Exactly What She Needs

The other day I broke up with a Sponsee.

I knew it was probably coming. I did not feel I was meeting her needs.

Sometimes it is just not a match.

Still, it was really, really hard.

It is Thursday morning. I wake up early. I am still tired. I lie back down.

Rarely do I pick up the iPhone in between the get up, lie down maneuver. But today I do. Philly is already awake and I do not know where he is.

I text: Where you?

No answer.

I think: He is probably working on his music.

I notice I have a message from one of my Sponsees. Sponsee is one of my more difficult Sponsees. I believe there are issues other than addiction here. There is much spiraling. There is the occasional hurtling shame. Many red raving flags appear. I ignore them.

When we first meet, Sponsee tells me, “I push all my Sponsors away eventually.”

Somehow, I think I am exempt from this pushing away. I tell Sponsee, “Ok. I will be your Sponsor.”

Reader, I could stop this story right here. I bet you could write the ending.

When someone tells you who they are, BELIEVE THEM.

And so, on Thursday morning I open the message.

I start to read. I do not know why I keep reading. I read the whole thing. Line after line of blame and accusations and random attacks on my character.

I think: This after all the work I have done with her, all the messages listened to, holding space for her recovery.

Then I think: I do not know what to think.

I know this is the work of THE SPONSOR.

I know I am far, far from perfect. Yet at the end of this message she asks if we can still work together. In the way SHE wants to work together.

I sit there staring at the iPhone. I try reading the message again. I see message mish-mash.

The mish-mash message jumps from here to there and here to there turning and twisting and contradicting itself into a little mish-mash tornado.

I start to type a point-by-point response, picking apart each accusation. And then I stop. Actually, Higher Power stops me. Recovery stops me. Because OLD ME would have hurled that response right at Sponsee’s babbling head.

I REALLY want to send my inventory-taking of Sponsee message right off to Sponsee.

But OK I do not.

I do not because in recovery I have been taught to PAUSE.

I call out to the house to find where Philly is. I come out of the bedroom and I find him working on his music. I shove the iPhone in front of him. “Look!” I say. “Look at this!” I snatch the iPhone back before he can begin the reading of the message.

Instead, I read it out loud to him.

I finish reading.

Philly is just sitting there.

“WELL?” I say.

Do I have to tell him reader? Do I have to tell him? There are no words, there are no feelings allowed right here right now besides RAGE.

Clearly Philly is not mad enough. I go hunting around for someone who will share my outrage. In a brief moment of clarity, I pause to consider who the appropriate person would be.

“My Sponsor!” I say out loud to myself.

And I send her a text.

I do not hear back from Sponsor.

I wait.

Ok. I cannot wait. I message Program Friend. I tell her the whole story. Program Friend appropriately responds completely outraged.

“Can you believe it?” I ask.

Later I talk to Philly. I outline the damage. Philly is just shaking his head. He is ramping up. I can tell soon he too will be demonstrating the appropriate level of outrage.

I text Therapist. Since she is Therapist she tells me, “I could not get halfway through this. You need to disengage from this person.”

As you might notice by this point in our story, I require a lot of input in these kind of situations. This is to help make sure my head is actually screwed on straight.

Finally Sponsor texts: There is a lot to unpack here. Let me call you later.

Ok. Even though I hate it when people say UNPACK.

Meanwhile I figure: Hey, why not reach out to Very First Program Friend. VFPF has sponsored lots and lots of people in multiple programs. PLUS, she is a social worker! I send her a text. I tell her: I have a Sponsee situation. Call me if you can.

VFPF calls me and I pick right up. “Thank GOD!” I say. “I NEED you!” Since VFPF has amazing recovery, she gets quiet right away so I can go ahead and start letting my stuff leak out all over the place.

I tell her the WHOLE story.

Ok, I TRY to tell her the whole story. But when I get to line three, she stops me.

She says, “Why did you even read beyond here?”

“Ummm. I don’t know.” I say.

“Ok.” she says. “What if I were to speak to you this way?”

Before I can answer she asks, “Does this feel like abuse to you?”

“Yes.” I say.

“Do you think you deserve this abuse?”

“No.” I say.

“Does this have anything to do with the 12 Steps?” she asks.

“Not really.” I say.

Is she good or what? She is sooooo good.

Soon all my outreach efforts begin to come in. Sponsor calls. We go over Sponsee message. Sponsor asks me, “Why did this upset you so much?”

OMG.

Seriously?!

However, I know how Sponsor operates. We go line by line. She asks me to look for things that are actually TRUE. She asks me to honestly look at what I could have done differently. She asks me to look at what character defects of my own might be in operation here. I write a whole page of notes. I am starting to become exhausted.

I take a little break. I think: VFPF would not be spending this much energy on THE MESSAGE.

I begin to write the actual response I am intending to send. When I am done, Philly looks it over to give it THE PHILLY EYE.

This is always interesting because Philly and I have two very different styles of writing and response. I write. He re-arranges. This is also sometimes known as editing. But mostly it feels like completely re-arranging my writing.

He leans in and takes control of the mouse. Have you ever had this happen reader? You are just sitting there at your desk and suddenly your mouse is not your own.

It has been hijacked by HELPFUL PERSON.

Helpful Person is always very helpful. Helpful Person brings much clarity to messaging mish-mash. However, one must become comfortable with whole paragraphs being moved around.

FINALLY, with the help of all these people, finally, I am ready to send THE MESSAGE.

I do what I have been told to do by my Sponsor before taking ANY action.

I PAUSE.

I go upstairs to the SPIRITUAL ROOM. I light a candle on my altar. I sit quietly. I do a little cleansing ritual. I say a prayer to ask Higher Power to help me. I ask all my Goddesses and Guides and Ancestors to help me to take the next right action.

I am ready to send the message. I BOOKEND. This is when one calls or texts another person right before taking a difficult action. In this case SENDING.

I text Sponsor: Ok. I am sending the message.

She texts: Ok!

After I send the message, I pray to be able to turn it over and not try to snatch it back.

I have to let her go.

She was never mine to begin with.

I turn her over to her Higher Power.

The Sponsor/Sponsee relationship is not easy.

Sometimes it does not work out.

Even though I know this, I feel a little sad.

I have learned so much from being her Sponsor.

I hope she finds exactly what she needs.

I hope she finds exactly what she needs.

Look at that Squirrel

Last night I was bored.

This happens a lot now since I am in the house so often.

Well, ok, it happens whether I am confined to the house or not.

Philly and I have thought up a lot of interesting COVID games here in confinement. Some of them we think up late at night. Late at night is my crazy time. This is because my cortisol is reversed.

Did you know this reader? It is true.

This means when most people are sleepy, I am wide awake. 9PM is when I like to really ramp it up. It is a problem because this is exactly the time Philly likes to wind it down.

Sometimes I jump on him in the kitchen and he just stands there straight as a stick. I can tell he wants me off him. But I jump around anyway. He does not seem to enjoy this jumping.

I have had to change my strategy for nighttime funning.

“Hey!” I say. “Do you want to FUN?”

Philly looks at me. I can see his whole-body groan.

“I was just about to wind down.” he says.

“Ok.” I say. “How about we play: What’s my sentence?”

Philly looks at me.

He looks at me for a long time.

And then he says, “Six to Ten.”

“What?” I say. “Six to Ten? What kind of sentence is that?”

“Like years.” he says.

I have to think about this for a while. And then I remember. Philly is an ATTORNEY.

“Oh!” I say. “NOW I get it.”

I can see I am going to have to explain the “What’s my sentence?” game to him.

