Thank God it’s Monday…

nowOnce known for my catlike reflexes, I stumbled into this past weekend on crutches, clanking and clattering—dropping F-bombs. Or so Darling Daughter claimed.

My first meniscus surgery was 5 years ago. My second was last Thursday. Same knee. A little more banged up than the last time, but it went well.  My knee swelled like a balloon on Friday, and there was no getting comfortable, but I figured I’d relax over the weekend.  Not sure what I was thinking.

This isn’t a quiet place, especially on weekends.

Ever the optimist, I went to bed early on Saturday night; heard my Son come in, quietly turn on the oven for his late night snack and let the dogs out. Son and Darling Daughter chatted in hushed tones and I drifted back to sleep.

BEEEEEEEEP. BEEEEEEEEP. BEEEEEEEEP.

As the smoke detector in the kitchen sounded, Grace (my mutt), dove under the blankets near my head. I patted her, blocked it out.

Son mumbled something to his sister about pepperoni dropped in the oven. He opened windows, cranked the ceiling fans, ventilated the downstairs. We live in a Cape Cod home and my master bedroom is (unfortunately) downstairs; the other bedrooms are upstairs. Ugh! The kitchen, bathroom and back door are just outside of my bedroom.

BEEEEEEEEP. BEEEEEEEEP. Smoke alarm started up again…

The Red Dog (Rocky) desperately wanted in bed. Surrounded by 150 pounds of trembling, terrified dogs, I was officially awake. Son peeked into my room.

SON: Can I put the ceiling fan on?

ME: Why not?

SON: Want me to crack a window in here? It’s really smoky…

ME:  How cold is it out?

SON: Cold.

He cracked a window and I burrowed under the blankets.

BEEEEEEEEP. BEEEEEEEEP. BEEEEEEEEP.

The smoke alarm just over my bed joined the party. Darling Daughter was not happy. Son (laughing by then) tried to get a handle on the situation…

The Red Dog was in panic mode. He stood up, swung himself around—and knocked Grace off the bed. It was hysterical. He burrowed under my pillow. Grace quickly scrambled back into bed.  And I shook—with laughter.

I grabbed my metal crutches, headed out of the bedroom. Our tiniest dog, Little Lola, was hiding under the bed. Busy protecting my injured knee as the bigger dogs danced around the bed, I hadn’t noticed.

photo 1 (1)

The Dachshund was undeterred.

He stayed in the kitchen, kept an eye on the oven, waited for the French bread pizza to emerge. He held firm in a plume of smoke, in position to grab crumbs–or maybe he was short enough to not notice?  The animal has focus. Knows his priorities.  Which is probably why Dash is a sturdy little wiener dog.

I rounded the corner to the living room, smacking things with my crutches and there was Darling Daughter, burrowed into the couch under a heap of blankets. With the ceiling fans on full speed, front dogs couchdoor and windows open, it was cold. Her sweatshirt hood was over her head, drawstring pulled tight so that her face was hidden.

And I got it. She couldn’t breathe in the haze of smoke. It was like an indoor bonfire—with no fire, just smoke from the pepperoni sizzling at the bottom of the oven.

The dogs, kids and I gathered in the living room and talked while the house aired out. Son ate his snack.  Darling Daughter and I went to bed at around 2:30 am.

Sleeping in isn’t an option anymore.

Not since last spring when the neighbors got 12 chickens. The rooster did his thing on Sunday morning and the hens started laying eggs shortly afterwards. I had no idea hens were so vocal when laying eggs. But they seem like good chickens, right on schedule every day at the crack of dawn.

Not wanting to get out of bed, I settled in for a Flea Market Flip marathon—until Darling Daughter got under the covers. Son rolled the computer chair over, rested his legs on my bed, wound the dogs up, switched the channel, and turned the TV on and off. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I sent him off with my debit card to get breakfast.

As we gathered around the dining room table, he played with his sisters’ tea paraphernalia; popped open lids, tasted tea leaves, took the top off of her fancy, brand new $200 cast iron teapot. He’s the only person who could get away with that. When they’re together, they delight in winding me up. A college student on an engineering co-op, she’s home on weekends this semester–meaning they tease and torture me every weekend.

No idea why I expected to nurse my knee over a weekend.

ME (to Son): Please stop talking.

