is a key ingredient in keeping me on track with my resolutions.  Observing others, grown-ups and kids alike, making commitments and sticking to them – to their marriage or to their health or to their book report or to their career or to their baseball swing or to helping a friend through a difficult time – inspires me to actually do the work that I need to do to achieve my goals.  

That inspiration helps when I find myself taking that step back in my mind yet again to think about the near and long term implications of my goals.  Because there are always bad implications mixed with the good ones, especially in the near term.  It's not always easy.  You always have to sacrifice something - that's the work part.  And that can be a lot.  It can be overwhelming, especially when you think about working at whatever it is you are choosing to work at every single day.

Sometimes I have to look for my inspiration.  I often read magazine profiles about people overcoming obstacles to achieve their goals and I sometimes read entire books – self-help type books about decision making or raising children or learning to focus on what is essential.   

And sometimes inspiration seems to just fall out of the sky.

Like yesterday.

Yesterday, while working away at my desk, I received a call with very special news about a very special little girl in my life.  A little girl who has been working very hard every single day to overcome her unique set of challenges since the day she took her very first breath.

Yesterday, she let go of her walker and took her first few steps.  All by herself.   A feat that at one time her specialists didn’t think she would accomplish until she was six or seven years old, my niece accomplished just yesterday at the age of not quite three and a half.

How’s that for inspiration?     

An inspirational quote I like:

And an inspirational song I LOVE:

RIP James Brown

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Baking Baby Jesus in a Cake

“Mommy, am I Jewish?”

I was awoken by these words from my son Vince not quite a month ago now.  He was standing in the doorway to our bedroom in his pajamas, eyes half-opened, hair mussed.  I normally pride myself on rising before my children, especially on school days, but this particular Thursday morning followed an evening of holiday merriment I had shared with about 40 other mothers from their elementary school – a borderline religious experience in its own right.

I opened and closed my eyes, trying to wake up, my mind began to reel:

Holy shit. 

Here it is.  This is it.  This is what I get for introducing no formal religious education to my children whatsoever throughout their entire lives.  

Why didn’t we just baptize them Catholic or Episcopalian like our parents wanted?  Jeff and I don’t have to have strong religious beliefs.  Don’t we have an obligation to at least expose them to some religion while they’re growing up?  Then they can make a choice as adults, just as we did. 

But we agreed we’d feel like hypocrites walking into any church on a Sunday morning and pretending.  So disrespectful.  

Ugh!  We knew this day would come.  What do I say?  What can I say?  What will Vince even understand? 

Why the hell didn’t he ask Jeff? 

I laid there a beat longer, searching the white ceiling for answers. 

“No, honey.  You’re not Jewish.”  I finally answered. 

“Ethan’s Jewish.”  He was quick to reply.

“I know.”  I told him. 

Fortunately, I knew both Ethan and his mother.  I met them this past September after school started.  She is a very lovely woman – bright smile, warm, engaging, and very together.  She walks her boys to school every day.  I see her well-quaffed ponytail bouncing back and forth behind her boys on their bikes on the way to school some mornings.  She never has stale mascara on her eyelashes at drop off either.  She has two very polite young sons.  In fact, my boys just received a hand-written thank you in the mail in Ethan's hand for his birthday presents.  The more I think about it, the more I am realizing how perfectly buttoned-up this Miss Manners Mom is...  

Anyway, the big question of faith came in the middle of December so we were in the middle of Hanukkah.  Of course Ethan was talking about his family’s faith with his buddies at recess just as I’m sure Vince was talking about his faith: that even though he was naughty sometimes, his parents would still pretend to mail his wish list to a pretend man who lives in a pretend place called the North Pole and Vince would surely be the proud owner of a new, over-priced dirt bike come the morning of December 25th.

I was now officially awake.  I tried to jog my memory in preparation for Vince’s next curiosity which I was confident would come in the form of one of two questions:

1. Why aren’t I Jewish?
2. What is Jewish? (my money was on this one)

I remembered walking into their class to volunteer earlier that week and the class was copying a couple paragraphs from the projector about Hanukkah onto their papers.
What did that projector say?

I drew a blank. 

All I could think of was that damn Adam Sandler song:

Hanukkah is the festival of lights,
Instead of one day of presents,
We have eight crazy nights. 

