Thursday, February 25, 2010

I want SPRING (or do I?)!

We’re all sick and tired of winter. Of bitter cold, dry, cracking skin, chapped lips and dirty snow. Everyone’s talking about Spring: “can’t wait for Spring,” “Hurry up Spring,” “When the HELL is Spring going to get here?”…

Here’s the good news and the bad news: Spring, my friends, is just around the corner. “Ah, Thank Goodness!” you say. You picture blooming shoots of color, calm breezes, tree limbs stretched out with tiny fingers of green. Remember, though, that the old adage holds true: “In like a lion, out like a lamb.”

By mid-April, we’ll all by moaning and groaning about wicked spring storms, flash floods, wet grass that is beginning to grow, and needing to be cut. Oh, and don’t forget that fine film of cesspool-green on every window and piece of outdoor patio furniture that will have your eyes watering and your nose running just like it’s doing right now. THEN we’ll be lamenting the itchy, wet spring and begging for Summer!

Oh, sweet summer, with your ripe, fresh fruit, fat rays of sunshine, and leafy trees. Walks in the park, baseball games, cool nights on the patio with white wine spritzers. All fine and good, until that St. Louis heat becomes absolutely oppressive, the grass and hedges need constant trimming, the air conditioner just can’t keep up with Mother Nature, and beads of sweat roll down the sides of your face on your way to the mailbox. “Oh,” you’ll cry, “C’mon Fall! I’m tired of this misery!”

And Fall will come, with all of it’s glorious colors like a brand new 64-pack of Crayola’s, and with it, cooler temps, comfortable nights, oh, and more sneezing and coughing as the leaves turn and fall. Your back will cry out for an end to that season as well, while you’re racking up pile after pile of leaves.

“Where is winter, already?” you’ll ask. Well, take a look, my friends, it’s right here!

Enjoy every day, every season, everything Mother Nature throws at you, because believe it or not, it won’t last forever!

(Author’s note: I want Spring badly, and I promise not to complain when my allergies flare, or the grass needs cutting. I promise! I just needed something to write about…)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

What if...

If you had $5,000 in your pocket and a week all to yourself…where would you go? What would you do? My cousin, Maren, is leaving this Wednesday for a semester in Peru. How wonderful. At 21, she has already spent a summer in Spain, and flown to Paris on a whim to visit her boyfriend. Boy, when I was 21…well, I digress. Let’s not go there, it’s rather depressing. Back to my first question: What would you do?

I’d like to imagine that I would hop a flight to Paris with just an oversized-suitcase and my journal tucked under my arm. I’d stroll the city and drink creamy coffee at street-side cafés, writing furiously to keep up with the magical fiction in my head. And every few chapters, I’d pen non-fictional accounts of lazy days and romantic nights.

Or maybe I’d grab a flight to Ireland, same trusty journal, and not-so-trusty golf clubs tagging along. I’d drive the wrong side of the road along hills of green, the wind whipping my hair through the little foreign car’s window. I’d play 18 holes in the cloudy light of day (scoring no higher than par) and find a quiet corner of a raucous pub In which to write a fantastic screen play while I drink black and tans and flirt with an Irish musician playing guitar, who also happens to be the owner of the pub (this one, and many others across the globe).

Or, maybe I’d wake up in the morning, enjoy a quiet cup of coffee, pack my suitcase and drive to the airport, where I’d pick a flight to LaGuardia, not caring how long I had to wait, because I have Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s latest novel in my purse. Each New York morning, I’d hop on the subway and head uptown, where I’d spend the first few hours of my day in one of the many writer’s cafés, clicking away on my laptop, trying not to stare at the best-selling authors around me. In the afternoons, I’d walk the streets, not leisurely, like in Paris, but with long, purposeful strides, the city wind whipping the scarf tossed casually around my neck. I’d duck inside open shops and buy fantastic outfits at designer boutiques. I’d spend my evenings on Broadway and drink Apple Martinis at a swanky bar, lit by the energy of Times Square.

If I had $5,000 in my pocket, I’d drive straight to the bank. I’d breathe a little easier, stand a little taller, and worry a little less. I’d pay a year’s worth of car insurance, get the carpets professionally cleaned and maybe, just maybe, buy a new flat screen for the family room. Then, and only then, would I log onto and check out flights… to Disney World. I am a mom, after all. But I can dream, can’t I?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What have you got to lose?

I've wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember.

I was born in Chicago. When I was about six years old, my father was transferred to St. Louis. We used to go back to Chicago a few times a year, and sometimes made it downtown for a day. Each time, I’d stand in front of the Chicago Tribune building on N. Michigan Avenue and look up, up, up. I'd imagine myself rushing inside, high-heels clicking, briefcase swinging in my left hand (no laptops even in my dreams back then).

In the fourth grade I joined the girl scouts, and at the end of that year, our troop leader presented each of us girls with a notebook, covered in yellow fabric with white daises. She'd cross-stitched our names front and center. I wrote my first short story within those pages (and yes, I still have that notebook, what a trip!)