SON: I haven’t stopped talking.

DARLING DAUGHTER (to her brother): I’m so entertained.  This makes me very happy. I miss you.

The conversation continued, as Darling Daughter and Son looked over his Common App for college; he had asked her to review it.

DARLING DAUGHTER: When was your divorce final? Month and Year?

ME: No idea. I can look it up…

SON: Yes, when was our family destroyed? (And they were off, laughing, utterly amused…)

DARLING DAUGHTER: What’s your occupation?

SON: I always struggle with that question…

DARLING DAUGHTER: Should we put mom as a semi-skilled worker?

DARLING DAUGHTER (to me): Let’s not oversell you.

They continued on, mostly like I wasn’t there—having a great time.

By then I was desperate to leave. Decided to run errands. Loaded up my crutches and got the hell out…

And on this beautiful Monday, I’m enjoying peace and quiet. Finally.

Of course, it all ends between 5:30 and 6:00 pm each day–but I’ll take what I can get.

And truly, I’ve learned to love Monday.


Click here for my latest “She in the CLE” blog post. 

What is She in the CLE?

“A blogger collective dedicated to driving conversations with purpose by women in the Cleveland area. We provide a channel for women to engage and discuss topics at all levels from climbing the corporate ladder to sampling the best eats in the city to raising a family! Our mission isn’t about defining the conversations or topics – it’s all about creating a vibrant, virtual space that allows for networking, continual learning and storytelling.”

Haven’t checked it out? I encourage you to do so…

My Broken (dislocated) Finger

Which finger got banged up?

Yep. That’s the one. My ‘middle’ finger… (On the right hand.)

And it has me wondering if I should attend tomorrows high school track meet?

Son high jumps and pole vaults. He also runs, sort of. (They put him in if they need another person in a relay, or something…)

nick high jumppole vaultPerfect events for Son. He’s been flinging himself about since he could stand on two feet. A freshmen, he never pole vaulted until last month. He gave it a try (no training, or experience) and quickly jumped 10 feet. He regularly swings up over 10 and 11 feet, using his trusty (or at least we hope it is!!) pole.

I doesn’t look so trusty when it bends and he’s ‘flying through the air with the greatest of ease…’

Last Saturday was Cold. And windy.

It was one of those track meets where only a parent will stand out there. And there I stood, out on the football field, watching Son high jump. I was wrapped up like a burrito in a giant, fleece blanket. My arms all wrapped up IN the blanket.

When high jump was over, I shuffled back toward the bleachers and tripped over my blanket. My hand smashed into the ground. Hard.

I got up and continued walking–As I walked, I pulled off one glove. Then the other…

hand copy Sh#t! My middle finger was headed in two directions. Where it met my hand, it was going left. But the top half definitely wanted to go to the right.

What to do?

I trudged up to the press box, to get my daughters car keys. I had to borrow her car because mine is stick shift. I drove to our local family doctors office, waited an hour for the x-ray tech to come in. (As always, I had a book in my purse.) Then I got nerve blocks in my finger, so they could yank it back into place. The finger was also broken, and the tendons and ligaments are a tad bit banged up.

Luckily, I got back to the track meet in time to see Son pole vault.

But for most of this week, my hand looked like a paw. Fingers, knuckles and hand were swollen to nearly 2x the size of my other hand–and a bit purple. There are three fingers on the hand that were jammed. Probably, I won’t ever be putting rings on those fingers again–unless the knuckles return to their normal size.

And yes, I type for a living with my job at The News Herald.

My goal this week? I just wanted to be able to hit the comma. Who even thinks about reaching the comma, with their middle finger? I didn’t until this week. And it would be great to be able to hold a pen…

_______________

Aunt Kate: These things happen to us. Things that don’t HAPPEN to other people…

_______________

Friend: You went down? All the way to the ground?

Me: Yes.

Friend: I’m sorry…(apologizing because she couldn’t stop herself from laughing in my face…)

Me: Go ahead and laugh. Everybody else has been…

_______________

Co-worker: THAT’S THE STORY? You’re going to have to come up with a better story.

Me: One where I don’t look like an idiot??

_______________

Lastly, Daughter teased me when I couldn’t do things; grip a pen, brush my hair properly, etc.

Darling Daughter: It’s a finger, you have nine more of them!!