I tell him, “No, no, no! Not like a prison sentence. You know, it is based on a thing you always say.”

Still, Philly does not seem to understand.

“Here.” I say. “I will go first.”

“Ok.” he says.

I tell him, “This is your sentence”: I am not sure I agree with that.

Philly laughs. Because he knows it is true. Philly is a debater. Philly likes to see THE OTHER SIDE of things.

You can imagine how much FUN it can be when one is living in close quarters for eleven months with a DEBATER.

“Ok.” I say. “What is my sentence?”

I am waiting. But no words are coming.

I think maybe he is scared to tell me.

“Come on!” I say. “SAY IT!”

He says, “Ok. Your sentence is: What’s my life about?

Haha!

This is true. I do wander around the house in circles saying this.

“My turn!” I say to Philly.

And the back and forth continues. Each one telling the other one the most heard sentences over these eleven months.

I tell Philly what he says: Who am I to think I can teach anyone anything?

Philly tells me what I say: Let’s watch funny TikToks!

I tell Philly what he says: I am not done with my sentence.

Philly tells me what I say: I am not done with my sentence.

We have now entered the zone where this little game could easily take a wrong turn.

I tell Philly what he says: Look at that squirrel.

Philly tells me what I say: Do you want to FUN?

I tell Philly what he says: Look at that moon.

Philly tells me what I say: Where did I leave my phone?

I tell Philly what he says: Let me live!

Philly tells me what I say: Oh look, the cabinet door is open again.

Then I say something that I do not remember what it is. This thing said is not pleasing to Philly.

I turn and see the familiar DOUR face.

“Come on!” I say. “Don’t be a funsucker!”

This does not make the situation any better.

I run around the room laughing like a balloon losing air and throw myself on the ground. I make a big air-out-of-balloon sound when I land.

Ok, I am cracking myself up.

I think maybe this will return our game to funny again.

Philly on the other hand has clearly exited this game.

“Oh boo.” I say. And I get up of the floor.

“You are not REALLY a funsucker.” I say.

I do not think he believes me.

I tell him, “Tomorrow we can play a new game!”

Tomorrow our game will be “Name a thing you love about me!”

Now he smiles.

That Philly. He is my guy. For eleven months here in this house.

Yeah.

Sliding into Humility

The other day daughter arrived to spend the holidays here in Philadelphia.

I am very excited to see her. Daughter will be here for eleven whole days!

Maybe we will even get a chance to make a TikTok!

Daughter is set to arrive in a few hours. Before she arrives I rush off to the dentist. I rush off to the dentist because my temporary cap has completely crumbled.

Reader, this happens EVERY TIME with this dentist.

I have not had this experience in my life with previous dentists.

I do not know what he is using to make the temporary caps, but clearly it is not working.

My appointment is at 5:45PM. When I enter the office I am called right back to the DENTAL POD. Dental Assistant looks in my mouth to see what is happening with the temporary cap.

“There’s not much left of it is there?” she asks.

“Not really.” I say.

Then I say, “You know this always happens.”

“What happens?” Dental Assistant asks.

“Dr. Anonymous puts on the temporary cap and it falls off.” I say.

Dental Assistant does not say anything. But I can tell she knows something.

Soon, Dr. Anonymous comes into the DENTAL POD. “How’s it going?” he asks

“Actually, not that good.” I say. “My cap crumbled.” Then I say, “This always happens!”

He takes a look.

“Don’t worry.” he says. “We will get you fixed up so that cap will not be coming off again. This time we will use (OTHER THING).”

OTHER THING?

Wait. Wait. This time we will use OTHER THING??

Seriously?

Why the hell did we not use OTHER THING to begin with? Especially since every other temporary cap installed in my mouth by this office has either fallen off or crumbled to bits. In days.

I say, “Why did we not use OTHER THING to begin with?”

Crickets.

I guess OTHER THING is the more expensive thing.

Dr. Anonymous leaves the room as Dental Assistant mixes up mysterious OTHER THING. A few minutes and I get the new and improved OTHER THING cap installed.

“Ok.” I say. “See you soon.”

As I am walking out of the office I get a text. It is daughter.

She texts: I am almost at 30th Street.

I text: What?? You said you were coming in at 7:30.

She texts: I said 6:30.

I text: No, you said 7:30.

She texts: The train left at 5:10.

I guess I was supposed to calculate this.

I do not feel like having a fight to start off our visit.

I say, “I do not feel like having a fight to start off our visit.”

“Ok.” she says.

I review the text thread anyway to see if I made a mistake on the Daughter pick-up time.

I find my text: When will you be arriving tomorrow?

I find her answer: 7:30 I think.

(—–)

Is it worth it? No, it is not.

We volley back and forth on if she should take an Uber to the house or wait until Philly drives in to pick her up. I am thinking she will want to take an Uber. However, Daughter would rather wait for Philly for the pick-up.

“I’ll wait.” she says.

“Ok.” I say.

Philly leaves to pick up daughter and in 30 minutes he returns. I do not know how he does this. He is fast.

I am sitting at the laptop and I hear Daughter and Philly coming up the walk. Zelda begins to bark and jump up and down wildly. I think she knows it is Daughter walking up to the house.

The door opens and Zelda beats me in the race to Daughter’s side. I wait for my chance to snuggle. When the opening comes, I swoop right in.

“Daughter!” I say. And I give her a hug.

“Hi mom.” she says. And she puts her bags down. One of which is my suitcase, which has now become her suitcase, as these things do with mothers and daughters. Certain items and pieces of clothing seem to go missing. It is usually too late when the mother notices the item is missing. Mothers only have one round of laundry in which to discover the missing item they did not know even know was missing. After that, the mother loses possession.

It is kind of like an apartment lease. Or maybe football.

Anyway, Daughter comes in and we all sit down on the GREEN COUCH to get caught up on recent events. Daughter is not that hungry and so we do not really have a dinner. She tells us some funny stories about the kids she tutors and shows us the app listing all the furniture you can find on the streets of NYC.

“Wow!” I say. “This is so much better than having to hope for the best as you scour the streets of New York City.”

Next we are on to the Daughter music sharing. This is an event we pretty much always have we Daughter is here. New releases played loudly through the speakers in our Living Room. She starts with Flo Milli. Is Flo Milli new? I do not know Flo Milli.

Pretty soon we are moving RETRO to Backstreet Boys.

“Mom.” she says. “Remember this?”

“Oh MY GOD YES!” I say. Because Daughter and Son burned this song into my brain forever.

Eventually we are doing funny dances around the Living Room. Yes, I have the videos, thanks to Philly, who documents pretty much everything.

In a while we collapse on the floor. Daughter lets me get in close for the floor snuggle. This is an opportunity one must seize as soon as it is offered by one’s grown child.

I pounce.

This floor cuddle situation is delicious, no matter how old one’s child gets.

When we get up Daughter shares some of her TikToks with us. Some of these TikToks are funny when you are a Gen Z person. Otherwise you might not know what they are talking about.

Daughter’s TikToks are very different than my TikToks. Which are mostly funny parenting jokes. Daughter does not find my TikToks very funny, for the most part.

Philly is not a fan of TikToks at all. I send them to him anyway.

Now it is getting late. TikTok time is over. I can tell Philly is relieved. It really is time for bed, but we stay up a little longer anyway. I do not care if I have to teach in the morning. I am having fun with Daughter and Philly.

As the evening comes to a close, I think about how much I miss these little day-to-day interactions with Daughter. And how much I am enjoying witnessing her grow into her adult life.

It is a privilege and an honor to be here, now. The life of a parent does not end at age 21. There is so much more. So much more. When I am paying attention. When she feels like sharing, I get a window into places I did not even know existed.

