July 28th, 2011

Why is it that when I travel on my own dime, i.e. not for work, every possible thing goes wrong? And maybe because it is my own money it drives me even crazier than normal. For brevity sake I will keep this to the most unbelievable leg of four of my journey: the very last one.

This picture my friends, shows what we were confronted with when we stepped onto the plane, which of course, was over an hour late.

A

2

“What the heck?!” You might be asking yourself. “Are they really flying on Ghetto-Flights-Are-Us?”

Actually, I don’t like to name names, (::cough:: AirTran) but as we boarded we couldn’t quite figure out why the airplane cabin had what looked like toilet paper stuffed in every conceivable crevice.

But it didn’t take us long to find out.

As we taxied out and took off, water ran down from the ceiling and into our faces. Our faces!

Now I get condensation, really I do. But I’ve never had water spitting into my eyes from an airline bulkhead before!

Have you?!!

While I know it might shock you (or not), as soon as I had a spare five minutes I sent a complaint in to the aforementioned airline asking them to confirm what the heck it was running into MY EYES. And how was I to know if it was a health risk or not??

The answer was: Here is $25 for your trouble. Condensation is normal. Sorry you got wet.

$25 barely, barely, barely covers my baggage fee….and while I’m on that topic, I was asked to put my laptop bag under the seat in front of me in order to accommodate more roller bags.

I (mostly) politely told the stewardess that I’d be happy to put my small laptop bag under my feet so someone else could put up their HUGE roller bag in the overhead bin….as soon as they handed me my $25 back….in cash, no checks. But if they wanted to give me their credit card number and mother’s maiden name maybe we could make a deal.

But I digress.

Where was I? Oh yes: the ridiculous: ”Condensation = normal. Sucks to be you.” email.

Hmmmm…..I generally fly once a month. I have never had water in my eyes. And did they answer my concerns about un-sterile condensation falling in my eyes??

Heck no.

I almost wish I’d have gotten pink eye so I could have sued them! Then I could have changed the airline name to AirRain!

1
June 23rd, 2011

Now I don’t like to gripe…. Okay. That is a complete lie. I LOVE to gripe. I consider it a contact sport and think it should be added to the Olympics line up.

Allow me to set the stage for my latest tale: we’ve been away from home for 10 days.

We have cats….more cats than we probably should. Let’s just leave it at that.

But the cats have been home the last 10 days: scritchy-scratching the area rugs we have; shedding their winter coats on our chocolate brown corduroy couch and my maroon fabric easy chair; getting into and demolishing the linen cabinet. Generally making the absolute worst mess possible to punish us for leaving them.

Add to that we are in the process of cleaning out Mr. J’s apartment. We stopped there on our way home and both of our cars were packed to the brim with boxes, luggage, dirty laundry, etc.

Bottom line: the house is a disaster area and since I’m on day three of a migraine when I get home from work last night I don’t anticipate the status of the house changing from ‘disaster’ to ‘passable’ anytime soon.

Mr. J comes downstairs from his office greets me and then says, “My boss is in town and we’re going to meet here tomorrow afternoon.”

What did he say?

My eyes sweep the entire downstairs area of our house. Yes: just as bad as I thought.

Dumbfounded I just blink at him.

“Oh, and can I borrow your car since my car is still full of boxes.”

My car?

My car that has been on a 10 day road trip and is filthy from stem to stern? There are bugs embedded in the front of that car that will NEVER come off.

Heavy sigh.

Heavier sigh.

The pain in my head doubles. Someone please wake me up from this nightmare.

Because, unlike some people, cleaning is NOT my thing. I don’t enjoy it under any circumstances. I have friends who love to clean. It relieves stress for them…I always invite them over but so far, no takers.

Me? I’d rather iron my tongue into tiny pin tuck pleats than clean the house!

Three and a half hours later, sweat stinging my eyes, I consider collapsing on the couch but then that would have to be cleaned too!

Just to be clear: Mr. J was helping. He had to move all of the boxes appropriated from my car and the ones he’d moved from his car upstairs. (I made him swear an Unbreakable Vow that he’d let his boss know I have no control over the upstairs of the house.)

