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PROMPTuesday #235: The Songs

September 27th, 2014

We’d been waiting for the new parish center for years. Father Duffy brought its construction up at every mass and the fundraising was epic, as were the sales pitches: the auditorium would double as a roller skating rink, the young adult groups would have a place to meet, offices would be expanded allowing St. Mary’s to be served well and ably, the school would have an indoor basketball court  AND bleachers. Plus, even more exciting for some people who were my parents, a new church space would be built, and our clergy would no longer have to conduct mass in a little old charming chapel, because a larger, more modern, DISCO church would be added onto the small nave of the lovely historic space, with enough room for parishioners to bring extended family, distended soul, and pretended grace along with them.

 

 

The new church came first, but the always-to-be-built parish center plans ruled St. Mary’s student imaginations from 1978 to 1980.

 

Finally, the parish center renderings made themselves known in stone and concrete and glass, and everything Fr. Duffy promised arrived. I remember the week the parish center opened because John Lennon had just been shot, and the air was charged with history changing and that kind of feeling you get when a ripple in human collective consciousness lets loose.

 

Yet, my attention turned pretty quickly to the sleek, plastic-looking yellow-with-red-checks auditorium floors, the very ones to serve as a sometimes roller skating rink; and as foundation to the meeting space for the Young Adult Madness Society (Y.A.M.S.), run by my high-school-aged crush, Joe Pinder.

 

I’d just turned 12, and strange feelings arose in my solar plexus when  Air Supply’s “Lost in Love” played on my wooden Panasonic  stereo, a parent-bequeathed musical luxury with silver-ridged buttons I’d turn up to the right more often than to the left. I’d lay my head down on my bedroom’s green shag carpet next to the Panasonic’s speakers every night, a familiar movement I could re-enact for you to this day. Always waiting for the top 10 of the evening to be announced; I’d usually spend the time during commercials placing the faded blue-labeled Air Supply 45 on my turntable, laying the spindly needle down just so on the black vinyl, thrilling to the scratchy cue of impending solar-plexus pre-pubescent urges.

 

After my Air Supply moment, it was back to the radio, and if you ask me now, I could sing any song played on it from 1978 to 1983 word for word, especially those heart-piercingly sung by Christopher Cross, Eagles, or Dan Fogelberg.

 

I carried the sensibilities evoked by lyric and rhythm with me into the parish center’s opening. Everything had a soundtrack, naturally: my crush on Joe Pinder (“Don’t Fall in Love With a Dreamer”), my adolescence (“This is It”), and that yearning, churning, persistent tap on the pre-pubescent head, saying “who are you going to be? who are you going to be? who are you going to be?” (“Cool Change”).

 

EVERYTHING felt magical and touched by song. Like if the words I heard every night could come true and be real, if those stories familiar through speakers might be a kind of life I could create, if what were ahead were soul-thrumming, and heart-pounding, and love-bonking – delivered to me through renderings hinted at and eventually made known in 3D.

 

In the interim, I donned my orange-rubber-wheeled roller skates and hummed inside my head, as Fr. Duffy made pleas for the next thing, as Joe Pinder’s mom died of cancer, as I learned that songs could be fabrications, and as life continued to happen, ripple after ripple.

 

*****************************

 

Today’s writing prompt is: what songs defined you? made you who you are? bring you back to a “time?”

 

Add your post/comment/prompt answer below in the comments or write a post of your own and include the link for us to read!

 

Meanwhile…to bone up on PROMPTuesdays, read a bit about it here.

 

Or, catch up on the PROMPTuesdays archive here.

 




Comparing Man Pain to Childbirth: Don’t Go There #ARant

September 26th, 2014

Just yesterday, my husband hobbled home from two days playing a racquetball tournament that wrecked him and every single muscle group in his whole entire body. At the end of the thing, he couldn’t walk, drive, or be. Ended up, I picked him up from a nearby shopping center where he was buying beer to bring over to a hot-tub-owning friend’s house.

 

He never made it.

 

His muscles clenched to the point where he cried, and could barely move without assistance.

 

When I picked him up, one of the first sentences out of his mouth was, “This probably feels as bad as childbirth.”

 

And then all my bitch alarm bells went off because Oh hell NO, he didn’t just say that.

