Tuesday, July 8, 2014

My Treasures.

Vince joined me for the evening dog walk Sunday. Nick had joined his dad for the drive to the airport: the conclusion of Nana’s annual summer visit.

Good ol’ Nana. Played some golf, partied pool side, caught some fireworks, hit the beach, and had a few meals out.  Then she hopped on a red eye back to Indiana, went straight to work, and played in a golf event last night.

What I would give to know I’ll be getting after it like Nana does when I’m 62!

Vince held Stitch’s leash until the neighbor kid two doors down asked if he could join us. The neighbor kid wanted to hold Stitch’s leash and Vince obliged him.

How nice of Vince! I thought to myself. Until the first shiny object beckoned Vince from the gutter...

“Mommy, look!”

The neighborhood scavenging had begun.

I looked down.

“Dude, it’s a penny.” I couldn’t even feign enthusiasm. It’s not like he’s three.

“I know but I’m still getting it.” Vince leapt off the sidewalk and grabbed at the grimy, oily street.

“I agree that you should pick up all found money but the penny is face down. That’s bad luck,” I tried to reason.

“I don’t believe in that,” Vince was quick to reply as he scooped up his penny.  In this moment, very clearly his father’s son.

“Suit yourself.”

And so we continued down the sidewalk – a parade of sorts. Butter was in the lead – a completely erratic, seemingly methed-out Grand Marshal – tugging desperately on his leash in his attempt to sniff out whatever the hell he’s always attempting to sniff out. Per usual, Stitch was barely a step behind me, once again demonstrating his preference for me above all other beings. Neighborhood kid was several steps behind Stitch, utilizing the full expanse of the retractable leash. Neighborhood kid was also rambling incessantly, in a display of stream of consciousness reserved exclusively for the elderly, the clinically insane, and the early elementary set.

A few highlights:

1. “My Aunt and Uncle have two birds that had babies. Surely, they must be rich! They are small Macaws!”

2.  “I have $20.32 saved that I’m going to give to my mom and dad to buy the trailer we’re gonna get when my mom sells her old car and my dad sells the wheels he just cleaned up in the garage.”

And my favorite:

3. “You should take Butter to Pet Co. for training. That’s where I took my dog and he can do all kinds of stuff. My guy there can help you.”

Precocious little shit.

Vince trailed a little further behind the neighborhood kid on the sidewalk, dashing into the grass or the street, looking for filthy, useless crap.

“Mom, look!” Vince ran up to me from behind and thrust something white in my face. I thought it was a wad of paper.

“What’s that?” I stopped.  “Butter, heel!  Heel!  HEEL!!!”

Like that’s going to work.

I gave Butter’s leash a tug.

“It’s a shell.  See.  Look!” Vince was very enthusiastic.

I took the small, white object in my hand. Vince was right. It was a shell.  A piece of a shell. To be honest, I think it was one of those small, man-made shells you purchase by the bag at Michael’s or Pottery Barn – the way to beach up your decorative glass vessel without getting sand between your toes. I didn’t have the heart to tell Vince it was a fake.

“That’s cool, honey. Where’d you find that?”

“Uhhh. Back there somewhere.” He casually nodded back over his shoulder as he grabbed the faux shell from my hand and ran ahead.

I watched Vince closely as we all walked along. His eyes darted from left to right, scanning the ground. He’d stop occasionally, his eyes catching on something out of the ordinary. He’d bend over and take a closer look. Sometimes he’d reach down and pick up the object but ultimately reject it.

“Mommy, I hate it when you see a shiny object and it ends up being a piece of tin foil or a candy wrapper.”

“Trust me, honey, we all do.”

Just before we crossed the street to walk up our own driveway, his third and final discovery of the walk was made. He came running up behind me.

“Mommy, look!”

“What is it?”

Vince placed a rusty piece of broken metal in my hand. It actually had some weight to it.

“I don’t know but its metal.”

“It’s kind of heavy.” I had to admit it felt substantial in my hand.

“I know.” He looked into my eyes with his bright eyes and satisfied grin. In Vince's mind, he had just hit pay dirt.

I smiled broadly back at him.


Monday afternoon, when I went to retrieve the mail, I found the penny, the broken shell, and the rusty piece of metal inside the mailbox underneath the day’s mail.  I scooped them up, along with the mail and headed back up the driveway.

“Hey, Vince!” I hollered as I walked in the front door. “Guess what I found in the mailbox?”

“My treasures!” He yelled back from the den. “I put them in there to keep them safe while we played Nerf guns. Nicky, come check them out. I found this piece of metal…”

Vince's treasures.

For my treasures, who turn 9 today. May your every day hold as much promise as that dog walk!