So I’m standing at the front of the house after sweeping off the porch wondering if I have time to go purchase a pressure washer when, with a critical eye, I ponder what our would look like to Mr. J’s boss? I mean, our house is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a nice townhouse. But there is nothing extravagant about it either: no excessive amounts of square footage. No travertine marble imported from Italy. No hand-painted murals on the walls.

On the other hand: we did just update the kitchen. Unfortunately during the process the faceplate on the microwave was broken off and frankly it looks pretty darn ghetto.

Hmmmm…maybe Mr. Bossman will give Mr. J a raise since we obviously can’t afford a new microwave, let alone a maid!

2
Posted in Uncategorized |
June 6th, 2011

Once again, allow me to apologize for the long silence. I’ve been ‘nesting’ now that Mr. J is back home full time. Which begs another question: what will happen to this blog long term? Will I abandon it….like I’ve done on and off to date? Another topic, for another time.

For now, I’d ask for your indulgence as I wallow in self-pity. Of course, for those of you that know me an episode of self-indulgence will be nothing new.

I’ve had family members hand me a book with blank pages and the title, “All About Me” and say, “Knock yourself out.”

Before I get too deep in my melancholy allow me to throw out a few things I know to be true:
1. I know how lucky I am to be alive. I know from painful experience. Or three.

2. I know there are a lot of people who would happily change places with me, i.e. I have a very good life: awesome husband, friends and family that love me, a nice house, a fulfilling job, etc.

3. I know that pro-creating is no guarantee that you’ll live happily-ever-after in Walton-esque bliss.

If I know all of this, then why am I letting my upcoming 45th birthday bust my chops?

I didn’t care about 40. In fact, I felt liberated. I felt like, “New era. All that worry about what other people thought: to heck with that! I don’t care what anyone thinks. Now it is my turn!”

Sadly, 45 leaves me feeling lost. Being in spitting distance of 50 really makes me question what I’ve accomplished to date in my life. Have I lived up to my potential?

I know part of the melancholy comes from how so many people in my peer group are celebrating the weddings and college graduations of their children. However, for full disclosure purposes, I never wanted kids. It wasn’t my thing. (See “self-indulgence” above.)

But still…..there is something sad about knowing that when I’m gone there will be nothing left behind.

Which, of course, is why I wanted to write my novel and get it published. I am hopeful I’ll pick that back up shortly. I hear my characters’ voices whispering in my ear again.

On the other hand, there is one thing that will outlive me: this blog. Nothing is ever ‘gone’ on the web!

On a more positive note, by the time I’d finished this ‘dialogue’ on Facebook last night and written up this longer commentary this morning I realized that I am much closer to my life goals at 45 than I was at 40.

So all is not lost, dear reader. I am moving through my meloncholy to embrace all of the wonderful things in my life…including my age. As my father often says, “It’s better than the alternative!”

I’ll leave you with another quote:

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change.”
— Wayne W. Dyer

2
Posted in LJ's Story |
December 7th, 2010

The bed creaked under us; bare skin slipped noiselessly between clean cotton sheets.

Our heads touched pillows only for a brief second before groans filled the air.

“Oh my,” I cried out, overcome with emotion.

“Yes,” he moaned, answering me in kind. “How long has it been?” he asked.

“Years,” I say, breathless from the pleasure.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” he asks his voice husky in my ear.

“I don’t know. I’m sorry….I had no idea it would be so good.”

“How old were you?” he persists, desperate to understand how I could keep something like this from him.

“Fifteen,” I say. “In my parent’s house.” I turn my head away. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner.”

“I tried asking you about it….” he lets his words hang between us, too overcome by the heaven we are feeling at this moment.

“I know. I know,” guilt overwhelms me now. “All of these years…all of these wasted years.”

While his head is cradled, childlike on the pillow his voice is strong, accusatory: “Jeez, Lara. If you’d only told me about heated mattress pads sooner it would have made all of these horribly cold winters in the North that much more bearable! I wouldn’t have been freezing my a$$ off like Frosty the Snowman!”

How many times can a girl apologize????

0
November 7th, 2010

Hi. Just a quick note to say that for Mr. J’s birthday in mid-December I have promised that the sh!tty first draft (industry term, I promise) of my novel will be completed. Therefore all of my creative juices are flowing in that direction!