 

His pain might feel like giving birth, but probably not, and more importantly, I would not presume to know how something feels unless I’ve felt it, even though I just did.

 

See, birthing a child is so impactful that drugs are shot DIRECTLY INTO your spine to numb the pain. And also that pain can last for hours, or even DAYS.

 

Then, the pain only alleviates after you push a large-poundage mass out of your delicate areas or are cut open.

 

So NO, not the freaking same as having muscles clench.

 

Stick an eight-pound mass in your pelvis and shoot it out your p@nis and then let’s talk.

 

Also, good luck with your muscles clenching for that few seconds!

 

(What? I am NOT PMSing.)

 




The Haircut

June 16th, 2014

{This is free association writing. It was good and necessary for me to do, but if you’re looking for a point, I’m not sure it exists here. If I find it buried in these words somewhere one day, I’ll know why I wrote it.}

 

He enters the house with the usual fanfare, carrying buckets of chocolate and collected change for the girls, bottles of wine, and a scuffed leather duffel I remember from the 1980s. His shoulders are flecked with flakes, a sight I’ve grown up seeing, and his hair is bright white and unevenly growing in haphazard layers left to their own devices for far too long. My girls flock to his side, another thing I remember from 30 years ago, when the four of us kids would greet him in a furious tumble of limbs and “me firsts” after one of his frequent business trips to Denver, or Berlin, or Lisbon.

 

I can’t recall if my mom hung back angry at his absence, or was still in bed, exhausted from it. I do know my dad spent most of those weekends home carting my brothers, sister, and I to shoe stores for new sneakers, or to soccer games for coaching, and to arcades or movies or whatever else was planned that my mom couldn’t get to with the cooking, caring, and coddling four flouncey children during long stretches of time alone.

 

Back then, his energy seemed boundless. Either that, or he couldn’t sit at home too long. Maybe it was the constant expected motion of work and traveling. The sudden stop at home base must have seemed boring after so much going. So round and round it was, and if his body would agree now, it would still be in spite of the work and the trips snatched away years ago.

 

My girls love him like we kids did. He knows that when he walks in the door, and it sustains him for awhile.

 

But he always grows quiet again, uneasy, not content to sit or talk unless there is something happening, somewhere to go, or someone to joke with in a raucous rush. Whether he was home from trips or here to visit, it’s all the same. I never quite felt enough, matchless to his wit or appetite for doing. Now at nearly 77, his legs don’t take him far and his back keeps him more still than he’d like. Today, his choice has been removed, but he still flails at it, wants to get out. My daughters sense it, too and so when he says, ”I want to see the old house,” none of us are too surprised.

 

The “old house” was built in 1986 in a subdivision not far from where I live now. My dad, mom, and siblings moved there where it was brand new, and I’d just graduated from high school in a Chicago suburb. I was miserable in San Diego, looking at the office window at my neighbor, recently moved from the midwest as I had, my age and assimilated into Southern California, a too-sunny fake existence I loathed. I’d watch his car come and go at all hours, while I sat inside, nurturing homesickness and loss of center. We dated once, but I couldn’t grab onto what he offered because it meant I’d be resigned to San Diego. I didn’t want to stay. I wanted to go. In between, I closeted myself in my bedroom, observed him living his life, wondered when I’d have one, and wallowed.

 

It was one of those nights when my dad had enough of my hermitism.

 

“You know you’re going to need to make friends,” he scolded from the doorway. “You can’t stay here forever.”

 

His voice wasn’t kind. He wanted to push my buttons and make me defiant; to move me to the point where I’d socialize just to get him to shut up. He did that: needled and teased and got you going however he had to do it. For your own good.

 

That night, he pushed me too far, and I dissolved into tears and he left, contrite. He spent the night trying to make it up to me. Because he did that, too: played the drill sergeant bit to break you down, then returned to dad to build you up. I was fairly used to it and he always got me up and at ‘em again. Within months, I’d made friends and built a life, but I knew I wanted to go, still. I did, too, transferring to a Wisconsin college halfway through sophomore year and leaving behind the sun and wallow and the wanting to be somewhere else.

 

My mom called me from that same house to tell me she had breast cancer. It was in that town I came to see her in the hospital after her mastectomy and hysterectomy. It was there she celebrated her 50th birthday, ostensibly cancer-free, it was there my dad would leave for days at a time with only credit card clues pointing to a Las Vegas binge, or some other place he had to get to to get away from boredom? Tedium? A routine?

