Parenting Travel

Proof of Life for Luke

I have the most amazing dog, Luke. People actually say to me, “If you don’t want your dog anymore, I’ll take him.” Aside from wondering what about me looks like I might be the kind of person who doesn’t want her dog anymore, I try and recognize that it’s a compliment to Luke, rather than an insult directed at me.

I’m heading off on vacation this week and am always in the quandary of what to do with Luke. The last time I left him at Doggy Day Care, he ate his thigh and they didn’t take care of it, and when I got back we ended up in big doggy do do. My sister has three dogs, one of which she rescued from New Orleans. That dog doesn’t like people (any wonder?), but supposedly is fine with new dogs.

I asked her if she would take Luke and she was thrilled. I do have to confess that she has a dog of mine from many years ago, Emma. Emma is a Sheltie, and she needs to herd. She used to bark and bark around us until we all stood in a clump in the middle of the room. This became very irritating; the truth is we didn’t like Emma. I brought a Dog Psychologist in (Yes, I’m aware that means I have issues, not the friggin’ dog) who said that Emma’s only problem was that she thought her name was Emma No, not Emma. We got the picture.

We woke up one morning and there was a note on the kitchen counter which read, “I have gone to live with Aunt Leslie because she likes me and you don’t. Love, Emma No” We were all fine with that. While the truth hurts, looking it in the eye can save you.

So, I put Luke in the car yesterday to head to my sisters. He was all excited, looking out the window, panting. The guilt started. He’s fifteen years old, deaf and maybe it’s too much to ask him to hang with three other dogs. What if my sister gets impatient with him? What if her dogs gang up on him and she takes their side?  I swear, I was a mess. I hate this thing called guilt.

We get there and he’s already in heaven. Her yard is much larger than mine and it’s like Fort Knox. The gate has three entry locks, and there is no way he’s getting out. His tail is wagging away, and I’m feeling much better.

“Did you bring his dog food?”

“No, I figured you have three dogs. Can’t he eat what they eat?”

“They each eat their own food based on their personal needs. Are you kidding me? You didn’t bring him any food? Emma eats Eukanuba for joint health, and this one eats such and such.” I’m starting to get anxious which is very par for the course when I’m with family.

“Well, no, I didn’t. When I used to drop Sarah off at a friend’s house for a sleep over, she ate what they were eating. I figured Luke could do the same thing.”

“Well, he can’t. You need to come back with his food before you leave.”

I start to feel like the worst dog owner in the land. No wonder people ask me if I want to give up my dog. I’m driving home thinking it’s best to give Luke to her permanently. Or, maybe I should review those that have asked for him to see what’s the best fit. He looked so happy running around her large yard. I start to get defensive and look for something else to focus on.

Something she said started to gnaw (get it, gnaw?) at me. “I told my friend Barbara that if anything ever happened to Luke while he is here, I would have to leave town.” I call her on my cell.

“Would you mind sending me a proof of life picture every day while I’m gone, so I know Lukie is ok?”


“You know, take a picture of him with the front page of that day’s The New York Times – or maybe in your case the NY Post – in front of him? Just so I know he is ok.”

“You are sick, very very sick.” And, she hangs up on me.

A few hours later, her niece Saneya calls and leaves the following voice mail.

“Luke is fine and he is having a lot of fun here. He was with me by the pool, and now he is at the Vineyard and everyone is coming over and saying he is very cute and what kind of dog is he. Call us right away.”

Call right away? What does that mean. I call back and everything is supposedly fine. But, how am I really supposed to know?

I am leaving tomorrow on my vacation, which I’m very much looking forward to. I do want to relax and not worry about anything, which is certainly doable. Lukie is fine, I’ll bring presents for everyone, and I’m grateful to my sister for rescuing her dog from New Orleans and me from yet another opportunity for craziness. Do I wish she’s send the proof of life? Yep, but I’ll get over it.

Health Parenting Personal Essays Women

Special Brownies

You might not believe this story, but I swear every word is true.