When I was a younger mother of Daughter, I guess I thought I knew it all.

HAHAHAHA!

Yeah.

Growing into an older parent is funny like that.

A smack in the face of superiority and a slide into humility.

EVERY DAY

Yesterday was December 11.

It is almost 9 months from the day COVID 19 caused businesses to shut down here. Which means Philly and I now work from home.

Together, every day.

EVERY DAY.

Perhaps you have been in the house with your partner. Or alone. Or with small children. Or TEENAGERS. And you have begun to experience the PHASES OF COVID.

I think we are doing pretty well here. I have my ZOOM yoga studio in the room formally known as the Dining Room. Philly has his SKYPE office in the room formally known as the Living Room. Every day that I teach yoga, Philly sets up lights, sound and staging. He is the producer.

Still in the last few weeks I am agitated. Have you felt this way reader? Agitated?

I may have hit my quota on number of days in a row I can spend consecutively in a house with one other person.

I write this and I feel terrible. I feel terrible because I am complaining about my luxury problems, and people are really sick. And really dying. And have no food. And are in way more difficult circumstances than me.

Mostly, here, we do not go anywhere. Well, except maybe Philly goes to the co-op and I go to the Rite Aid. I go to Rite Aid A LOT. In fact, I am a GOLD Wellness Rewards member. They know my name and everything. It is like if you have a favorite bar you frequent where people know your name. You know, like CHEERS. But since I do not drink, I just have a favorite Rite Aid store now.

And so we are trying to entertain ourselves here and each other. We try to experiment with things in the house. Well, at least I do. Philly is a more content kind of person. He can sit and read for hours.

Tonight I experiment with taking the air freshener and running around the house, spraying it into the air while I make WAHOOO! noises.

WAHOOOOOOO!

WAHHHHOOOOOOO!

Soon I start to cough.

Philly says, “Great. Now it smells like a Greyhound bus bathroom in here.”

I take a sniff. “Yes!” I say. “It really does!”

I am drowning in the FRESH LINEN fragrance permeating our home. I scramble towards the door.

“Oh my GOD!” I say. And I run over to the front door and throw open the screen.

I return to writing this blog. Philly is on his side of the wall. I am on my side. There are two arches between us.

He says something but I do not know what he has said. “I cannot hear you.” I say. “I am on the other side of the wall.”

Philly says, “The metaphorical wall.”

I say, “No. It is a real wall.”

This is what nine months of being together in the same house all the time can do to people.

Arguments about walls.

Somewhere around month six I tell Philly, “I think you need to get your hearing checked. I have to keep repeating myself.”

I am not sure why, but this is an INSULT to Philly.

“I don’t need to have my hearing checked.” he says.

Like he knows this could not possibly be true.

“Ok.” I say. “But in the last few months I am having to repeat myself more and more. OR whole chunks of what I say are just missing.”

Right now, RIGHT NOW, he tells me, “Well, you have gotten more chatty.”

Ok now it is MY fault.

!!!!!!!!!!!

“No.” I say. “It is just you are here all the time. I am the same chatty as I always have been.”

Then I say, “So what then? You are not listening because I am saying too many words?”

“It is not that I am not listening.” he says. “It is more like I need to filter out the important parts.”

“I guess your filter kind of sucks then, eh?” I say. “Because last night I asked you to wake me up in the morning if I was not up by 8:30. And you did not.”

Ok. OK! I know I should have set my own alarm.

Yes, I am airing out my dirty laundry. I am Italian. That’s what I do.

Clearly, we have moved into the 13th Stage of COVID over here:

.

Stage 1: Happiness you do not need to go to work. Unless you do need to go to work.

Stage 2: Disbelief. Is this really happening? Anxiety. Wait. I need to work.

Stage 3: Fear. Looking for other signs of Armageddon.

Stage 4: Attempting to find toilet paper. Hand sanitizer. Soap. Rubbing alcohol. Masks.

Stage 5: Maniacally watching the news and worrying as NYC goes into a terrifying spiral.

Stage 6: Developing strange new nervous habits.

Stage 7: Starting to have disagreements with family members about things like mask wearing. And the reality of certain news reports.

Stage 8: Not talking to the above-mentioned people.

Stage 9: Watching business after business close down for good.

Stage 10: Starting to get depressed as you forget what day it is. And you see pictures of all the essential workers. And you see the virus spreading wildly around the world. And you start to know people who are sick with COVID. And people who have died of it. And crying happens every day.

Stage 11: Attempting to find interesting things to do indoors. Over and over again.

Stage 12: COVID Fatigue. Considering doing things you know you should not do.

And… Stage 13: Beginning to get restless and agitated. Having nowhere to go with this since you have been forced into bi-solation, you begin to tell your loved one(s) everything that annoys you about them. Even if you never noticed these things before.

Somehow, now these once small or possibly unnoticed behaviors are GLARING.

Anyway, next day I come down the stairs and throw my hands in the air. “This place is a mess! Why is this blanket over here? I pick up a hat on a chair. Does this go here?” I ask. And before Philly has a chance to answer, I answer my own question. “No, it does not. It does not belong here.” I grab the hat and stomp off to the wall hooks where we hang such things.

I know I am driving him crazy with my slightly insane need for tidiness. I try to lean back and not say anything. Apparently, I cannot.

Later, Philly is talking to me about music, because I asked him a question about music.

He asks, “Did you hear what I said?”

“Yes.” I say. “I heard what you said.”

He looks at me. “Could I get some acknowledgement?”

“Didn’t I ask you about the guitars?” I say.

“Yes.” he tells me. “It just sounded like a judgement.”

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!

I feel like running around the house in circles screaming: I cannot get anything right! I cannot get anything right!

I begin making tasking lists in a frantic attempt to gain some illusion of control.

You might imagine how Philly just LOVES this daily listing of things to do.

He tells me, “I am watching my time slowly draining away.”

I also begin a nightly routine of jumping around the living room making various noises to get all the extra energy out. Once in awhile Philly joins in. But mostly he just looks at me like I am an insane person. Sometimes he says, “Who ARE you?”

I tell him, “I am going to go stay at a Bed and Breakfast somewhere! I have to get out of here!”

I do not think I can really do this. But I do not know what to do anymore. I am a peeled raw reactor to everything. I need to sleep for six months.

The sleeping thing is not really a viable solution. Being a recovery kind of person, I use the tool of affirming my partner regularly. At least I try to do this. To remember to tell him all the things I admire about him and all the things I am thankful for and appreciate.

Also, I make a gratitude list:

Having my health

Philly and all his wonderful qualities

All my program friends who support me

Being able to help people in need

ZOOM

ZOOM yoga

ZOOM meetings

Yoga Friends and other friends

Sponsors and sponsees

Getting to spend each day with Philly. Yeah, I know.

Talking with my children

Talking with my parents

Having food on the table

Zelda

TikTok

All the many people out there working everyday through this pandemic

Science

Sanitation system

A lot more gratitudes exist I am sure I am missing, but I know they are there.

How are you reader? Are you feeling agitated too?

Maybe you could make a gratitude list.

I take a big deep breath. I sigh it out.

These two sentences I will not take for granted ever again.

The Pre-Thanksgiving Visit

The other weekend the family came to visit.

Son and Wife, Daughter and Wife’s Brother.

The family is coming for early Thanksgiving gathering. I am very excited to see them. In fact, my excitement is making me so excited that I need to write this blog. Which is really saying something since I have not been moved to write anything lately.

Perhaps you can relate reader. Sometimes the world is so heavy and the overhead psychic energy so dense that no words can come out.