 

I don’t think I’ll ever know, but that house transitioned most of us into someone else, and we all knew it. Some of us haven’t been back for decades. Today, my dad wants to go. He asks to drive by Pomerado Hospital where my mom was diagnosed, treated, and given the go ahead to live; he grows quiet at Rancho Bernardo Inn, a place my mom loved for a brunch or a stay; he retreats further inside himself at the Remington Club, my mom’s place of employment for her “after-retirement” job, which was down the road from the Vons where my brother worked as a cashier and the Jack in the Box that was my sister’s first job and my youngest brother’s first choice for fine dining in the whole entire world.

 

We drive by the old house.

 

The images flashed by for me, and I imagine it was that way for my dad. How his scuffed duffel and garment bag would hang aloft from his fingers as he held his arms up to hug his children, older then my daughters are now, and used to my dad coming and going. The golden retriever wagging her tail at his arrival, my mom hanging back a little, still tired, and a little angry she married a salesman even though he gave her a choice, told her he’d be more gone than there.

 

I wonder if he remembers needling me out of self pity all those years ago, if he sees the credit card bills my mom threw to him across the table; or if he’s recalling only happy things. It’s most likely a pungent and rollicking mix of all these memories, furiously throwing themselves at the psyche, hoping for a chance to be retold or re-testified. Old houses will do that.

 

I can no longer stand my once electrified dad, always moving or wanting to, sitting silent and motionless in the passenger seat next to me. We have to get away from there, and what the past is doing to him. I suggest a beachside restaurant and never quite succeed in getting him out of himself, so we head home earlier than the sun. As we draw close to my neighborhood, I have a sudden and strong urge to buy my dad a haircut. In fact, I insist. I don’t know what to do with this maudlin man and his quick onset arrested inertia. A haircut seemed reasonable. Or different. Or desperate. Or, something.

 

No, I know. I wanted my dad to look less sad. More in control. His hair is shaggy and past his shoulders, and I need it to be tamed and coiffed, because that would mean everything was neat and orderly and not going outside the lines where I might be losing my dad to regret or not being able to move or despising himself for being in motion decades upon decades, because family is most important, he knows that now, I imagine.

 

I imagine. I don’t know what he knows or thinks because he so rarely tells me. I wonder if he’s content to relive the adoration my girls shower on him for those brief moments of first arrival because he thinks back to my brothers, sister and I as children; if he’s relegated the silent wife and the impatience and the always-having-to-go and always-wanting-to to the that’s-just-who-he-was-and-what-he-had-to-do compartment, or if he’s needing to somehow go back and change things.

 

I don’t know. I instruct the barber to cut my dad’s hair, watch as thin, snow layers fall to the ground in clumps of fuzz, and study my father’s face in the mirror.

 

It’s all I can do.




Grocery Outlet Giveaway (GOG)

June 16th, 2014

Grocery Outlet 2

 

You know how you rave to your friends about something again and again and they largely ignore you and then try it for themselves one day and it’s like they’ve discovered it themselves?

 

That’s so annoying.

 

For instance, you might say, “Hey! The burgers over at Burger Dee-lite are delightful! You need to try one!” and your friends will act as if you said zero words and are not talking. And then you’ll repeat yourself over the course of 68 weeks because everyone should have a Burger Dee-lite they’re so delicious but no one listens to you and you just want to jump up and down on their faces and shove a Burger Dee-lite into their pie holes. Then, someone will try a Burger Dee-lite randomly because the restaurant was right there by Avery’s dance studio and she’ll mention at a Lia Sophia party, “Oh my God! Have you guys tried Burger Dee-lite? It’s the best!” and everyone will lose their minds over the prospect of this delicious burger despite the fact you’ve been insisting they have one for the last nine years.

 

That’s exactly what happened with Grocery Outlet and I’m still giving people a hard time about it.

 

Because I’ve loved Grocery Outlet for years, and when one opened in my neighborhood last year, there was not enough talking about it that could come out of my mouth.