I’ve been working on the novel since 2006. It is very exciting that the first draft is almost completeled. But make no mistake: it is in NO WAY ready for prime time. That is what the 2nd and 3rd drafts are there to accomplish!

Once I make the mid-December deadline, I’ll be back.

Please hang in there with me.

0
Posted in Uncategorized |
October 10th, 2010

I never thought I’d ever quote a dysfunctional drama-queen diva but here goes:

“It’s been a while. I know I shouldn’t have kept you waiting. But I’m here now.”

Where have I been? It’s a good question. I’ve heard it a lot.

Via email from England.

Face to face in my hometown.

On the telephone in one of my two homes.

Things have been chaotic and after a few challenging months I have my head screwed on straight and I’m busting the dust off of this blog!

Doing some navel gazing gave me the opportunity to review the blog entries I’ve shared out and reinforced the fact that the blog has basically become a Lara-rant-terrific blog instead of a blog about coping with being in a long distance relationship.

In my defense, however, I think the day to day frustrations that trigger my over the top annoyance does so because I’m living alone and have no safe outlet at the end of the day.

I realize my logic could be touching a nerve in those of you who do live alone. Like, “Hey! WTH? I live alone and cope just fine, thank you very much!”

Yep. I get it.

When I lived alone, without being in a relationship, I had no expectation of assistance from anyone. Being married and living apart makes me have a slightly different perspective. I feel frustrated and angry that we’re apart when things are tough or when I need to vent. Because sometimes the phone or Skype just don’t cut it.

My hope is that my readers will forgive the long hiatus and come back to me.

Just so you know: I have a LOT of material from the summer’s shenanigans, all just as over the top exasperating as ever.

But most importantly, as Mr. J and I worked through some things this summer I am glad to report that going forward, not only will I be able to spend a week with him per month, he can now spend a week with me too. We are very excited to get to live together half the time, as opposed to one-quarter of the time.

Even better, by the end of next summer, we are hopeful that he will have completely transitioned his position and will be working back here in the city with me!

Hang onto your hats: I’m sure hilarity (and a tiny bit of frustration) will ensue as we remerge our lives. Because for good or ill: I’m used to living alone now. It’s been three years after all!!

The first thing I said to him when he broke the news to me was, “Uh – where the heck are we going to put all your junk?”

Yep. It is going to be an interesting ride!

3
Posted in Uncategorized |
June 20th, 2010

I will not guarantee that this post is going to be “G” rated. PG-13, maybe.

100_0394

As Mr. J headed north for a day trip on our Anniversary we ran first into the “We Do Cows” sign. Pulling off the highway I just had to take a picture to share with my readers.

I’ll leave to your imagination what sort of comments we made as we yucked it up back on the interstate.
100_0436

Once we were at our destination we couldn’t help but see the Viking statute “Big Ole” standing at 28 foot tall. He had recently undergone a makeover and was no longer grey headed & bearded. Now a blond, Big Ole looks remarkably like the 4th season blond half of Starsky and Hutch!

I turned to Mr. J and said, “Now he could do cows!”

0
June 11th, 2010

I wasn’t the most popular kid in high school. Being overweight, wearing glasses and coming from the poor side of town didn’t do much to put me on the “A” list of cool kids. And I didn’t have a hard enough shell to pretend that being unpopular didn’t matter.

When I graduated from high school I never wanted to see any of those people again. Ever. Ever.

As our 20th year class reunion rolled around (before the advent of MySpace or Facebook) I gave in and provided my contact details to the reunion organizer. I recall a few days into January 2006 an email arrived from one of the classmates: “This is the year we turn 40. Who’s first?”

I stared at that email for a long time. Who is the “we” in this statement?

Then it hit me: the people on this email distribution list, for good or bad were my peers. We had a history together. Suddenly I was curious about them. Even those who made my life a living hell I wondered about. What were they doing now? Had they gotten what they wanted out of life? Were they successful? Bums? Rock stars? Drug dealers? Delivery men for Domino’s pizza?