I had a ‘new’ friend I met at work (I owned a party rental company and she is one of the foremost event planners in the land) who called and suggested we go to the movies. I love movies. Where else can you stock up on bad things to eat, sit in the dark eating them while watching someone other than you fall apart on the screen? I love movies. 

We met at the theatre and she sat down as the lights dimmed and said, “I brought brownies. Do you like brownies? I put something special in them.” I like brownies almost as much as I like movies. And, something special in them? I’m thinking chocolate chips. Please don’t judge me.

We sit back and she hands me a brownie as the movie starts to unfold. Fifteen minutes later, I remember thinking, “That is the most delicious brownie I’ve ever had, and this movie is going to win every academy award in the world. And, I really think my new friend is going to be a girlfriend for life. She is fabulous. What a great night.” Half way through, I thought to myself, “I gotta have me another one of those brownies.” I will say that I knew they had pot in them by then, but I swear I did not know it when she gave it to me. She would tell you if she were here that I would have to be one stupid chick not to have gotten her point about the brownies when she offered them to me, but I still contend I’m smart as a whip.

A little background here. I had gone to my step sister and brother in law’s house for Thanksgiving and met someone who was singing the praises of Concerta. He believed he had ADD and after spending some time with me at the holiday, he thought I should take the medication too. Thinking back now, I should have realized that maybe it was just the holidays that made me appear to need ADD medication, but then again, I am always all over the place. Anyway, I was on the medication and feeling very focused. It’s great stuff.

So, we finish the fabulous movie, lights go up, and I realize I am one stoned sista. We head for dinner and a restaurant nearby, and I order something or other and my diet coke. A little later, I feel my heart start to race. I’m 56 years old, very single, and my heart hasn’t raced in a long while. Lilly’s talking to me, and I am starting to panic. The food comes, she’s talking away, stoned out of her mind, and I start to try and figure out just how fast my heart is racing. Then my chest starts to hurt. I don’t know this person that well, it’s only our second ‘new friend date,’ but I look at her and think to myself, “I have to say something or I’m going to die here and my daughter will think I was a stoner and she never really knew who I was at all. She will never trust anyone in her life again. She will grow up alone without her beloved (exaggeration for sure, but you know what being stoned does to perspective) mother gone and no one to light her way.” 

I look earnestly across the table and say in my most calm voice, “Lilly, you have to dial 911 right now. I’m having a heart attack.”

She stops dead in mid sentence. “Are you kidding me?”

“No, dial 911.”

She grabs the waiter walking by without a moment’s hesitation, looks him right in the eye and says, “Go call 911 right now, my friend is having a heart attack.” He looks at me, and she says, “Now!”

She comes over to my side of the table and starts talking calmly to me and my heart is racing faster and faster, and I know I’m going to die. The policeman arrives just as the ambulance driver is putting me on the gurney. My friend is telling the EMT guy what happened and the officer walks over. Lilly looks at the officer and says in her most, “I’m a planner and know how to organize all events” voice and says, “Officer, could you step over there for a moment? My friend here needs a minute alone with her EMT.” I’m watching this thinking, “She is one good planner.” He’s looking at her thinking, “She is one stoned chick.”

He says, “No.”

The EMT, who gets it for sure, looks at me and says, “Are you taking anything other than brownies?”

“Yes, Concerta for my quick and brilliant unfocused mind.”

They start to move me out and Lilly is still in planning mode, “Clear this aisle please,” she says clearly. “Bride is coming through.” I really think she said that. She says she didn’t. 

We get into the ambulance and I can hear them talking to the mothership on the radio, “Heart rate 199 and rising. We can’t get a vein for the IV.” The dispatcher says, “Just go now. Don’t keep trying. Head to Southampton Hospital.” I realize this is no joke.

I look at the EMT lady and say, “Am I having a heart attack?”

She puts her hand on my arm and says, “You are going to be fine.”

I grab her shirt collar and say, “Listen, don’t f*^&k with me. Am I having a heart attack?”

“I think so.”

“Well please tell my daughter that I loved her and that I don’t use pot.” She just looks at me.

By the time we get to the hospital my heart beat per minute is no longer on the rise, and it’s clear the danger has passed. We go right in to the check in place and a lady is there to take my information. By now, Lilly and I are laughing. A lot.