 

“Hey!” I’d say. “The wine selection is fabulous!” or “Oh, this little filet mignon? I bought it at Grocery Outlet!” or “You mean THIS gluten-free, organic, all-natural granola I’m eating that costs 10 gold bullion elsewhere? I got it for three smiles at Grocery Outlet!”

 

But still, no one listened. I don’t know if this says more about me, or about my friends who seemingly have no ears.

 

Either way, slowly and one by one, my pals would try Grocery Outlet because it was “right there by the Michaels” and one by one, they’d all come back with, “Oh my GOD! Grocery Outlet has the best wine selection!” and “Enjoy this filet mignon I got at Grocery Outlet” and “This granola usually costs four newborn babies and a diamond, but I got it for three smiles at Grocery Outlet!”

 

I’m telling you all now: heed my words. If there is a Grocery Outlet near you, get there now and do not tell me how great it is afterward because I will throw a six-pack of Burger Dee-lites in your face.

 

Maybe This Will Help: How Grocery Outlet Works

Grocery Outlet sources its products directly from the manufacturers, cutting out middle man prices a lot like Trader Joe’s does. But while Trader’s primarily sells its own branded products, Grocery Outlet sells brand names such as General Mills, Dole, and Kraft. There’s also a million organic brands  available that normally sell for twice as much elsewhere.

The manufacturers that sell to Grocery Outlet often do so due to products overruns and cosmetic packaging changes that typical grocery stores don’t accept. For example, when GlaxoSmithKline changed Sensodyne toothpaste packaging from a squeeze cylinder to a tube, the manufacturer was left with thousands of cylinder-packaged products it sold to Grocery Outlet at a hefty discount passed onto the consumer. The product still had years to go before its expiration date and was the same product packaged in the tube.

 

Grocery Outlet Products

Grocery Outlet sells health and beauty care products, toys, paper products, wine and beer, frozen foods, organic items and produce. On a recent trip, I picked up a $25 bottle of wine for $6.99 (many Grocery Outlets have their own wine buyers fully dedicated to sourcing excellent wines), several packages of Amy’s Organic entrees for as low as $2.99 each, and 100% maple syrup for a little over $5.

 

What to Know

Grocery Outlet’s inventory changes often so if you saw your favorite organic burrito there two weeks ago, you might not be able to find it again when you have a sudden craving and hope to find it again (and I’m STILL heartbroken about it). The products change so frequently due to the opportunistic shopping model explained above. Even so, on each trip, you should be able to find grocery staples and typical stock-up products. When you find what you love, buy a lot because you can never be sure when it will be back.

It’s a great idea to sign up for Grocery Outlet’s email notifications because additional deals and special savings events are communicated that way, in addition to through Facebook and Twitter.

Finally, Grocery Outlet does not accept manufacturer coupons mainly because its prices are already so low.

 

Locations

My Grocery Outlet location that I told my ignoring friends about is in Poway, but there are other locations in San Marcos, Escondido, and Oceanside.

The Giveaway

 

Have a $25 Grocery Outlet gift card! With that you can surely buy wine, filet mignon, and granola and have enough left over for some many other things! Try it and see!

 

Just please leave a comment with what you’ve tried to tell your friends repeatedly only to have them pretend you never talked and then they try it and act like they discovered it themselves. Or just leave a comment telling me how smart I am. Or just leave a comment.

 

I’ll pick one at random for the gift card on Friday, June 20.

 




My 30-Day Transformation

May 17th, 2014

Somewhere around March 7 of this year, it occurred to me that I should probably clean up my act. This meant taking more vitamins (or just taking any vitamins to be precise), eating less beef-on-buns products, and exercising more (or just exercising in general).

 

I’d been feeling plenty run down, stressed, and bulky for several years, and I often cycled through periods of conscious health and detoxing, only to jump back on the eat-hamburgers, enjoy-the-wine, sit-on-the-couch-working-for-eight-hours train days later. Then, after a period of extreme exhaustion and ultimate burnout in late February, I knew that vicious back and forth had to stop.

 

What held me back slightly was that the nature of my work means I stare at a laptop for hours a day. Sometimes 12 hours. Sometimes 16. I try to optimize my working time during the kids’ school hours because I know that all getting-things-done bets are off the moment I pick them up and bring them home. This tendency means I’m loathe to take any time for myself from 8:30-3:20 because that is productive time wasted (I say in my mind). Also, if I don’t capitalize on every kid-free second I have to freelance, it means I’ll be taking my laptop to bed and working into the odd hours. Translation: going to the gym or popping in an exercise DVD took precious time I didn’t think I could spare. I always eat lunch at my computer, too, so chose simple edibles I could pop into my mouth with my non-writing hand, such as nachos and potato chip sticks.