I wasn’t an early adopter of social networking but in 2008 a high school friend emailed me and recommended I sign up on one of the sites. “We’re all there,” she said.

There is that “we” word again.

Still.

I was curious.

It turned out I love social networking. There is a little thrill about getting a friendship request from long lost friends and acquaintances. One of the nicest things I’ve ever heard is, “I’ve been looking for you for years!”

Last week when I realized I was going to be in my hometown for a family funeral and then staying on for a week, I threw out a post that said I was in town. If anyone wanted to get together to let me know.

Even today, 25 years later, that was still nerve-wracking. What if NO ONE responds? Jeez, it’ll be just like high school all over again. I imagine everyone in a private chat room laughing at me, “Who does she think she is?? No one wants to drop everything and go have drinks with her. She was such a loser!”

But luckily someone responded. A girl I had known since I was eight years old. And then she roped in other chicks for an evening of “catch up.”

How do you “catch up” on 25 years of history in one evening?

It is kind of like speed dating: one person gets 5 minutes to tell their story since high school and then you continue around the colorfully tiled table top in the chi-chi Mexican restaurant where Margaritas start at $9.

$10 for a drink? Where am I? Vegas??

On my drive over to an area of town that didn’t even exist when I lived here I thought: what on earth could you guys possibly have in common?

Uhm….let’s see: We all went to high school together. We all wore blue eye shadow together. We all turned 40 together. Surely there must be some common ground somewhere, right?

There was:
Two of us couldn’t have children for medical reasons. Two of us were on at least our second marriage. Three of us had children. Two of us considered ourselves mildly funny: one having actually done standup comedy.

We laughed about make out sessions in our high school auditorium, about cutting class to go sit in our cars waiting for the next class where we actually liked our teacher. We remembered eating French fries and chocolate ice cream from Braum’s for lunch and how 25 years ago we couldn’t wait to grow up. Now, at 44 and counting we didn’t really feel that much older. But sadly, no one ID’d us as we ordered and then downed top shelf margaritas.

It wasn’t all light hearted banter. One of the chicks brought our senior yearbook and as we looked over our classmates we talked about who from the class we’d already lost to death, who was the first to go barely out of high school and the most recent loss just this year.

As we talked about what it was like to have adult children one of the “girls” was telling us how she’d taken her son to Vegas for his 21st birthday. “I’ve always been the cool mom.” (I’m sure she was. She was the first friend I had to give me alcohol. Strawberry daiquiris! Gotta love her!) “But that was all over when I saw a prostitute proposition my son in a casino. I was done being cool! I almost decked her!”

“Well you can mark ‘seeing son w/prostitute’ off your bucket list,” I quipped back. (Okay. So clearly I wasn’t the one who had done standup comedy.)

The evening wound down and we detailed our various infirmities and decided: yes we must be 40+ year old women because we were sitting around talking about all the things that ailed us. Cancer. Odd female maladies that made us grow hair where we didn’t want it while cruelly losing hair where we did want it. Can anyone say “male pattern baldness”? We waxed eloquently about painful skin conditions, killer migraines, and the hormonal hell known as peri – or just straight up full blown – menopause.

Of course no regaling of life would be complete without sex. Yes, women always talk about sex. Always. Just deal with it. Giggling through another drink we discussed the good, the bad, and the kinky.

BTW: Mom – if you’re reading this: none of this was me. I was there trying to have a prayer meeting and drinking tap water….but these other chicks? They were wild!

Standing up to leave, we all groaned various knee, ankle and back issues uniting us even further. “This was so much fun!” we all said as we hugged and said our good-byes.

And it was fun. Life isn’t for the faint of heart. And after we’d all had a turn sharing our own personal stories, it was good to be united by this thing called “life.”

These women are all so beautiful not in spite of, but because of the curves life has thrown at them. They’ve gotten back up…even if it was on creaking knees. They are strong. Vibrant. Women I’m proud to call my friends.

I can’t wait to come back to town!

2
Tags: | Posted in LJ's Story, Uncategorized |
May 30th, 2010

Dining RoomPeonies

Our three day weekend started out lovely enough.

We’ve been calling our newly redecorated home: The Jones Bed & Breakfast.