My treasures.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Just when I think there is no possible way her head could be lodged that far up her ass, it somehow nestles itself further still. 

I happened upon this today:

You come across (online comments) about yourself and about your friends, and it’s a very dehumanizing thing. It’s almost like how, in war, you go through this bloody, dehumanizing thing, and then something is defined out of it. My hope is, as we get out of it, we’ll reach the next level of conscience. - Gwyneth Paltrow

20 minutes on Twitter : a six-month tour in Afghanistan...

Totally Tomayto : Tomahto, Gwyn.

You’re out of touch and I’m out of time.

But one more thing!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Serendipity: "fortuitous happenstance" or "pleasant surprise"

I love the word “serendipity”. I love to say the word “serendipitous”. It is my absolute favorite $5 word.

I think it always will be.

As far as I’m concerned, witnessing or rather feeling a moment of serendipity is about as close as we come to real magic here on earth. “Magic”, in turn, is another word I love. But let’s face it, it’s been cheapened by the pink, fairy-princess business and all those Disney Mongers…you know who you are…

But I digress…

On to a moment of serendipity…

It all started back in November, November 30th to be exact, at my sons’ elementary school’s holiday boutique.

I was standing over the display table of a local, trendy, jewelry-artist-come-school-boutique-vendor in our school’s Multi-Purpose Room (MPR). In keeping with the spirit of giving, I was about to order a custom, stamped plate necklace for myself. I was trying to decide what word or phrase I should have stamped on the rectangular, gold plate. Hot Mom was standing next to me.

“Look at this,” I held up a sample piece that the artist had on display. “How about this one?”

#SorryNotSorry,” Hot Mom read the stamped plate hanging from the necklace and giggled a little. “That’s cute.”

“I think it’s funny,” I smiled broadly.

SorryNotSorry…a kinder gentler version of “F-You”. I am sold!

I made up my mind and the local, trendy, jewelry-artist-come-school-boutique-vendor was writing up my order in no time. She handed me my pink invoice.

“Alright,” I turned to Hot Mom. “What do you need?”

“I’m done. I was looking at this bench but Handstand Mom talked me out of it. She said she could find a better one at a flea market or a consignment shop and paint it for a lot cheaper.”

“Of course, she can.”

Freakin’ Handstand Mom can make anything look good…for nothing.

“What else do you need?” Hot Mom asked.

“Well, I wanted to get those lunch boxes for Vince and Nick,” I had a short, check list of items to get through in the MPR.

“The PACK-iTS!?! They are right over here,” Hot Mom walked me over to the vendor stand.  “I love them… I have this one for baseball games and this one for wine and these ones for the boys’ lunches…” Hot Mom was pointing at or picking up almost every sample on display. 

Jesus Christ. Is she getting a cut of these things?

“You know, I’m surprised you didn’t get ‘Self Care’ on that necklace since it’s all you can talk about.” Hot Mom changed the subject back to my previous purchase.

My eyes widened. I made a small yet audible and completely overly dramatic gasp.

“You’re right! How did I not think of that? I have to change my order!”

And so my order was changed to Self Care to capture my current life slogan. The words and concept that my Dearest of Dear Friends (DODF) had introduced to me several months before, at a time when I was feeling a little lost and awfully low:

“Focus on Lizzie,” she told me. “Take care of YOU. Do what is important to YOU. Say ‘NO’ sometimes. Put your needs first sometimes. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Figure out what it is you can do to make you happy. That’s all you can control in life, really. Do some ‘Self Care’.

And I did. You can figure a lot of shit out just by doing Self Care.

Fast-forward to December 29. The season of giving has come and gone and I realize I have received no custom, stamped, Self Care necklace in the mail. It was not meant to be a gift for someone else so I’m not terribly concerned… but I want my freakin’ necklace.


I first contacted the local, trendy, jewelry-artist-come-school-boutique-vendor via her blog, which made me want to buy even more unnecessary objects to adorn myself with but I resisted…though I did make several mental notes!

A few days later, I sent her a text:

Hi XXX! Hope you had a good holiday. Checking in on the status of my stamped ‘Self Care’ necklace that I ordered at the school boutique. Thanks. Liz Pieri

To which she replied:

It’s shipping this week. I had to remake all of your (school’s) orders the ups store I was shipping from was stealing my packages.

I chose to overlook the run-on sentence and feel sorry for XXX.

I responded:

What a nightmare! I hope you are compensated and not too discouraged. Looking forward to receiving. Happy New Year!

Fast-forward to January 10.

My DODF was bracing for impact. Something she and her husband had been wanting and working for, for years and years, seemed to be slipping further from their reach.