That is how it has been.

Weighted.

And I am happy to be here at the laptop, typing a few words here on this page.

My old friend, the page.

So, the family will come. I plan on cleaning up the house and especially the glasses and utensils. We are just not really known for our sparkling cutlery around here. I KNOW. I know. It is kind of a problem when guests come to visit. We SHOULD do a better job of washing. But washing is so boring. And anyway it is just me and Philly here now in the Philly House.

And Zelda. But she does not use utensils.

Anyway, I do not know how it got to this point of untidy. I used to be better. When I lived in the same apartment as son I was careful not to cross contaminate, which meant REALLY washing kitchen items.

In the Philly House front room, once known as DINING ROOM, is now the COVID Yoga Studio, lighting and all. The Family will not be dining there. Instead we will be having a picnic on the Living Room floor.

Just like old times.

Wife’s Brother drives AND has a car. He will be driving the whole crew down from NYC.

He is a good man.

Did I mention son is learning to drive? It is true. I myself have not seen son drive since he is learning in Queens from Father-in-law. I hear Father-in-law is a very good driver.

Son and daughter see each other once a week now, since they both live in New York. This makes me happy. I knew I wanted another child after son was born. I wanted to have two children, not too far apart in age, so there could be a relationship between them.

A close relationship I hoped. My brother and I are nine years apart, with the death of my other brother between. Nine years is a big spread. It was hard to have a relationship with a two-year-old when you are eleven years old.

Hence my wish to have two children not too far apart in age.

And this wish came true. Daughter was born three and a half years after son was born. When they were younger, friends would always comment, “Your children seem so close to each other.”

Now they are grown. Foraging ahead in their lives. Getting new jobs. Cooking things.

Meanwhile we are here discovering TikTok.

Ok. Well it is mostly me with the TikTok.

TikTok is my new favorite thing. TikTok time is always at the end of the night. This is so I can go to bed laughing.

I say to Philly, “It is TikTok time!”

Philly is less enthusiastic about TikTok. He is more a fan of binge-watching CNN.

Silence.

“Ok.” he says. “I will give you ten minutes.”

“Oh come on!” I say. “I watched CNN for like AN HOUR with you!”

This is marriage in quarantine reader.

Anyway, yes, Philly and I have really been letting it go around here, since Dining Room has become YOGA STUDIO and Living Room has become THE OFFICE.

This is work in quarantine.

Eventually the whole house gets to be piles of papers and props and unwashed coffee cups.

And so, we clean. We make ready the house for the family.

When we are done we say, “That was fun!” Before we go upstairs we have a little ice cream. We fill up the bowl. As we head into the Living Room and I turn off the over-stove light.  I go into the Living Room. I have forgotten the spoons. I head back into the kitchen.

The over-stove light is back on.

“Did you turn the over-stove light back on?” I ask

“Yes.” he says.

He ALWAYS does this with the light.

“But we are done in here. We are no longer in this room” I say.

Philly shrugs.

I turn the light back off.

I say, “It is bedtime for the stove.”

Philly laughs.

We finish our ice cream.

And we go to sleep.

Next day comes and we start the preparations. We have made the decision to order the lunch food. Son has requested Korean food. The morning goes by quickly. I tell Philly, “We should put the food order in now.”

This is not an easy task. We call the restaurant. Nice Lady answers the phone. We try but we cannot correctly pronounce any of the dishes. It takes us three rounds of going back and forth with Nice Lady on the phone to get our order together.

“Phew.” I say. “I hope that works out ok.”

Philly leaves go get the food.

In the meantime, Daughter texts me from the car: Is the food there? I am very hungry.

I text: Philly has left to go and get the food.

Daughter texts:   : )

Not too long and THE FAMILY arrives. Soon after Philly arrives with five bags of Korean food.

He puts the bags down. We all immediately tear into bags. There are so many containers we need to use the side bench AND a little bed tray.

Since Wife’s Brother is a sports kind of guy, he finds sporty things to watch on the television for all of us. Philly really appreciate his choice in television programming as entertainment for the whole family. I have not spent much time with Wife’s Brother, but I am discovering more and more he is a very smart young man.

We eat. We eat dessert. Wife has brought homemade, dairy and nut free chocolate ginger cookies. To add to the dairy and nut free after lunch treats, we have purchased vegan cupcakes from the co-op.

After we eat up all the food, we play a board game. Son and Wife are big on the board games. They are also very, very good at playing the board games. And they are competitive. And they are smart.

Mostly, they win.

I ask Wife if Son is as competitive as he seems. Wife affirms this fact. The more time I spend around Wife, the more I get little windows into her many faceted personality. I think she is perfect for son.

Next we play UNO. Son says UNO is the game that never ends. Daughter wins. Luckily, I manage to exit next. Then Philly. Son and Wife’s Brother are playing. And playing. And finally they just give up.

I think. I really stopped paying attention.

Daughter shows me her new boots. She is very tall in them. She asks me if I would also like a pair.

“Try them on!” she says.

I try them on. I feel slender. I tell her, “I think I will buy a pair!”

But I am not sure if I really should because where would I wear them? My job does not require shoes.

Soon the visit is over. We pack up the extra food for The Family to take home. I am very grateful they have all come to visit, and especially to Wife’s Brother for driving the whole gang from NYC to Philly.

We walk out to the car as they are climbing in to head back.

And we stand on the side watching as they pull out.

As usual, I feel sad to see them go.

I wish I could see I could see them more.

Maybe someday.

For now I am just glad we got to be together today.

Do Not Walk Out On This Sacred Moment

This weekend daughter came for a visit.

I am very excited to see her. I tidy up the house. I make sure the sheets are clean, and in this flurry of Daughter expectation, I also wash the Zelda the dog. And put a little lavender on her, just for good measure.

Daughter REALLY likes Zelda the dog. And Zelda REALLY likes daughter.

So Friday night comes and daughter arrives on the Megabus. It is late when she gets to the Philadelphia House. As soon as she walks in Zelda jumps right up on her.

“Hello!” Daughter says to Zelda.

“Hello!” Zelda says in dog language. Which is Zelda jumping up and down like a pogo stick for one minute straight.

Daughter puts her items of travel down near the front door.

I know where she is headed.

She walks right into the kitchen and opens the refrigerator and says, “I’m hungry.”

Which makes sense since she has just come off a long bus ride.

I hope we have something she will like.

Luckily some acceptable item of leftover is found in refrigerator.

Phew.

It is late and I have to teach in the morning. And so we go to bed.

Next day comes and we are all down in the kitchen. Daughter, Philly and me. We are foraging around for breakfast.

I turn on the sink. Okay, yes, I know it is a faucet. But I call it THE SINK.

I do not know if I mentioned here in this blog that we now have a very fancy faucet since our old one died. The new faucet is black and kind of looks like a bicycle lock or maybe something you would use to work on the underside of a car.

It is very complicated with a button on the side and a lever and a spiral cord around it and a kind of lock so you can lock in the nozzle or let it fly free. You know, in case you want to wash a small white dog in the sink.

Anyway, I turn on the sink. I wash a dish. I turn back around and I start pushing the button. But the sink is not turning off. And I keep pushing one way and then another, and one way and then another. But it is not shutting off.

I look at Daughter. I say, “I cannot get the sink to shut off!”

I am still wildly flipping the button back and forth.

Daughter is looking at me like I have lost my mind.

I do not know why she is looking at me like this.

Philly walks over and says, “Have you tried this?” and he pulls the lever over to shut off the sink.

Which is one of those regular looking faucet turn-on-water, turn-off-water type things.