(Son and Daughter both thought that was hilarious)

Darling Daughter: Be careful you don’t stub a toe. That might really sideline you!!

I restrained myself, but I really wanted to stick my finger in the air. To help my circulation, of course. So the blood didn’t rush to my swollen hand, and make it throb. Not because I wanted to signal the kids.

_______________

Tomorrow…

I’m a little apprehensive about attending the track meet.

Last week, Son was 10+ feet off the ground. And I got hurt, putting one foot in front of the other??

Plus, I’ll be out in public. Which means the beating I’ve taken all week is bound to continue. And I get it. I give those around me plenty to make fun of. I know they can’t help themselves.

Probably, I’ll go. But I’ll be really, really careful…

Or as careful as I can be.

I’ve Been Holding Out …

Generally, I blog about normal everyday life.  With (mostly) good humor and (hopefully) a degree of perspective.

But for the past few months, I’ve held back.

Not on purpose. More because I couldn’t FIND perspective. Because this past summer was one of the most difficult I can remember–especially after my car bit the dust in May.

For 4 months, I was without a car of my own.

At a party last weekend:

Friend: Amy, you are too nice. Always the ‘peacemaker.’ We are going to have to teach you how to be NOT NICE!

Daughter was within earshot…

Darling Daughter: Just take her car away. That’ll do it.

Me: She’s right.

Darling Daughter: She’s been horribly cranky…

She spoke the truth and I admitted it to everyone. Though we all had a laugh, those months were awful.  So much so that I couldn’t put words to the low points, my despair. I lost my freedom, my autonomy…and even my sense of self-worth sometimes.

But I finally bought a car. A used car, but it is new to me.

Though older, my Nissan Altima is loaded with safety features, has leather interior, disc brakes, a moon roof, a BOSE stereo system and much more.

I’m not sure anybody appreciates having a car as much as I do.

The cherry on top?

It is stick shift, which I wanted. (but couldn’t find when I got my last car) With its powerful V6 engine, my new/old car is a joy to drive. A party on 4 wheels.

My local Nissan dealership took it on a trade a few weeks ago. And it would have been sold in a day or two. Except nobody wanted a 5-speed.

Several Nissan employees (all men) had their eye on it. Were thinking of buying it.

So it was sort of funny that a girl strolled in and grabbed it.

My first car was stick shift, but I haven’t driven one since my early 20’s. Like riding a bike, it came back to me as soon as I got behind the wheel for the test drive.

The other thing that is sort of funny (In hindsight anyway…) is how quickly our car situation turned around.

My ex gave his Lexus to our daughter a couple of weeks ago, when he got a new car. The Lexus had high mileage since he drives a lot for work. Nearly 200K. But it is a solid car, not very old–and should last her a while.

Our  driveway was empty for months. Unless you count the 14 cars I borrowed off and on.

Somehow,  we went from ZERO cars, to TWO cars in a matter of days!?!

The kids and I have been through our share of challenges, but the ‘car thing’ was almost my undoing. And I have no idea how my children tolerated living with me at times. Or why they didn’t run away from home.

Not sure how family and friends coped either. But they did. Not only did they all hang in there, they went out of their way to boost my spirits,  support me and chauffeur me around.

They ALSO  let me borrow their cars.

And I’m not even the best driver. Yet only Aunt Kate handed over her keys and said, “Just don’t crash it…”

The car isn’t the only thing I’ve held out on…

I’ve had a new job for months. A job that truly enjoy. That I’m good at. (For a while, I wondered if I was ‘good’ at anything.)

After being laid off a couple of years ago, I was determined to find a job/career that suited me. I’ve sold vintage items online and I’m still an eBay PowerSeller and Top Rated Seller. I’ve also taken freelance projects; written and edited web content, set up blogs, even designed a restaurant menu . With no idea where it was going, I kept saying ‘yes’ even when I was terrified. Kept doing what I loved—Selling. Marketing. Writing.

Until I fell into my current job as a Marketing Manager for a local (downtown Willoughby) company.

Then, more serendipity. A friend that I met through my online selling leased space in downtown Willoughby one block away from my new job—and I’ve been busy moving my part-time eCommerce business there. Helping my friend market her upcycled furniture. (More on that another time…)

Not too long ago, I was down…though maybe not out. And suddenly, I’m surrounded by opportunity and possibility.