I went to my mailbox and there, among the bills and countless solicitations, was my necklace. Back inside the house, I dropped the stack of mail on the kitchen counter. I excitedly ripped open the package and stared at the necklace for a while.

This isn’t your necklace. It never was.

DODF sent me this text, upon receipt of her necklace in the mail:

U just have no idea how lucky I feel to have u. Thk u.

And to DODF, I say, BACK ATCHA!

Alas, I do so love serendipity. 

And that Self Care shit works!!!

And if you are a big, fat nerd like me, curious about the origin of the word serendipity, get your Wiki on here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serendipity

DODF and me, circa '03. We date back to '89. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Reckless Driving

You are going over 85. You are going to get a ticket.  Then you’ll be REALLY late. You need to slow down. There could be a cop anywhere.

I was approaching an overpass.

They always tuck themselves away under these stupid things..like I don’t know their game by now.

I looked to my right, carefully examining the area beneath and around the overpass.

All clear.

It’s 8:31. You could make it by 9. If you are going to be a few minutes late, you can just call the office. They were very nice about it last time.

I lifted my right foot just slightly off the gas pedal to slow my car to 80, my standard, open-ish highway cruising speed.  I suddenly flashed back to the worst in the series of speeding tickets and assorted moving violations I earned in my early twenties.


“Miss, do you have any idea how fast you were going?”  The California Highway Patrol officer addressed me from my grandmother’s Oldsmobile’s passenger side door. 

To say that my grandma and I rolled deep in her beige, 1982, Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera featuring beige, vinyl interior; cassette tape deck; and white wall tires was a gross understatement.  Especially when you consider that we rolled together in the early 90’s, about a decade after the car rolled off General Motor’s assembly line.

My grandma was in her early 80’s then, and had lost her driver’s license, among other things, to dementia. 

“It couldn’t have been that fast,” I was quick to respond to the officer.

In hindsight, I’m sure these words sounded more like: “I have absolutely zero idea.”  I know that’s what my 20 year-old self was thinking.  My 20 year-old self that was now late for my Literary Theory class which I currently hated just slightly less than the California Highway Patrol.

“License and registration, please.”

I reached for my purse and pulled out my wallet.  I carefully pulled out MY driver’s license as opposed to Anne Darcangelo’s: my best friend’s older sister’s best friend who was 22 at the time. While she was a brunette and several inches shorter than me, Anne’s ID somehow did the trick…until that bar in Newport Beach…but that’s a story for a different time… that involved a different law enforcement officer. 

“I’m on my way to class.  I just dropped off my grandma,” I told the cop as I handed over the goods. He took them back to his motorcycle, parked behind me on the side of the freeway.

It probably sounded like a load of shit to the cop but it wasn’t. That was my Thursday routine then: drive out to my grandma’s in Pasadena, take her down to have her hair washed and set, then take her to the grocery store to do her weekly shopping. It was my grandma’s one outing during the week. On Sundays, my dad would come take her to church and out to lunch, and maybe to run a quick errand.

Some days, I couldn’t wait to drop her off. I was too busy. I wanted to get back to school. I had things to do. In reality, some days I just couldn’t bear walking behind her down the aisles of the grocery store. She’d stop, over and over again; look down at the list in her hand; look further down at the contents of her cart; then look at the grocery shelf before her. She was not quite sure how to put all the pieces together. I knew this was supposed to be “her time” but I didn’t always have the patience.

I regret to say that there were days when I would go to the grocery store without my grandma. I would drop her off at the salon, and go take care of her shopping before I returned to the salon to pick her up.

I would hold the door open for her as she slowly stepped into the car. Then, I’d close the door behind her and be in the driver’s seat, buckled up with the car started before she was done fastening her seat belt. She’d reach into her purse, perched on her lap.

“Ok, I have my list for the market in here somewhere,” she would start to dig around as I pulled away from the curb.

“No, Grandma.  Not today.  I already went to the market for you.”

“You did?”  She would turn to me with a look of confusion and disappointment.

“Yes, Grandma,” I would keep my eyes fixed on the road in front of me.

Then, finally: “Alright. You have things to do.” she’d say. “Thank you.” 

She would lower her head a little and hang on to her purse a little tighter.

“Your hair looks nice. It will look nice for church.” That was my attempt at softening the blow of cutting her afternoon short.

“Thank you.” Now her eyes were fixed on the road in front of her.

How I sometimes rushed through that period with her. I eventually moved in with her but we had to put her in her first nursing home that same year. The year her dementia became so bad that one afternoon, she walked out her front door of 25 years, down her drive-way into her cul-de-sac and couldn’t remember which home was her own. I was at class. One of the neighbors called my father.

The officer reappeared at my passenger side window.

“Miss, you were going 92.”