I’ll go with that.  If he tries to scratch the surface on what it means to be Jewish, I’ll say something about lights and celebrating and the eight days and the Menorah.  If I get in too deep, I can just start singing the Dreidel song…

Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel,
I made it out of clay…

while I walk downstairs to make breakfast. 

I felt ready for Vince’s next question.

“Mommy, where’s your iPad?”

“I think it’s charging on my desk.” 

Phew.  Star Wars Angry Birds saves the day.

This conversation has been haunting me for weeks now.  I have to help them begin to learn about religion.  I told myself I would go to the library and see if I could find some books on religion over the break. 

No, not the Bible or the Torah or the Koran.  There has to be some book, or maybe a series of books that sort of dumbs down the nuts and bolts of these various beliefs for the elementary set.  I just want to give my sons some perspective.  Some understanding of what their classmates are talking about when they talk about being Muslim or Christian or Hindu or whatever religion.  I want them to be aware and be respectful. 

Two weeks came and went and we never made it to the library.  To date, the only quasi-religious lesson they have received from their parents beyond their brief stint at a Christian pre-school at the age of 3 remains:

“Don’t say ‘Oh my God’.  God is very important to a lot of people and they may find it offensive.” 

School started back up yesterday after the two week Winter Break.  Not surprisingly, I didn’t realize that just the day before (Sunday, January 6), actually marked another religious celebration for some Christian denominations.  A celebration called the Feast of the Epiphany or King’s Day.  Fun Mom had told me that her family was going to celebrate at her mother-in-law’s home Sunday evening.  Given my current, mild obsession with my children’s lack of religion, I was excited to see Fun Mom standing outside our second graders’ classroom door with her Kindergarten son in her arms before pick-up.  I wanted the scoop on this new dimension of Christianity that I apparently missed out on growing up in my Catholic-Episcopalian hybrid home.

“So, Fun Mom, how was last night?”  I asked as I walked up.

“It was great.  The kids loved it.”

Manners Mom was standing nearby so Fun Mom invited her into the conversation by giving her a brief background on what we were talking about.

“So last night…well, my mother in-law hosts this celebration for the Twelfth Day and the kids put their shoes out and she fills them with little gifts and we honor the three wise men and she makes this cake with a Baby Jesus inside and whoever gets the Baby Jesus gets to wear the crown.”  She said it all so enthusiastically, as only Fun Mom can.  And she placed her hand on her Kindergartener’s head indicating that it was he who almost ate Baby Jesus in honor of King’s Day.

“So Baby Jesus was in your piece?” I looked at him, smiling with wide eyes and nodding but feeling just this side of clinically insane as I allowed the seven words to escape my lips.  

So Baby Jesus was in your piece?

He gave me a quick nod and smile and buried his face in Fun Mom’s neck.

I wondered what Manners Mom was thinking but I didn't dare meet eyes with her for fear I'd completely lose it.

The bell rang and the kids began to pour out of the class.  Vince was at my side in no time and soon Nick was, too, both asking if they could stay and play for a while.

We walked down the breezeway and toward the kickball field.  Well, they ran ahead and I walked slowly behind.  My mind was set completely adrift by this whole cake thing.  I was trying to imagine the execution. 

Where do you get the baby?  Is it blessed?  Is it really, literally, a little plastic baby like I am imagining in my mind?  It can’t be.  Like from a doll house?  It can’t be.  And they call it Jesus?  No way.  Do they sell them in bulk in Baby Jesus value packs? How big are they?  What if somebody choked on Baby Jesus?  And died?  Then Baby Jesus would have killed someone... possibly a child.

Fortunately, I was soon deep in conversation with Hot Mom whose sons were also playing on the field and the whole episode was filed in the back of my mind until after homework and dinner and piano practice and reading and brushing and flossing and rinsing and bed time.

Jeff and I had closed our books and turned out the light.  Maybe five full minutes had passed as I was lying there in the dark reviewing my day.

How could anybody, of any faith, at any time, ever decide that miniaturizing their God and baking him in a cake is even remotely copasetic on any level?  And I'm not even a religious person!

I bellowed out loud at the utter ridiculousness of it all.  My laughter scared Jeff who was apparently moments from dream land.

“Jesus Christ, honey!  What’s wrong with you?  I was almost asleep!”

“I’m sorry.  Something funny happened at school today.”