Philly looks at me with one of those one-raised-eyebrow looks, even though he is not raising any eyebrows. Behind me daughter is cracking up. “MOM!” she says, still laughing. “You are scaring me!”

I am just standing speechless at the sink because I REALLY did not know how to shut off the sink.

“There are too many options on this sink!” I say.

Ok, then I start laughing.

Even if it is a little frightening that I forgot how to turn off the sink.

Later we go to the co-op to get items for daughter to make the dinner. As we are getting ready to leave the house Daughter says, “It is chilly.” And she looks for a jacket on the coat hooks near the door.

This looking at the possible jacket selection is dangerous reader. This is how many of the jackets that once lived in this house have gone “missing.”

Daughter says, “Oh! This is a nice jacket!” And picks up Philly’s brown corduroy jacket. “It would be a shame if it just disappeared.”

“No!” I say. “No, no, no. DO NOT take that jacket!”

“Ok. Ok!” she says. But Philly and I know we better keep a close watch on the brown jacket.

We hop in the KIA and we drive to the co-op. Daughter is making pesto tortellini. We get yellow squash and tomatoes and garlic and spinach and zucchini. Daughter likes to cook now. So does son. I don’t know how it happened that both of these people turned out to be cookers. I am not a cooker. Actually, maybe this is why they are cookers.

When we get home, the cooking begins.

We are going to have dinner and a movie right here in the living room! While Daughter is doing the cooking I ask her, “Do your roommates cook?”

And she says, “Well, they do things with pans.”

HAHA. Roommate humor.

Soon we sit down to eat. But before we eat we must choose THE MOVIE.

Did I mention Daughter is quite into the world of film? She always wants us to watch a movie with her when she visits.

And there are rules to movie-watching with Daughter:

You cannot pick up your phone for any reason during the movie.

There is no talking.

You must watch the WHOLE movie, even if you really want to go to sleep.

She picks out 19 different movies for us to choose from. Mostly I do not care for movies. But Daughter does. Daughter cares a lot. And so even though I feel like doing other things, I think to myself: Don’t walk out on this sacred moment.

Ok I am a bit overwhelmed. Luckily, Daughter guides me in the choices. We watch the trailers. One by one we cross movie choices off the list. Some of the movies are immediately eliminated because they are just too long for my limited attention span.

Finally, we get down to the final two: Parasite and A Marriage Story. We decide on Parasite.

I don’t know how but somehow we wind up watching the OTHER movie.

OK.

This movie makes me cry. It makes me cry because it is about a divorce including a child. I cry and I look at daughter sitting next to me on the green couch.

“Can I have a hug?” I ask.

“Ok.” she says.

I start moving towards her, but it seems like we are both heading for the same side.

“Which way are you going here?” Daughter asks.

I laugh. I laugh because I remember hugs and the kisses on the lips of very small children.

We find our way around each other and we hug. I whisper some things in daughter’s ears about missing her and other mushy things, which are probably too much because I can be like that.

Daughter pulls back a little and says, “Ok. That’s enough.”

I guess MUSHY TIME has its limits.

After the movie I start to get the SLEEPY HAHAS. I start jumping around daughter and making fun noises and acting like a chicken. Philly is in the kitchen where we actually have a row of wooden chickens on top of the stove. If you jump around enough they bounce up and down and sound just like real chickens. But I guess that is another story.

Daughter says, “Go help Philly. Take this energy elsewhere.”

I hop off to the kitchen.

While I am in there I accidentally put my phone in the fridge.

I know, right?

Daughter comes in and opens the fridge. She says, “Did you know you left your phone in the fridge?” She also gives me the raised eyebrow look, again without actually raising an eyebrow. And for extra disbelief, a little shaking of the head.

Clearly it is time for sleeping. I find my way upstairs to bed.

Next day comes and Philly and Daughter are going to do some basement recording. Daughter wants to sing Is There Something in Movies? By Samia. I think it will be a good fit for her voice.

Down they go into the Blue Basement Recording Studio.

I am planning to go on a little adventure while they record. I am going to get a massage from my friend the massage therapist.

Do not judge me.

While they are in the basement, the TREE GUYS come to trim the tremendous trees in our yard. The Tree Guys are coming to our house because the trees here are very large and frightening. They scare me reader. They fall on houses and cars all the time.

I am not exaggerating.

I am not sure how the recording will work with all the tree trimming.

Somehow it works out.

I get home and the recording is done. The Tree Guys are done. Daughter and I are in the kitchen. Philly is coming up from the basement.

I walk into the living room and I see Zelda the dog standing on the porch outside the front door.

“How did you get out there?” I say as I open the door to let Zelda back into the house.

Philly says, “Did you put her out there?”

“No.” I say. “I was in the kitchen.”

He looks at me. Again with the raised-eyebrow-not-raised-eyebrow look, which seems to be popular around here lately.

“I did not put her out there!” I say. I know he thinks I did put her out there and I have just forgotten that I put her out there, which could happen since my memory is questionable lately.

“Daughter?” I ask.

“Nope.” she says. “I was in the kitchen.”

This is the first of a few strange happenings around the house after the tree cutting is done.

I am thinking we need to make an offering to the Land Spirits.

Then Philly tells me, “While you were out Daughter and I were sitting in the living room when we heard a loud POP! We looked but we could not figure out where it came from. And then a glass of water practically jumped out of daughter’s hands and went crashing to the ground.”

Apparently, the pull of gravity has in increased on this day.

We DEFINITELY need to make some offerings tonight.

Soon it is time to take Daughter to the bus. The sad feeling comes, as it always does. We pull up to the curb and I get out to give daughter a hug goodbye.

“It was a nice visit.” I say.

“Yes.” she says.

I watch her walk over to the bus line. I feel grateful for the time with her, sacred and profound.

On the way home I ask Philly, “Are we going to make offerings to the Land Spirits? I really think we should make offerings to the Land Spirits.”

“Yes.” he says.

When we get home I go and get some coffee beans and fresh water. I walk out to the trees that have been cut. I visit each one. I make a little offering at the tree feet. I also visit my special ancestors’ altar in the back of the house. I put a little water in the cup and give thanks for the gift of, and the protection of my children.

Philly will make his offerings later. Right now he is taking a picture of the Buddha statue we have in our yard. Buddha sits on a garden bench. There is a little battery-operated candle at the Buddha feet. Vines grow around the top of the bench. Around the bottom there is a kind of circle of plants. I think the Land Spirits would like this spot.

I watch him take the pictures. I think of the altar Daughter has created in her room. She sent me a picture. It is beautiful and subtle and the creation of a 22-year-old young woman.

I am ready to go back inside.

Philly is taking a few more pictures.

I turn to walk in the house.

But then I do not.

I turn and I think: Do not walk out on this sacred moment.

Do not walk out on this sacred moment.

As I finish this blog, Philly is downstairs in The Blue Basement Studio, working on the song Daughter recorded with him. Her voice wafts up the stairs like a little cloud of sweet incense circling around me. I am so lucky.

It Could Be Anybody’s Story

The other night Philly’s nephew went missing.

Nephew has a long history of Opiate abuse.

Nephew has been in and out of rehabs.

Many people have tried to help.

And so, we know what the outcome of missing may be.

I am grateful I have been around 12 step rooms long enough to know: I did not cause it. I cannot change it. And I cannot cure it.

Reader, you cannot wrestle with the disease of addiction. You will not win.

I look over and I see Philly is sitting at the desk with his head in his hands. And like the addict, he is powerless over this thing.

I was intending to write this blog tonight about recovery, anyway.