Mr. J got up and made omelet’s w/his proprietary recipe of special ingredients and we sat down in our gorgeous dining room….for the first time in our married life we actually have a dining room table and chairs….drinking my favorite Caribou Coffee: Mahogany.

I stepped outside to our flower bed and carefully snipped off a few peonies: magenta and light pink, making sure the ants which are vital to opening up the blooms are nowhere to be seen; I settled into my favorite chair and contemplated what we should do for the day.

We decided to take a drive downtown to the Farmer’s market. We have an awesome outdoor market: over the years we’ve taken stunning pictures there of the flora, veggies and fruit available with just a little kitsch thrown in for good measure. My dad loves to go there and pick up leather work gloves for $10 a pair. I try to look the other way, afraid they have fallen off the back of a truck somewhere.

On the way downtown we saw two little critters sitting on the side of the road.

Ever since I was a child, when my father would point out wildlife to us during road trips, I always keep my eyes peeled for animals. Today we saw two little guys, who after some searching on the internet we decided were young muskrats. I doubled back and we sat and looked at each other from the car: us at them, them at us. They were so darn cute. I wanted to get out of the car, snatch one up and give them a cuddle but Mr. J put the kibosh on that plan.

Anywho – downtown we went. In and around the Farmer’s Market was a madhouse. No park to be had. After circling for fifteen minutes I gave up, discouraged and then missed my turn and ended up in Interstate Exchange Hell. I swear we “looped” the dang city five times before I managed to get us on the right road, headed back to the ‘burbs where I was going to stop at Trader Joes for some awesome chocolate “Expresso Pillows.”

If I’m drinking wine (which I plan to be doing this weekend) I want a little chocolate with it. These aren’t too bad calorie wise and they taste like sin!

Without too much hassle at TJ we went to my local Co-op where I found out they’ve discontinued my favorite line of Raw Food. What?? That is why I joined that silly Co-op to begin with!

Then to Target. I love and hate Target at the same time. Today mostly hate.

I fill my prescriptions there using their Target credit card: after every 10th prescription I get a 10% off coupon to be used all day at Target. Love that. Today, I go to the pharmacy to pick up my monthly prescriptions…seems like the quantity of those grow the older I get: go figure.

I swipe my card to pay for today’s haul of prescription drugs. The card declines. Or so the wet-behind-the-ears young man tells me. Funny: the electronic keypad in front of me says, “Sales Complete.” He has me swipe it again. And again. Finally he takes the card from me and swipes it himself, behind the counter.

I’m getting suspicious now and begin to wonder if I’m going to find that I’ve paid for my drugs like, oh, I don’t know: six times??

I finally give up and use my debit card. Miffed, I stalk up to the Guest Services counter and demand they tell me what the heck is going on.

“We have no information on your Target Credit Card.”

Of course you don’t.

“You can use our phone if you’d like to call them.”

“I have my own phone,” I say, barely civil at this point. The ineptitude of this place amazes me!

After another annoying five minutes wading through telephone Voice Recognition Unit hell, I finally hit “zero” so many times there is no choice to but “Get me to an agent”.

“What the HECK is going on with my card?” I bark into the receiver.

“We haven’t received your May payment. Your account is closed until such a time that we receive your payment.”

What?

“We didn’t receive your May payment. It was due May 20th.”

Dear God! Could it be that I’ve made a mistake??

I slink off back to Mr. J and tell him my sad tale of woe. Being in the banking field he assures me that since I’m only 10 days past due, my credit rating should not be damaged.

I spend the rest of the Target visit muttering to myself about how I can’t do anything right: can’t even pay my !!#$$%#$ credit card bill. I do all of my banking online through one financial institution. The Target credit card is the only one that I cannot seem to keep on top of and that is because it isn’t issued by my primary bank.

ARRGGHHH.

Just so you know: I did go back and apologize to the Pharmacy Clerk whose ears I’d pinned back 15 minutes prior. Clearly my karma has already taken enough hits for the day.

Then we were off to Costco. Costco on a holiday weekend should be empty, right?

Wrong.

Talk about total chaos! They had more food giveaways and more clearly starving people than were probably at the overcrowded lakes this opening weekend of the summer season here in the United States.