As a senior in high school, I applied to Mizzou, dreaming of Journalism school. I got in without a problem, but changed my mind at the last minute, and didn't go. Fear held me back. What if I was no good? What if I couldn't do it? What if, what if...

Fear held me back from my dreams, until I was old enough to realize that I had no reason to be afraid. Until a confidence that sometimes only comes with age outweighed the fear. What did you dream of when you were 5? Or 18? Or yesterday, for that matter? Don’t let fear hold you back. What have you got to lose?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Groundhog, Schmoundog

I'm seriously considering a boycott of winter. I'm tired of big, bulky sweaters, strangling turtlenecks, thick socks - and worst of all, skin as dry as the logs crackling in the fireplace.

I'm a Marketing Agency Account Manager by trade. In my industry, it used to be that we would bring the consumers to the products. With the advent of "experiential marketing" and all of its related forms, the trend became bringing the product to the consumers. So, I've decided to take that approach with Spring. Obviously, warmer weather is not coming to us, so... let's bring ourselves to Spring.

After two cups of steaming hot coffee to get me warmed up, I marched up to my bedroom and threw open the closet doors. Groundhog be damned! I Moved the wool sweater to the top shelf, folded the turtlenecks and tucked them in the corner, slid my boots to the back of the closet.

Hello my old friend, peep-toe heels! Oh, I remember that darling little short sleeve number I bought last June. And the t-shirts! I love my t-shirts! I reorganized, resorted and made a pile of winter clothes I hadn't worn all season to take to the second-hand store. Maybe I'd trade them in for a summery top or skirt.

Then I looked out the window. Snow. I suppose it is still February. I threw on my jeans and furry boots and drove to the second-hand store.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Being Mom: What a Difference A Day Makes

Last night: Raced home, changed clothes, worked out, raced home, cooked dinner, set table, broke up two fights between my sons, did two loads of laundry, raced to store with oldest son to pick up his new glasses, raced home, watched American Idol sans commercials and in fast forward (thanks to DVR), gave Ella a bath, did the dishes, had an argument with Jack (my middle child) that escalated until we were both in tears, tucked in the oldest and youngest, went to talk to Jack only to find him sound asleep, crawled into his bed, hugged him tight and woke him up to tell him how much I love him. Finally went to sleep.

Tonight: My kids are with their dad and I wish I would have slowed down. I wish I would have closed my mouth and opened my arms. I wish I would have remembered that the laundry and the dishes would still be there tomorrow. I wish I would have enjoyed bath time, read a little slower, cuddled a little longer.

Some parenting days are more stressful than others. Sometimes I say "no" when I should have said "yes," and sometimes I say "yes" when I should have said "no." Sometimes I screw up, and make mistakes and wish for a "do-over." But, always, always, I love my kids. And I hope they know that.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Unfortunately...and perfect timing

I have had it with emails, texts, phone calls, conversations that begin with "unfortunately" - this is never a good way to start. Geez, don't these people know how to "sandwich" the bad news? You know, all those Creative Writing courses in college, critique groups, heck even grade school teachers knew enough to teach this one; nice comment, bad news, nice comment. I did get one of these emails, but somehow, the word unfortunately (sandwiched as it was) still stung.

After a night of tossing and turning and worrying about bills, work, house repairs, funny car noises, big decisions for my daughter, and how to help my boys through each of their current struggles, I was driving through the sloshy wet snow to drop my four year-old off at school this morning. I was angry with drivers who refused to use turn signals, annoyed with gawkers who insisted on slowing down to get a closer look at a stalled car and just plain frustrated with all the "unfortunately's I've received lately. As I was driving, my daughter said to me from the back seat, "Mama, guess what I'm thinking?" Not in the mood for the game, I said "I don't know, honey. What?"
"I'm thinking about how much I love you. Is that what you're thinking, too?"
"Absolutely, baby. Absolutely."

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

This week has not gotten off to the best start. Monday morning, we had a client coming into the office, so naturally, we were all looking our professional best and the office was sparkling clean. I thought it would be nice to start a pot of coffee, so with high spirits I grabbed a filter from the cabinet, counted out 12 scoops of coffee grounds, slid the filter into the coffee maker, turned on the burner, pressed the start button and walked back to my office, heels clicking, to check my emails and start my work day.

Five minutes later, a heard a cry of surprise, followed by a groan. I jumped out of my seat, and before I even made it down the hallway, I realized what I'd done. "Oh my God! I forgot the coffee pot!" Hot coffee was everywhere. Dripping down the sides of the wire shelving, running down the sides of the microwave, and pooled all over the kitchen floor. Three of us tiptoed around the mess, wiping and mopping, trying not to ruin our clothing, and make the kitchen presentable for the client who was on his way.

"Boy, when you do it, you do it all the way, huh?" a coworker joked. Apparently so.

I'm grateful for the Tide Pen that magically erased the coffee stains on the shoulder of my boss's dress shirt.

Tuesday I overslept, got to work with one minute to spare, and waited patiently for someone else to make the coffee.

Here's hoping Wednesday is disaster free!