And then this thing happened, here, now, with Nephew.

So, I pause.

I consider what I will write here. I decide I will tell a story of recovery, condensed. In honor of Nephew. I will share my experience, strength and hope.

It happens to be my story. But it is not about me. It could be anybody’s story. As we say in the rooms of recovery: What it was like, what happened, and what it is like now.

It is many years ago and I am a younger, wild Violet. Quite young. 13 years old. I meet people who give me access when I enter Junior High School. That’s where it starts. My life very quickly becomes unmanageable.

They say weed is not a gateway drug.

That’s what they say.

I will spare you the rather hideous and dangerous spiral of deepening drug and alcohol abuse. I am sure you have heard the stories, seen the movies. The movies, the stories…these things will give you a very good idea of “what it was like”. I am disappearing for stretches at a time. I take whatever I can get my hands on. I run away to Buffalo in 11th grade on a Greyhound bus with $70 to my name and a bag of mescaline (a story saved for another blog perhaps).

I have no idea how my parents are managing to sleep at night. I do not even consider this sleeping fact until much later when I have my own children.

Three weeks later my parents manage to find me and beg me to come home. I have run out of money and mescaline, so I go home.

Life goes on. Many, MANY opportunities slip through my fingers, unnoticed. It is only later I can see these missed opportunities. Tiny treasures overlooked on this timeline of my life.

That is what it was like.

Then there is the “what happened” part. What happens is I begin to blow up my life, piece by piece. People are hurt. Sweet relationships destroyed. I do not care. I do not feel anything at this point in my life. I cannot see clearly. I think I am doing just fine.

This is because I am what we call a “high functioning” addict. Actually, I am a mess.

My sober friend, the friend who I now lovingly refer to as Friend 1, she knows. She knows I am a mess. She keeps asking, “Why don’t we go to a meeting together tonight?”

And I would say no.

And I would say no.

And I would say no.

I am far too busy for meetings, anyway.

And then suddenly, I am laid off from my hifalutin career. My work that gave me my identity. My status. My work that was part of the things in my life I had begun to blow up. Perhaps it was not so suddenly I was laid off.

I could not use busyness as an excuse. I did not know it at the time, but I had just hit my bottom.

Hitting a bottom is a necessary occurrence for many to get clean and sober.

So I say to Friend 1, “Oh ALLRIGHT! I will go to a meeting!”

And so off we go.

This is not my first meeting ever. A number of years ago I had gone to a couple of meetings. Mostly I just show up here and there and dump my stuff out and leave. No sponsor. No step work. No solution.

I go this time again. We sit down in the metal folding chairs that are being set up by someone. I think this is this person’s job. I later realize this is this person’s service position.

Service. This word alone is pivotal for me.

Service? What the hell? They are doing it for free? And another person making the coffee. And another chairing the meeting. And someone is responsible for group literature. I must look completely confused because an old-timer comes up to me and says, “You know, you can’t keep it if you don’t give it away.”

It takes me a while to really figure out what he means by this.

When the meeting is over, Friend 1 asks if I would like to come to another meeting with her the next day.

“Like tomorrow?” I say. Because I was just at a meeting TODAY.

“Yes.” she says.

“Ok.” I say, because I have heard some good things at the meeting and really, what else do I have to do since I have no job now.

Next day comes and we go to the meeting. This is a different meeting. I like it better than the first meeting. I hear many things I can relate to.

Actually, it is a little scary, all this relating.

I learn I am supposed to do 90 meetings in 90 days.

Inside I think: HAHAHAHA!

The next day comes and I go to a different meeting. There is something about these people. They are so real, so honest. And finally, like I never have in my life, I feel like I belong. In a flash of light I get the GIFT OF DESPERATION. I realize I cannot go on living my life the way I have been living my life.

I find out what a sponsor is and I get a sponsor. She is the speaker at a meeting I attend. I like what she says and so I ask her, “Will you be my sponsor?” I feel like I am asking someone to marry me. Ugh.

Thankfully, she says yes.

We start right away with Step One: We admitted we were powerless over our addiction and our lives had become unmanageable. We focus on the first two words: WE ADMITTED.

I cannot do this alone.

And I must surrender. I have this thing.

Sponsor tells me to stay sober I need to “fellowship” and go out for coffee afterwards with people from the meeting – to get to know other people and to let them get to know me. To widen my circle of support. I do not feel like doing this. I do not want to let people get to know me. Mostly I just want to go to the meeting and then run away.

But ok, I do not run away.

Sponsor tells me, “Anyone can GET sober. The trick is to STAY sober.” Then she says, 90 meetings in 90 days.” At this point I am mostly just dragging my carcass around taking suggestions, so I say, “Ok.”

We dig in. Sponsor gives me suggestions and I push back. I do not feel like taking them, but I take them anyway. She says, “Your best thinking got you here.” And, “If you want what I have, do what I do.”

“Oh ALLRIGHT!” I say. God! Sponsor is making me call her every day! Later I realize how ridiculously selfish it is of me to complain about a person volunteering to listen to my crap every day. For FREE.

We keep going. I make my 90 days! This is a miracle. I am determined to do my FOURTH STEP by the end of my first year.

Step Four: Made a Fearless and Searching Moral Inventory of Ourselves.

I LOVE this step! I get to write down all my resentments! Woo!

I turn this over to Sponsor. This turning over is my Step Five. I am so excited because now we are on Step Six!

But then the unthinkable happens. Sponsor moves away.

Now I am Sponsor-less.

I am slightly terrified. By now I am really beginning to see a new life unfolding in front of me. I listen in meetings for a possible new sponsor. I hear someone speaking and I want what she has. Even though I am freaking out, I run up to her and ask, “Will you be my Sponsor?”

Sometimes one has to wait for an answer to this question.

Thankfully I do not have to wait. New Sponsor smiles and says, “Yes.”

I ask her what we should do first. I tell her I am on Step Six.

New Sponsor looks at me and says, “We will be starting from Step One.”

OMG!

Inside I think: Nooooooooooooooo! No No No! I am on Step Six! Six Six Six!

Outside I say, “Do we have to? I mean I JUST did Step Four and Five.”

“Yes.” New Sponsor says. “If I am going to help you, I need to know who you are now.”

For God’s sake! This has foiled my whole STEP TIMELINE PLAN.

Whatever. I go back to Step One.

Time passes. I get honest with New Sponsor. Rigorous honesty is a must in this place. It is very, very hard for me to be this honest. I mean really, REALLY honest. But it is the only way. And so I do it. Even though I would much rather keep my secrets, secret.

Soon, I get Sponsees. People newer than me that I can help work through the steps. People I can pass along what has been so freely given to me. I feel like a grown up now because I am a SPONSOR!

This PASS IT ON experience is one of the greatest gifts of the program. The opportunity to help others. I feel a shift begin to happen. It is strange how I thought my story was not that bad. But as the years go by and my awareness grows, so does the depth of my story. I realize I am lucky to be alive.

More time passes. I learn to take responsibility for my life. I learn to keep commitments. I even learn to keep my heart open and be vulnerable.

I witness people come in. I witness people go out. Some come back. Some do not. Some people die. It becomes very clear no one can save an addict except the addict themselves.

The longer I am clean and sober, the more of my tangent issues come up: Relationship issues, money issues, family issues. It’s like Whack-A-Mole. Put one down, another pops up.

I start joining programs like crazy.

Ok, then I realize I am doing what I always do. OVERDOING.

I back off a little bit.

I work my Eighth Step: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. I make the list. New Sponsor tells me I have to wait and write out each amend EXACTLY. Another thing I do not wish to do.