“Christine Pot Head.” He he he.

“When was your last period?”


We crack up, really loud. The information taker is laughing too and a doctor sticks his head in to see why we are all laughing. My business partner who is waiting in the waiting room said later he could hear us laughing all the way out there. Lilly called him from the ambulance. She didn’t know who else to call and planners call people when they are stoned in an ambulance with a new friend they don’t know very well.

An hour later, I’m in an examining room feeling foolishly fine, and the doctor comes in for his final review.

“We see this kind of reaction to pot and Concerta a lot, although never in someone as old as you.” 

We burst into laughter again, and he is laughing too. I’m such an ass, and he has to point it out to me. 

It’s a few years past this near death experience. I’m off Concerta and back to my old lovable ADD self. I haven’t had pot since then, and we have seen many a movie together and laugh a lot about our night at the hospital. 

Usually I think my missives on this blog have a point. This one does not. Enjoy this fabulous Sunday.

Health Parenting

My Memory Saga Continues

Because I’m sure you read my blog every day and carry around the finer points I strive so hard to present, you might recall that I stopped drinking diet coke. Well, I lied. I didn’t actually mean to lie, I meant every word at the time I wrote it. My friend, Russell had lunch with me a few days after the “I’m getting rid of Diet Coke and the aspartame debacle that is taking away my memory post,” and he pointed at me and screamed, “You liar, you are drinking Diet Coke!” while starring at the Diet Coke bottle on the table next to my plate. There was no denying the truth. 

Anyway, the point is that I am drinking Diet Coke (although it is not in my house), and thus my memory is in jeopardy again. As a review, Diet Coke has aspartame. Aspartame takes away your memory. I know. I know.

But what I decided is that I will make it up on the other end. I subscribe to, a website that has prominent women writing blogs about this and that. It’s hard to take it seriously with a name like wow wow wow, but Freesia Lane was already taken so I can’t blame them. Actually, as a side note, I’d love my blog to be on it, but nobody knows my name and when no one knows your name, they really don’t invite you to be on a blog where everyone on it is a name everyone knows.

SO, to make this long introduction finally over, I recently received from wow wow wow an email with a brain enhancing game link.  Here is how they introduce it. 

Fit Brains is a fun and engaging platform of brain fitness games and tools that let you exercise your brain in a fun way while keeping track of your progress. These games and activities were developed by Dr. Paul Nussbaum, award-winning neuroscientist.

Oh my God, I’m in heaven. The words fitness and exercise all in a sentence that you can do sitting down. I start to rattle off the calories for sitting there doing brain fitness games without physical effort or sweat. No need for an iPod to pretend you are somewhere else. I’m there. I stoked. I’m stupid.

I do the first set of brain teasers and it says, “Congratulations, you had 4 out of 10 wrong for a 60% score.” Last I heard, that’s a D-and while I graduated high school with a 1.6 average (no joke, I was busy at the time with social studies), I certainly never felt like a D student until now. And, I hate it when people congratulate you for a loser result. It’s so 2000. Parents saying “Great job honey”, as the uncoordinated kid kicks the soccer ball into their own goal post for a point for the other side. No wonder the world is confused.

Define fun. I think fun is when you can do games like this and feel good about yourself. You smile and say, “Wow, wow, wow, I am as smart as my sixth grade report card said. Finally a measuring stick that proves it.” Fun is when you don’t start sweating in 60 degree (who said there is global warming) weather because all you can do is look at the little clock ticking away and you can’t figure out a four letter word with the four letters they provide in under ten minutes. 

The timing thing really sets me back. You can pause the timer which I can only assume is for if the phone rings or you need to use the ladies room. I, on the other hand, pause it to figure out the words without running out of time. Great. Now I’m a liar and a cheat, all in the interest of making my brain stronger.

And lastly, not for nothing, why would you have some really smart neuroscientist person design games for the masses like me? Who’s the dumb one? 