For the longest time, I felt as though I was on a roller coaster, with it clicking up…up and up farther. Seemed I went uphill forever. With no end in sight.

Then, out of nowhere I hit the top. And now I’m just hanging on for the ride as it rolls downhill…

I’ve got the beginnings of a career in marketing. A small side business doing what I love to do. A blog that has been read by thousands. (for some reason???) A car. Two (seemingly) well-adjusted, happy teenagers. A peaceful and happy home. Family and friends. A couple of dogs

And I’m full of gratitude. For my ‘inner circle’ of family and close friends for not giving up on me. For sticking by me when I wasn’t all that fun to be around. When it would have been far easier to bail. And for continuing to believe in me—even when my belief in myself got shaky.

As I type this post, I wonder if it gets much better than this?

Especially when I’m driving my new/old car. Because it hauls as#. I can’t wipe the smile off my face when I’m behind the wheel. There is a sense of triumph that I hung in there–even when I couldn’t see a way out.

And for sure, I am starting to get excited about what comes next again…

Special Thanks to my family & friends for getting me to and from my new job (one way or another) these past months. I’ve never been more grateful or felt more lucky to have all of you at my back.

Lucky #13 ~ The Ford Edge?

There have been 13 cars parked in my driveway in the past 3 months…

1. Honda Accord:

Back in May, I still had my Trusty Honda Accord. 13 years old and about 225,000 miles on it. It was getting tired, so I sold it.

LIFE JUST KIND OF HUMMED ALONG.

2. Dodge Grand Caravan:

I used the cash from the Honda Accord to buy The Green Van. I knew I was taking a chance, but didn’t want a car payment. Drove the Green Machine down to Washington D.C and it promptly bit the dust. I’ve been without a car since the end of May.

The relatives brought me back home. Sort of like an ‘Adult Carpool.’

3. Toyota Corolla:

My cousin dropped me off at my father’s house. They were out-of-town, so I borrowed their zippy little Toyota Corolla. Handled great. And got FANTASTIC gas mileage.

4. Chevy Tahoe:

Then my Dad got back and I was handed off their other vehicle for several weeks. That truck was top-notch for hauling my teenage son and his friends to football conditioning each day. They are all 6’ to 6’3” and bigger than most adult men. The downside? I think it got about 8 miles per gallon and it cost me a fortune to put gas in the thing…

5. & 6. Trailblazer & Audi A4:

Borrowed from my friend and her daughter when I needed to run an errand or pick up kids.

7. Ford Pickup:

Borrowed from my neighbor Chapman when I was in a bind.

8. Buick LeSabre:

One of my girlfriends had to travel for work and I had this car for several weeks, as well. One doesn’t so much ‘ride’ in a Buick LeSabre, one ‘floats’ down the road. And its burgundy. (She calls it Classic Old Person Color). Fully loaded, leather seats, power everything…its like rolling down the freeway in a recliner. Might be my favorite car this summer. (Was for sure Daughters favorite.)

9. Chevy Impala:

Same family that owned the LeSabre also had an Impala, which we also had here and there.

10. GMC Truck:

Borrowed from yet another friend when I needed to haul furniture. (Another story)

11. Nissan Rouge:

Aunt Kate’s car. Have had that, too.

12. Lexus Sedan:

Daughter has had her Dad’s car when he has been out-of-town.

13. Ford Edge:

This is Lucky #13. And what I am driving today. And this weekend. Fitting that it is called the ‘Edge’ because having it parked in my driveway is keeping me AWAY from the Edge. I’m just not sure how much longer I can be without a car of my own…

Me: I really, really LIKE this car.

Son: It’s a CAR.

Me: True.

Son: Like…any CAR works at this point.

The biggest problem?

For nearly 3 months, I cannot find these cars in parking lots. I have no idea WHICH vehicle I am looking for. Or even what I arrived in…

Sometimes, (Okay…frequently) I have to pull out the keys to jog my memory.

But the end of this disaster is near.

Because It just cannot go on. Not for me. Not for my friends and family.

Son: Mom, it’s a good thing you have friends.

Me: Yeah. For some reason, people seem to like me. No idea why…

Here’s to lucky #13.