Every where you looked there were stations of food giveaways: marbled Colby cheese, golden pineapple, strawberries, sausage, crab dip, taquitos, chips and salsa, chocolate “protein” bars.

We picked up our standard fare:
• Avocados
• Tomatoes
• Gluten Free Crackers
• Orange, Yellow and Red Peppers

Once home, well after 2pm, we worked on fixing a quick lunch.

And in keeping with the theme of the day the quart of grape tomatoes we’d just purchased decided to jump out of the refrigerator and play 52-card pick up: spilling and rolling everywhere: under the refrigerator, into the pantry, under the cabinets. The cats were in heaven: soccer balls!

We are trying to corral tomatoes and cats, both bent on getting away from us and wreaking havoc to my otherwise spotless kitchen.

I kept taking long, deep breathes and trying not to scream. Mr. J had the decency to look away as he chuckled. Smart man.

Even still: I decided he could round up the wayward tomatoes himself. After all I had a delinquent Target credit card bill to take care of.

I tried logging on to their website to pay my bill. And tried logging on. And tried logging on: guessing (poorly) as to what my login and password might be until I had locked myself out of my Target account completely.

Really? Really?

Having had enough we decided to take a nap. I mean: surely it would all be better after some sleep. Kind of a level setting of the day: resetting expectations, etc.

Four hours later found us prepping dinner. I was slicing up pepper rings to grill on the brand spanking new George Foreman (with detachable plates) when I felt the knife slip and cut deep into my right pointer finger.

OUCH.

This is the reason my mother could never stand to see me with a knife in my hand! My left handedness sometimes makes for clumsy cutting….or at least: bloody cutting.

Who knew that cooking dinner was such a blood sport??

After a yummy dinner courtesy of Mr. J grilling everything that couldn’t get away from us, I glanced over at him, my eyes dropping suggestively.

Every couple has a short-handed way of asking if their partner would like to mix it up between the sheets.

I spoke our code word to Mr. J.

He promptly burst out laughing.

WTH?

“No way,” he said. “Not given the day you’ve had.”

“Not even if I promise not to take the knife to bed?” I wheedled.

“No chance,” he said. “That is equipment I can’t afford to gamble with.”

Loser.

I am sure Sunday and Monday will be better.

Really.

2
May 20th, 2010

Have you ever gone to the grocery store and the checkout clerk is looking at you strangely as she rings up your purchases? I was at my local Trader Joe’s (love them: except the snotty check out girl) stocking up on a few of my favorite things:
• Six containers of hummus, various flavors
• 1 large “party size” salsa, mild
• 2 packages of black beluga lentils
• 1 bag of Thai Lime Pilaf.
• EnviroKidz Organic Peanut Butter Panda Puffs (give me a break: it was the only gluten free cereal they had and I was craving cereal)
• Almond milk, unsweetened chocolate

Now I admit I have a hummus fetish. And TJ’s has some of the best store bought hummus I’ve ever had. My new favorites include: Cilantro Jalapeño and Roasted Red Pepper. The Cilantro Jalepeno has just enough of a kick to make you want to have a 32 oz bottle of water handy. The Roasted Red Pepper is very mild but the color and taste remind me of Pimento Cheese which was one of my mother’s favorite spreads as I was growing up.

So the check out girl says, “You like hummus?”

Duh. I’m not buying it for the cats.

“How do you eat it?”

So many smart aleck comments came to mind. I settled for my standard answer, “With a spoon.”

“No,” she continued. “I mean what do you eat it on?”

I stared at her, not blinking. “A spoon. Why do you think I need six containers of it??”

Honestly. I mean: I get that it is an odd list of groceries. But it isn’t like she followed me to the liquor store (my next stop) and watched me pick up a bottle of Cask & Cream Caramel then followed me home and spied on me as I actually ate dinner from the fixings of my two stops.

If she’d seen me mixing Cask & Cream into my unsweetened chocolate milk and then pour it over the EnviroKidz Organic Peanut Butter Panda Puffs after spooning hummus up with broccoli florets – see I’m eating healthy here – maybe then she’d have been justified to look at me strange.

Know what I’m mean??

1