There is another side sadness this effort taught me. I love Lock in Those Lyrics on TV. If you haven’t seen it, the contestant stands up and sings a song from the past, the words stop and you have to fill in the blanks. While I can’t sing and realize it’s somewhat of a stumbling block, I have truly believed that I could go on and win. I do it in my living room a lot on Friday nights. It never occurred to me that I would buckle under pressure of time and people watching. I have seen now that when that stupid clock watches in the brain game, I am a wreck, so imagine a few million people and my terrible voice. Good bye aspirations for greatest on Lock in Those Lyrics. I have removed it from TIVO.

The long and the short of it is I now face another dilemma. Give up Diet Coke to not lose brain cells? Spend twenty hours a day exercising my mind to try and get back the cells I’m losing whilst drinking diet coke while playing the games? 

You know, trying to improve yourself and overcome your shortcomings is not easy. I work hard at it, and despite these minor setbacks will continue to do so.

Books Parenting Politics Women

Book Review: Resilience by Elizabeth Edwards

I saw the Oprah Segment with Elizabeth Edwards in their home in Chapel Hill about her new book, Resilience, and sat mesmerized throughout the entire thing. Friends had it on their discussion list all through the weekend. I downloaded the book to my Kindle (have I mentioned how much I love my Kindle? Such instant gratification.) and read it Friday night.

I always get off track, and this book review is no exception. Can we first discuss the Edward’s house where Oprah’s interview took place? I thought John Edwards was all about environmental sanity. Before we get to the book, you have to look at their prideful presentation of their 28,000 square foot home on 100 acres for four people? Are you kidding me? 28,000 square feet including a full gymnasium? How much does that cost to heat John and Elizabeth?

“Our generation must be the one that says, ‘we must halt global warming,'” Edwards has said. “If we don’t act now, it will be too late. Our generation must be the one that says ‘yes’ to alternative, renewable fuels and ends forever our dependence on foreign oil. Our generation must be the one that accepts responsibility for conserving natural resources and demands the tools to do it. And our generation must be the one that builds the New Energy Economy. It won’t be easy, but it is time to ask the American people to be patriotic about something other than war.”

Ok, enough. But, I’m so glad he didn’t get the nomination.

I’m a mom, and yesterday was Mother’s Day. I read the book cover to cover, Elizabeth, (or really electronic page to electronic page) and can only ask what is your point? Did you really need to put the kids through this media blitz at this time so you could present a diversionary explosion to cover up a simple fact? John slept (for quite awhile) with another woman and that’s the end of that. The child looks just like him and you look like an ass when you say you have no idea if it’s his and it has no matter to you either way.

Supposedly, 60 percent of men cheat in a marriage. Granted, they aren’t doing it while on the campaign trail in 2008 when privacy isn’t even a word anymore, but that speaks more to the fact that John ain’t as smart as he sometimes appeared (remember that great line he had in one of the debates about Obama and Hillary – why do we always call Obama by his last name and Hillary by her first? – about being caught between the two of them?) Or, he’s more arrogant than most.

Her prose flows. (So does that sentence.) She can put a sentence together and tell a story.  My favorite is when she and her sister were walking to church. Her sister, playing with two dimes in her hand – one her allowance and the other the offering – lost one dime down a drain. She remarked, “Well there goes God’s dime.”

She talks about her feelings about her son’s death and those are amazing. With lines like, “Death doesn’t have the same impact after you have buried a child,” make you think about how something feels that you hope you never experience.

But when it comes to John, she’s all about the other woman. Why do we do that girls? Why do we always look at the other woman instead of the commitment made by our partners and the fact that they clearly didn’t mean it? She talks about how Rielle Hunter (yes, Elizabeth, she has a name) was waiting for John outside the hotel and came on with the line, “You’re so hot.” Please tell me you learned more in law school than to believe such an explanation by John. “He has no idea why he responded?” Please stop insulting my intelligence – and yours.

That said, there are points that she uses in her bid to forgive and move on that make sense in living our own lives. She talks about how John has been many things in their marriage; a great father, an attentive husband, a good provider. She says she doesn’t want to define their entire marriage by this one terible act. (Not sure it was one act, Elizabeth, but we get the point.) She’s right, why must we define those that disappoint us by the worst of what they bring to us rather than the best?