May #14 be my NEXT CAR…

Darling Daughters A.M. Bicycle Acrobatics

This week, Team USA’s Fab Five won a gold medal in gymnastics. If bicycle acrobatics was an Olympic sport, Darling Daughter may have had a gold medal, too.

At 7:30 am, Daughter was en Route to her summer babysitting job. She traveled by bike. Had to be there by 8 a.m.

The ride? About 8 miles…

Cars whizzed by, as she peddled up a small hill and approached a major intersection. (Route 20 and Center Rd, for readers who live in my city)

Daughter hugged the side of the road, bike tires bumped between grass and curb…she wobbled along. Tried to save it. Then finally curbed it.

Daughter (in her head): Oh sh#t…I’m going down.

She flipped off the bike, but miraculously landed on her feet at the foot of the hill, helmet askew.

Luckily Darling Daughter inherited my catlike reflexes and instinctively dove for the grass. Executed a graceful tuck and roll that somehow ended up part somersault, dive roll and front flip.

Thanks to the helmet which absorbed any impact, her head was fine as it skimmed the grass. Blood streamed down the front of her leg from scrapes on her knee.

The bike? A little banged up.

She called me to pick her up. Except I don’t have a car right now.

So Aunt Kate (Who IS here now AND living in a city nearby…) rushed over. Picked me up. And we hustled across town to peel Darling Daughter off the concrete. I handed Daughter band aids and Neosporin. We tossed the bike in the car and left the scene.

Darling Daughter was super happy it was the first week of high school football practice. Meaning high school boys from every end of our small town either watched daughter ‘fly through the air with the greatest of ease’ or saw her perched on the side of the road waiting to be rescued.

They couldn’t miss her. She wore a neon yellow shirt so that cars would SEE her. And not HIT her.

NOT so that the town could witness her humiliation.

I never told Daughter to wear the bike helmet. But she knows where I stand on helmets. And she has seen me wear it.

On Bikes and Bike Helmets …

I WANT TO RIDE MY BICYCLE; I WANT TO RIDE MY BIKE…

Ever heard that song by Queen? It’s my cell phone ringtone.

I’m trying to embrace the bike since there are days it is my only transportation. Until I get a car. And I hope (and plan) to have a car soon.

And I’m pro bike helmet. Firmly.

Because the brain isn’t like an arm or leg. Doesn’t always heal when it gets banged up. Statistically, kids usually don’t get hurt riding bikes. Adults do.

I’ve seen the effects of traumatic brain injury, and it doesn’t make sense to take the chance. Which is why I bought the helmet soon after I bought the road bikes this spring.

And the day I bought it…

Just for fun, I strapped it on and sat down in the dining room when I saw Daughter headed for our front door. She glanced my way as she entered the house.

Daughter: What’s with the helmet?

Me: It’s for when I ride the bike.

Daughter: Oh…

Me: Know why? Because…I LOVE YOU.

Daughter shot me the ‘duh?’ look…

Me:  If anybody can crash the bike, it’s me. Things tend to happen to me. And I don’t want you and Son stuck caring for a mother in a permanent vegetative state if I wreck the bike and bang my head.

And though I was sitting in my dining room, wearing a helmet—I was actually quite serious.

And so Daughter flounced back out the front door, headed to a bonfire with friends. But she relayed the story when she got there.

Daughter: So I went home to change clothes….and my mom was wearing a helmet.

Daughter’s Boyfriend: That’s fitting.

Quite a few adults expressed surprise that I wear the helmet…

Chapman: You got a helmet?!? I’ll just pretend I don’t know you.

Me:  Fine with me. I’m still wearing it.

Though with my luck, I’ll fall off the dam# bike—and twist my knee, or some other stupid thing.

I WANT TO RIDE MY BICYCLE; I WANT TO RIDE IT WHERE I LIKE.

Maybe my ringtone STRETCHES the truth.

Back to Darling Daughters gold medal performance…

I almost dropped my cell phone when Daughter told me where to pick her up. Because I nearly wrecked the bike in the same spot LAST month. I swerved to avoid a metal pole. Missed it by an inch, managed to stay off the pavement…AND on my feet. Thank you catlike reflexes!!

What can I say? Like mother, like daughter?

Even down to putting on the helmet.

Smart girl. And from what I hear, she’s quite the acrobat…