So, I get ready to start my Ninth Step: Made amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. My list is long and New Sponsor keeps asking me, “Where’s the harm? You cannot include people just because you feel ashamed or guilty. Was there actual harm done to the person or institution?”

I have to cross off more than half my list.

This is hard. I cannot undo my past. I can only try to make amends. I can keep it on my side of the street. No ifs, ands, or buts. No conversation other than listening to whatever the other person has to say. A simple: I did this, I did that, and it was wrong. I am sorry.

Some of these go well. Some of these do not go so well.

Over the years I work through the steps many times. I go to thousands of meetings. I have several different sponsors is several different programs. One is in a coma for three months. People from the program rotate going to sit by her side in the hospital and read, every day.

Slowly, within this hammock of support, within the solution of the rooms of recovery, I begin to know who I am. I am shown how esteemable acts build self-esteem. I begin to meet myself and I find myself worthy. I learn how to live this life. On its own terms. I learn to listen. I learn I do not have to say everything that is on my mind. I learn how to hold space for another person. And…I learn I would rather be happy than right.

Gifts of sobriety happen, things I never thought possible:

Son and Daughter raised, imperfectly, with love. And they are AWESOME young adults now.

And Philly, my Buddhist husband, the kindest most loving and evolved man I have ever met.

Sweet friendships with people I really trust, and who can really trust me.

A class at a time, I earned a Master’s in Education. It took four and a half years, but program showed me how to take the action and let go of the results.

And get this – becoming a Teacher of Elementary School Children. Me. Responsible for a whole classroom of students. Previously unthinkable.

Certifying as a Yoga Teacher. I GET to teach people how to inhabit their bodies, how to let go, how to just breathe.

Training to be a Doula. Getting to support women and their partners before and through birth. Being INVITED into this sacred space, this moment when a new life enters the world and opens its eyes for the first time. Witnessing the joy in the faces of the parents, bursting with unconditional love.

I tell you this not so much as a story about me, although it is my story. It could be anybody’s story. Reader, I hope it is a window into what recovery can be in the life of an addict. Any kind of addict.

We cannot stop the waves.

But we can learn to surf.

As I sit finishing this blog over a few days’ time, Philly’s finds his beloved nephew dead in his apartment. Cause of death: Multiple drug overdose.
He was 36 years old.

This blog dedicated to Nephew and all those suffering the disease of addiction.

https://www.aa.org  If you think you have a problem with alcohol.
www.na.org  If you think you have a problem with drugs.
https://al-anon.org
  For families of Alcoholics and Addicts.

Something

Tonight I meant to write a blog.

And once again it is too late and I am too tired and my eyes are burning from so much ZOOMING.

But I had to say something.

I just can not go one more day without saying SOMETHING.

So the something will be very short because it is late.

The something will be this list of things that have happened in my life this year so far.

Here we go.

Zoom

Very large scary fires

Spotted Lantern Fly

Daughter moving back to Brooklyn

COVID

A lot more MSNBC

Prayer every night TRUMPET is voted out of office

Or dragged out.

Equality

Unity

The wisdom of young people

Saying something

Hurricane crisscrossing

Making flower mosaics

A lot more lovely time at home with Philly

And Zelda

Sleeping later.

And still up now.

Dining room transformed into zoom studio

Tons more recovery meetings

And sponsees

Time to unravel

Running everyday

Nighttime funning

Becoming so much closer to my parents

Family political chaos

Saving on gas

Masks

Gloves

Hand sanitizer

Social distancing

Cancellation of whole seasons of sports

Saving on take-out

Reading about friends online

Online in general

And thank GOD I discovered Tik Tok.

I have to go to bed now.

Maybe tomorrow I will write more.

Oh wait look! WordPress has changed its editor and now I canot figure out how to add a photo.

Ugh.

Goodnight.

The Sleepy Ha Ha’s

yoga nidra

Last night I had the Sleepy Ha Ha’s.

 

Do you know what the Sleepy Ha Ha’s are reader?

 

The Sleepy Ha Ha’s are what happens when a person stays up too late and ARE-YOU-HIGH kind of insanity sets in. This frequently includes jumping up and down, laughing uncontrollably at things that would probably be not nearly as funny at 2PM as they are at 2AM, and yes, ok, sometimes crying.

 

I think the crying part scares Philly.

 

However, I have discovered if I stay up late enough, Philly becomes VERY funny.

Philly has his own version of The Sleepy Ha Ha’s.

 

Used to be I was in bed by 10PM and up by 6AM.

 

Then COVID happens. And everything goes to hell. Besides the obvious I mean. We start to leave food sitting out for longer periods of time. We stay up progressively later. Every possible surface area in the house starts to get cluttered with random items: ball cap, picture frame, pieces of loose packing material, post-it notes, papers, wiring and of course, masks.

 

–OFF TOPIC–

 

Speaking of masks, I was running the other day with my mask. I run by a gaggle of male construction workers. If you are female, you might already know where I am going with this. The gaggle is quite boisterous. When I run past they get quiet.

This is not usually a good sign.

This usually translates into: I am about to get CAT-CALLED.

Yes, this can happen to even women like myself who are of a more advanced age.

And so I run by. And a moment passes. And then a male voice yells, “Hey! Nice mask!”

 

I was going to give him the finger but I thought: Hey that was actually pretty good!

So, I did not.

 

–BACK ON TOPIC–

 

Anyway back to The Sleepy Ha Ha’s. It is 1AM. I am staying up later and later each week that goes by. WAY back in the day, I would rebelliously close out the bars and dance clubs at 4AM and go to the afterhours places, or to the diner, and then go to the beach to sleep for a while, just to get up and do it all over again the next night. By Monday morning I would have shin splints.

 

Yeah. Those were the days.

 

We are in the kitchen and Philly is cranking out the very early morning jokes.

I tell him, “Hey I think we are heading towards breaking our GO TO SLEEP time record!”

 

“All right!” he says.

 

“And that is so great since we still have all this laundry to fold!” I say.

 

Three loads people. Three loads.

Some laundry is washing. Some laundry is drying. And some laundry is sitting in a pile on top of the laundry machine.

 

I love the laundry machine. After years of having no laundry machine in my apartment, I feel as if I have been gifted by the laundry fairy.

 

I go over and put my head down on top of the warm laundry pile. I say, “I love you laundry machine.”

 

Philly says, “Um. Well, you see the one on the left is called A DRYER. It blows hot air and dries the clothes. And the one on the right is called A WASHING MACHINE.”

 

He does not really say HOW the washing machine works, but I know it has something to do with soap and water and agitation.

 

“Oh yeah?” I say. “Well then. How come the washing machine is called a washing machine but the DRYER is NOT called a drying machine? Huh? Huh?”

 

I can see by the look on his face he has no answer to this question.

 

“Ah-ha!” I say. And I hop on over into the kitchen.

 

“Yes?” he says.

 

“I don’t know!” I say. And I start laughing so hard tears are coming out. But then somehow this turns into a deep heaving cry. And then laughing again.

 

“WooOOOoooOOOOooo…” Philly says, and he traces his finger in the air like a sine wave.

 

“I can’t help it!” I say. Because I really cannot. And anyway, believe it or not reader, this is FUN for me.

 

We have a few more jokes and long hard laughs and cries, well really only me with the cries. But now I can tell Philly is getting tired of The Sleepy Ha Ha’s.

 

I look at the clock.

 

“Holy CRAP!” I say. “It is 2AM!”

I look at Philly. I think I see him roll his eyes at me.

I look at my phone. Daughter has just texted me. She is still awake. What a surprise.