You cannot read this book and not think of Hillary. I did not support Hillary in her bid for the Presidency partly because of the Clinton history of lies and the bodies lying in the puddles created by them. But, I give Hillary kudos for focusing her life on actions in areas that matter to her rather than so much self reflection of the injustices of what happened to her. Both Hillary and Elizabeth are strong, mother figures to their childish, weak husbands whose boy-like charms do so well in politics. The parallel ends there.

I wish that Elizabeth left all of us out of her intimate life as Hillary has done. Elizabeth’s strength is in her brain and her toughness. She did so well when she spoke of poverty and their familial partnership desire to change it. I wish she had left her children some semblance of privacy at this very difficult time. Dying too early can’t be easy, and I try and give her that, but the book really serves to manipulate John into a lifetime of shame and guilt publicly, and you could see by the set in his jaw during his time with Oprah that he is paying his penance like the man he pretends to be but clearly isn’t.

Parenting Women

The Trollop: Or Teenage Boys Grow Up

Being the mother of a daughter, I have envied my friends who have sons. “They will always love you,” I tell my buddies. “A son loves his mother no matter how many shrinks he sees. Not true of daughters.”

My friend Caroline has the perfect seventeen-year-old son. Aside from the fact that he has eyes with lashes longer than my sixth grade jump rope, he is nice and actually enjoys going places with his parents. They take him skiing, to the country on weekends, and even out to dinner during the week. He is perfect.

Caroline called me early yesterday.

“Something’s up, something big. A trollop called him twice this afternoon, and now he just rushed out of here with his roller blades.”

“Well, call me as soon as you know anything, but I’m sure she’s a slut.”

I received the following text in the afternoon. I think she took to her bed and couldn’t talk on the phone. It reads.

“David and I went for a ride in the car and saw him with her in the Park. She has perky breasts and long brown hair. What do I do now?”

My response was immediate.

“There is nothing you can do. Life as you have known it is over. He’s not going to want to want to go skiing anymore. He’s going to ask to stay home and you can’t let him or you will be grandparents before he graduates high school. Think Sarah Palin.” Did I mention my friend is a staunch Republican and there is nothing like rubbing her nose in Republican shortfalls when she’s down. 

An hour later, I receive the following text.

“How can I thank you for your support?”

I pick up the phone.

“It’s me. I am being supportive; I just want you to be realistic.”

“Do you think I should put condoms in his room?”

“ABSOLUTELY not!!!! That would be like telling him you’re going to be there through the whole thing and he will never be able to get it up until you are dead.”

Last night my friend drove her son and the trollop to the movies. They actually sat in the back seat of the car and she was in the front like Jeeves.

“Why didn’t you let David drive them?” I asked impatiently. Talk about gluttons for punishment.

“Because he’s sick.”

“It better be terminal.”

“Did he kiss her goodnight at the door?”

“I don’t know, I had to park a bit ahead of the house because there was no room at the curb.”

“Why didn’t you sneak out the car and peek out from behind the trunk?”

“Because I didn’t think of it and you weren’t there to tell me what to do.”

“Next time, call me on your cell phone.”

It’s now Thursday night and the trollop is over watching a rental movie in the family room with the no longer perfect son. David and Caroline are stuck up in their room wondering if they can come down and go out to dinner. I have spoken to her twice during the last hour, and she has finally come to grips with the fact that she is going to be bitter shortly.

Daughters are looking better and better.


Applying to Nursery Schools

It was fall, just like it is now, when my now twenty-two year old was getting ready to apply for her fast-track-to-educational-success nursery schools in New York City. I dutifully joined the Parent’s League in an effort to gain the information I would need to be successful in securing her one of the prized places. Surely it was a sign of my commitment to motherhood. I am normally not a joiner of Leagues.

That was eighteen years ago. I remember clearly the meeting given each year by the Parent’s League, explaining the application process and how to approach it. It was attended by three hundred mothers of her competitors, many of whom I’d seen and chatted with in those nursery prep classes like Gymboree or Baby Time.