“Tell me about it tomorrow.”

"Fine.  Killjoy."

I can't decide if this last episode will serve to accelerate or postpone my desire to introduce more organized  religion in my children's lives.

P.S. This shit is real.  A quick Google search yielded the below article posted just yesterday regarding the King’s Cake.

Yes, that is Baby Jesus's ass hanging out of that cake.
You best get to genuflecting.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Bad Choices

Today is day 12 of Winter Break.  12 days of family and friends.  Two dishes that seem to always be best served with a glass or two of a Malbec or Cabernet, or a nice blend…or champagne… or prosecco.  My head hurts just thinking about it. 

The last of our scheduled celebrations ended on New Year’s Day.  It was sad to stand in the driveway with Jeff and the boys in the dark and wave good-bye to my best friend from college and her family as they drove away.

“That was fun, honey.”   

“Of course it was.  It’s always a blast with them.”

“It’s over now.”

“I know.  It sucks.”

That night, I woke up at 2:30 in the morning.  As I lay in bed, I clicked through everything I needed to get done this week in my mind.  Everything I had neglected to do since the Friday before Christmas when the first family member (Jeff’s mom) made her descent at LAX.  The client work, the doctor’s appointments, the boys’ activities, writing… exercise…hydrating…eating vegetables that aren’t wrapped in pork products or drenched in hollandaise sauce...

Of course when I finally pulled myself out of bed to start my day at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, I was completely congested and had a splitting headache.  This one not induced by gratuitous alcohol consumption.  The common cold had reared its ugly head.

I pressed on.  The boys attended science and art camp, I worked away at my desk, did laundry, and was early to my 3 p.m. follow-up appointment with my surgeon that afternoon. 

The next day, yesterday, looked about the same.  More writing, a ukulele lesson for the boys following camp, a little time organizing my desk.  

Last night, we booked tickets to the California Science Center for late this afternoon to finally see Endeavor, and the Cleopatra exhibit before it closes on Sunday.

As I closed my book and turned off the light on my bedside table last night, I kept thinking to myself:

Has it happened?  Has it really happened?  Has productivity and a shred of self-restraint actually re-entered our lives after more than a week of chaos and over indulgence?   

Today, I rose early to shower before my quick, 8 a.m. dentist appointment.  The boys joined me and we stopped for donuts on the way home (read: the beginning of the end). 

I noticed a new text message on my phone as we left the donut shop.  On a lark, I had sent a text to our dear, old friends in Pasadena about joining us at the Science Center and grabbing dinner together afterwards while I was booking our tickets last night.  I knew they had family in town and tend to have a very busy schedule in general so I wasn’t optimistic but her text confirmed they were IN! (read: the middle of the end).  

One jelly-donut and one multi-vitamin down, I was at my desk by 9:30, answering a few emails and reworking a messaging document for a client between texts about solidifying plans for the evening.

                M: Welcome to stay for pajama jammy jam (read: sleep-over).  We have nothing tomorrow.

I ignored this message.  It was too early in the morning to admit to myself what was surely going to happen that night.  The conflict began in my mind.

It is a new year.  You are disciplined.  You are productive.  You’ve been that way for at least two days now.  You have had plenty of opportunity to celebrate and indulge.

But you didn’t get to see them at all over break.  You had to cancel your annual Christmas dinner out because of the stomach flu.  You were so looking forward to that dinner.

You can go and just enjoy the Science Center with the kids and have a civilized dinner and come home to your own bed.  You are an adult.  That is what adults do.  You do not have to act like a teenager just because you have known them since you were a teenager.

And that is when my inside voice became my outside text.

L: Right now I say no to sleepover because it is basically a green light for more bad choices.  Realistically, we will be raising our glasses to bad choices at roughly 8 p.m. tonight.
            M: Love it. Will pick up pasta and some yummy wine to seal the deal.

I went downstairs to the kitchen to grab my back-up, second donut (glazed) and a glass of Emergen-C.  (Read: The End.)

There’s always next week.  I told myself as I took the final bite of my glazed donut and sat back down at my desk. 
And that’s the first full week of January.  The kids will be back in school.  Makes more sense to really kick it into gear next week.

Happened to play on Dwight Yoakam Pandora during the above complete disintegration of all self-discipline.  Probably one of the best songs about Bad Choices.