 

“You need to go to sleep.” Philly says.

I wump off towards the stairs.

I text daughter back: I am still awake!

 

Daughter texts: MOM! You need to go to sleep.

Apparently, moms are prohibited from staying up later than their young adult children.

 

Who knew?

 

Now I really am getting tired. I think I have worn myself out.

I start walking up the stairs.

 

When I get to the top I yell down, “Woo! 2AM! It’s a personal best!”

 

“Go to BED!” Philly yells.

 

“But will you still tuck me?” I ask.

 

“Yes.” he says. I can tell he really does not want to tuck me.

 

But he will.

 

Soon, Zelda the dog and I are all tucked in. I look at the clock and it is just past 2AM.

It has been a night of rebellion, but not in the dance club. In our HOUSE!

 

Just like the good old days.

But better.

Because now the good old days are the TODAYS.

Race to Eight O’Clock

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Yesterday we went to the co-op.

 

Around here, Saturday is the usual day for co-op shopping.

Because Saturday is TASKING DAY.

 

In the morning, I whip out my post-it note list. I am a person with lists. Your mileage may vary.

So we sit down on the green couch and go over the list for the day: Return phone calls, go for a run, teach, do laundry, mow the lawn and go to the co-op.

 

The co-op has become our new found reality show Saturday entertainment.

 

True.

 

I am telling you, this is what happens when you get older and are married. These are the games you make up for a HOT DATE Saturday night. We also have the ROLLING ON THE KITCHEN FLOOR GAME, which I will save for another blog, maybe with video!

 

Anyway, it is getting towards the end of the day. We have gotten almost everything done.

 

So satisfying.

 

Philly still has to cut the lawn and we still need to go to the co-op. He heads outside for the lawnmower.

 

“Hey!” I say. “If you start to cut the lawn now we won’t make it to the co-op before it closes at eight o’clock!”

 

Ok. Wait. Does anyone really WRITE eight o’clock out anymore? And didn’t that used to be a kind of coffee? I mean people SAY eight o’clock. But they WRITE 8PM. Right? Right?

 

Back to THE LAWN. Philly says, “I can do it!”

It is now 7PM. (See above for the written use of PM)

 

“All right, but it is going to be tight.” I say.

 

We look at each other and smile. We smile because we know we are now going to get to play RACE TO EIGHT O’ CLOCK!

 

Woo!

 

Philly turns and runs to the shed to get the lawnmower. I rush upstairs to finish folding the laundry. Very soon it is 7:30PM!

 

I bolt down the stairs. I run to the front door, which is a very nice new front door with a roll down screen, BTW.

 

I open the door. I yell to Philly, “We have to go!”

“I am done!” he yells back.

 

We leave all the lawn items where they are and hop in the KIA.

“Let the games begin!” I say.

 

And off we go.

 

Eight minutes and we are at the co-op. Since they are practically closing, there is a lot of parking. We screech right up to the curb and hop out of the KIA.

 

Now because of COVID the co-op only allows eight people at a time inside. Which means if it is a crowded day they will only allow one person per family.

 

There are little markers on the sidewalk so we can all stand six feet apart. I stand right behind Philly. Nice Lady opens the door and lets Philly come in. Since there is almost no one in the store, Nice Lady lets me in as well.

 

We grab a big basket. Philly puts it on the counter. “I’ll go this way.” And he points toward the vegetables.

 

“Ok.” I say. “I will go that way.” And I point to the bread and cookie area.

 

The race is on. It is now 7:40PM.

 

I pick out some nice bread and a few chocolate chip cookies. I look for bagels but since it is the end of the day there are no bagels to be had.

 

I move on.

 

I drop the items into the big basket. I see Philly. “Did you get broccoli?” I ask.

“No” he says. “No broccoli.”

“We need broccoli.” I say.

 

I go over to the broccoli area which is right next to the brussel sprouts. Yes. I know some people say brussels sprouts. And some people capitalize. And yes, I know Brussels is a PLACE. I TRIED to find one right way. I gave up and this is what we are doing here: brussel sprouts.

 

When son was a young son he would call them little cabbage balls. “I do not like little cabbage balls.” he would say. Of course NOW he loves them.

 

I go to get the NEW biodegradable vegetable bags. Ok. Good idea on the biodegradable. However, IMPOSSIBLE to open. ESPECIALLY in the middle of a pandemic where you cannot lick your fingers for bag opening assistance.

 

I fight with the bag. Since I cannot lick my fingers to open the bag at this time in history, it takes me a whole minute JUST to get the bag OPEN. I put the broccoli in. Next I go over to the brussel sprouts, which are loose in a big bin with a scooper. Bag or no bag, this scooper situation has never really worked for me. The brussel sprouts just roll away. Unless you push them into the scooper with your HAND, which for obvious reason is not allowed. Not just now, but never ever.

 

I learned this lesson at the Brooklyn co-op years ago when I tried to give my vegetables a little hand assist. I did not know I had one of the militant co-op people standing right behind me.

 

“No touching the vegetables without a glove!” she yells from behind me.

“But I am only touching the vegetables I intend to buy.” I say.

“It doesn’t matter.” Co-op Police Lady says.

“Yes it does.” I say. “If I only touch the vegetables I am buying then it doesn’t matter if I am touching the vegetables because they are MINE.”

 

She gives me the Co-op Police Lady stink eye and walks away.

 

Also-just in case you should ever go into the Brooklyn Co-op, DO NOT nibble on anything you are buying in bulk. Because that is STEALING.

 

Anyway, I get the little cabbage balls into the bag. I dash over to put the bag into basket along with the broccoli.

 

On the way I pass Philly. “I am going to get the milks.” I say.

“All right!” he says. “I will run upstairs to get the coffee!”

“Meet you there!” I say.

 

Meanwhile I walk over to the corn area. This is a good time for corn. I get three ears.

I put them in the basket and head upstairs to the coffee area.

 

Philly is standing in front of the coffee bean dispensers. Usually we get one Midnight Sun and one French Roast. We like our coffee beans dark and greasy.

 

I walk down the aisle a little and I see a display of huge dog food size bags of coffee beans!

 

!!!

 

I yell over to Philly, “Oh my GOD! Look at this!”

 

Philly looks over. “This is coffee!” I say. Then I say, “We should definitely get a bag! AND they are 20% off!”

 

“Ok!” Philly says. “Go ahead and grab one!”

I guess we are committing to this coffee drinking lifestyle for a while.

 

Announcement Lady comes over the speaker: Attention: The co-op will be closing in five minutes.

 

I look at Philly. “We still have to get the fruit!” I say.

Here we go down the stairs with the dog food coffee bag. We cut the corner around the cashier grab the fruit and our basket to push it down the line.

 

Luckily, Cashier Number One, who is the cashier we always get, is right there waiting for us. As she begins ringing up our bounty, Philly searches the box pile for suitable boxes to pack the groceries. This is not so easy to do since the boxes are all thrown randomly on top of the refrigerator cabinets. You have to use one of those claw type things to reach a box.

 

He gets the boxes. “Nice work!” I say. We load the boxes together. I know Philly loves to do the spatial relations thing with the food items. And he thinks he is better than me at it. But he is not. He forgets I have years of experience single mothering the box packing to a manageable carry.

 

Eh. I just let him have this little box fantasy.

 

And…the boxes are packed! We slide the debit card to pay for way more food than we thought we were going to buy.

 

Isn’t that always the way?

 

We are all on our way out as they announce last call for checkout.

 

“Phew.” I say.

“Yeah.” Philly says.

 

Time: 7:59PM

 

We are getting good at this.

Yes we are.