That day, we looked different. I never saw us look so good. Gone were the jeans and toddler-stained tee shirts of yesterday, replaced by the uniforms of our pre-baby lives. There were suits, full flowing skirts and long blouses or pants and silk blouses, depending on whether the goal was Dalton or Friends. With a variety of careers behind me and no predetermined notion of where Sarah should go, I wore a navy blue blazer over a long flowing skirt. I guess I should admit that I also like to cover all bases.

The first thing they said that smacked of import was that each and every child would get in — somewhere. I distinctly remember furtively searching the crowd, looking for that brat’s mother, the one who let her son hit my little darling with his Ninja sword a few weeks earlier in the park. Surely, his mother wasn’t there, and if she was, I could safely go back to worrying each and every night about Sarah having no where to go the next September when all her buddies were heading off to their schools. They weren’t lying. I know this because a search through the Mommy Phone Network League proved it. By the way, I recommend joining that league, it’s very informative and gives you something to do while your four-year-old is napping.

There was another surprise announcement that topped the first. That our children would be happy with the school that accepted them. We were told that the NYC private schools actually know what they are doing. They pick children and parents that mesh well together, regardless of whether or not we think they are capable of assessing little Sarah or Sam with the same certainty that we could.

There were a few children that have transferred out of the school we chose that didn’t look all that unhappy to me. If fact, in the two cases that I recall it was more the parents who were unhappy. The kids were learning to read and write, eat those God awful lunches, fill up after school calendars with play dates and tie their shoes at the same speed as the other children. I was surprised when their mothers said they were bored. But that’s another story….

After those reassuring statements, the interview process began. I was more nervous for those appointments than if I was OJ being interviewed by Nightline. And with good reason, I might add. Sarah didn’t respond well to being taken on parade. Looking back, maybe it was her mother’s anxiety that made her uncomfortable.

At the first school she visited, my three-year-old took a doll, put it in a saucepan and started to cook it on the stove. I think she said she was going to boil it into something or other. I saw the “observer” furiously writing on her clipboard, and I knew we were doomed. She came over to me and actually asked if Sarah did that often. “Well” I replied, “She loves to play with dolls, and she loves to cook. I haven’t actually ever seen her do this before, but I can assure you she’s not making her into fudge, but something healthy, like broccoli.” As I held Sarah’s hand on the way out, I realized that I had crumbled under the pressure and let down my little girl down big time. If I could respond today, I’d say something more along the lines of “Let’s discuss quietly where you can take your clipboard and shove it.”

At another interview, we walked in the door and Sarah immediately asked for a cookie. The woman said they didn’t have any, and Sarah explained that all the other places we’d visited (dare I say exactly how many places that child was dragged to?) had cookies. She then turned and walked out the door. I smiled my best apologetic smile, hoping they’d see the value added in accepting a child that wouldn’t suffer from separation anxiety. I inched my way toward the door, mumbling something about bringing her back in and was told that wouldn’t be necessary.

You have a lot of time to think about things you should have done differently while you watch your child throw Harvard away in fifteen short minutes at the age of three. I chose to ponder important things, such as why we picked such common name for our child. If we’d named her Diamonda, or something unique, they would remember her over all the other children. Forgive me, Sarah.


Mother’s Day Epiphany

Ok, so it’s Mother’s Day again — and I’m sitting here contemplating something I heard on the Oprah Friends Channel on XM.

Alice Walker Quote
“I looked for my mother’s garden, and found myself instead.”

It sounds so great, doesn’t it? Find the garden and figure out your life. How hard could it be? Look behind the childhood garage that sits outside in the back of my soul, overgrown a bit with the ivy of the present? Not sure. Not sure.

Remember the movie Mother? Sarah (the one whose mother I am) and I laughed and laughed and loved him as well as her. Well, he wasn’t so great. Totally self absorbed and she’d checked out. My long term shrink (should I mention he’s blind — yes, yes, I went to a blind shrink to see myself better. Helllloooo?), told me that the only thing you aren’t allowed to do is check out. You can be angry at your child. You can be cruel sometimes, but you can never check out. I never have.