“No, way.” My 20 year-old self didn’t miss a beat.  My grandma’s Oldsmobile may have been in mint condition but in my mind, there was absolutely no way I opened that engine up to 92 miles per hour. 

“Miss, I have it on my radar. Do you want to see it?”

I threw up in my 20 year-old mouth.

“No,” I managed.  “That’s ok, officer.” I knew then I had screwed myself. The only question was how royally.

“Miss, anything over 20 miles per hour over the speed limit is considered Reckless Driving. Do you know what that means?”

“Um.” I stopped breathing.

“It’s extremely unsafe and there can be severe penalties.” He answered his question for me.

He paused and watched my face contort in response to my upper intestines swallowing up my lower intestines or whatever it was that was now happening to my digestive tract upon receipt of this final blow. 

How will I ever explain this away to my parents?

“I’ve written you up at 82,” he continued, as he handed me my ticket along with my license. “You need to slow down. It doesn’t matter where you think you’re going, you aren’t going to make it alive driving that fast.”

“Yes, officer.  Thank you, officer.  I’m sorry, officer. Thank you, officer.”

I sat there motionless in the driver’s seat for several seconds, staring at the “82” on the ticket. 


My 41 year-old self looked at the clock.


I picked up my iPhone, scrolled through the previous day’s “recent calls”, and soon pressed the screen.

“Good morning. Dr. Hung’s office. This is Lisa.”

“Hi, Lisa. This is Liz Pieri. How are you?”

“I’m good, Liz. How are you?”

“I’m late. I’m sorry. I didn’t give myself enough time.”

“That’s ok. How late do you think you’ll be?”

I quickly made a generous estimate.

“No more than 10 minutes late.”

“I’ll go ahead and check you in. We’ll be here when you get here. Drive safely.”

“Thank you.”

My 41 year-old self placed my iPhone in the cup holder and inhaled and exhaled deeply, settling into the driver's seat.

They’ll be there when I get there.

And I will get there.

Found an image of grandma's ride in baby blue.
I should have asked to see that radar gun. 92 miles per hour? No freakin' way!

While less pretty, I found my "CHiPs" almost as intimidating as these two.
Am I looking at a 28" waistline?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

“I don’t know if Paul and Ringo are still friends!”

“Mommy, why did John’s hair get weird and his nose get bigger?”

“I think maybe he just grew his hair long and it made his nose look bigger,” I called back from my post over the kitchen sink.

“It looks like he got bad skin. Why did he get bad skin?” Nick continued from the couch as he flipped through the Beatles coffee table book he checked out from the library days before.

“I don’t know. It’s probably from drugs and not taking care of himself,” I grabbed my rubber gloves from under the sink and prepared for the scrubbing of the skillet.

Then, from Vince: “That’s why George and John died first; they didn’t take care of themselves.”  While not the mega-fan Nick is, Vince had to lay down his own Beatles knowledge.

“Well, actually no,” I paused briefly to wonder to myself why I had chosen to re-insert myself into this relentless questioning. I mean delightful, post-dinner conversation with the true lights of my life: my young sons.

“John got shot and George got cancer,” I continued.

“Yeah, Vince.” Nick was quite pleased that his brother had been corrected. "I knew that."

Yes, I believe that discussion took place on Christmas. This, now months-long Beatles obsession of Nick's seems to somehow be gaining momentum.   

I rinsed the skillet and leaned it against the drying rack and turned to the other side of the sink to assess the remaining damages, then:

“Mommy, who’s older Paul or Ringo?”

“I don’t know, Nick. Ringo looks older but Paul looks like he’s had work done.”

“What do you mean ‘work done’?”

What are you doing? One word answers. Make up shit.  Lie.  It’s the freakin’ Beatles and they’re 8. It will pass.  It doesn’t matter.

I sighed an audible sigh of annoyance, “I… just… it’s… to make him look younger.  You can have surgery and do stuff to make your face look younger.”

“Well, it worked,” Nick responded, enthusiastically, somehow oblivious to my mounting frustration. “He almost looks exactly the same. Mommy, come look at this.”

“Honey. I am doing the dishes.” I hadn’t yet raised my voice but my tone was one of complete annoyance.

“Vince, look at this.” Nick didn’t break stride, motioning for his brother to join him on the couch, then:

“Mommy, are Paul and Ringo still friends?”

You have got to be kidding me!

“I don’t know.  I don’t know, honey.  I don’t know!  I don’t know every single thing about the Beatles.  Google it on your iPad!”

“I’m on technology restriction.”

Paul Then


Paul Now

Dear Paul McCartney’s Plastic Surgeon,

Well done.

Yours truly,
Nick and Vince Pieri