 

Also, there was a general lack of restorative sleep happening, ill-advised relaxation methods such as Cabernet, and gravity pulling at my face.

 

So, after three days of thinking, on March 10, I decided to implement a 30-Day Transformation Plan I mishmashed together from Google advice and my own brain. I figured I would be bold and go big; and that I could do anything for 30 days, except sit in a spider den, and so I could probably live through less starch and more calcium.

 

I wanted to share what I did during this time because I truly felt more energetic and less nacho-y, and I always love to hear what people do to be better, and so maybe you will, too.

 

Here’s the breakdown:

 

Exercise

 

I would do Jillian Michaels’ 30-Day Shred every day. This exercise plan consists of three levels, each lasting 20 minutes, and implementing a two-minutes-of-cardio, two-minutes-of-strength, and one-minute-of-abs interval training sequence. I rather liked the quick, get-it-done nature of the levels and felt sore afterwards, which my husband assured me was a good sign.

 

After week one, I added in 20 minutes of AMT training at my gym, which was essentially an elliptical/treadmill/stair climbing combo exercise helped tremendously by the fact that a large TV was situated in front of my face. I tried to use the AMT every day, but in practice, I did it every other day.

 

Food

 

I eliminated sugar, most dairy, white flour, processed foods, and soy. To survive, I made these protein pancakes almost every morning for breakfast, learned how to make paleo crabcakes, which saved me for many a lunch, and bought enough dips from the farmers’ market to drown the taste of all the other healthy stuff I ate. I also bought those all-natural grilled chicken strips from Costco and dipped them in Thai sauce or chopped them into salads. Finally, hardboiled eggs became my best snack friend.

 

Vitamin Regimen

All of the vitamin ingestion was complicated by the fact that I can’t swallow pills, and instead must chew them due to an unfortunate Thanksgiving incident when I was eight, so I went for liquid or chewable versions where I could.

 

 Mind Wellness

 

I would do five minutes of meditation, and ask my husband “how was your day?” every evening.

 

Face Wellness

 

To combat the downward pull on my cheeks, eyes, jowls, and neck, I compiled a daily facial exercise routine, some of which you can see here. I did these every day, faithfully.

 

I also added a product to my usual beloved Skin Authority skincare routine. The Resurfacing Accelerator is designed to exfoliate and “youthen” skin, which is a word I made up that should totally be a word.

 

Etc.

 

There was zero wine in my 30-Day Transformation Plan, but lots of looking at it longingly.

 

(This awful pic shows me just before the 30-Day Transformation Plan)

 

 

(This similarly horrible pic shows me just after the 30-Day Transformation Plan)

 

 

(This ridiculously horrible pic shows me just before my tendons broke)

 

 

The Results

 

It turned out that 18 was my magic number because that’s the day I made it to with the plan. I completed nearly all of Jillian Michaels’ level two Shred, until something terrible happened to my hand and its tendons could no longer accommodate my weight resting on it from the five million planks I had to do. Despite this unfortunate appendage anomaly, I indeed felt firmer in places and my stamina rose dramatically.

 

I noticed a large energy shift for the better with the vitamins. I also observed that my hair and nails seemed stronger.

 

The meditation helped sharpen my focus somewhat when I could stay silent in my head long enough. I stopped asking my husband about his day after night three because I’m an awful person who was doing too many planks.

 

The best part of the transformation for me turned out to be the facial exercises. I really noticed a difference, and so did a lot of other people. I was told I “glowed” and looked years younger, which could have been the Resurfacing Accelerator, but I really felt that the exercises toned and lifted my face.

 

Giving up wine was a good thing. I slept better and that is wonderful for everyone concerned, said the crabby-no-sleep-getter.

 

Overall, I would do this again, except with less niacin and more “how was your days?” for my husband. Toward the end of the plan, I hit an exceptionally busy patch with work that derailed a lot of my routine. In the process, I observed how easy it was for me to get off course with a crazy schedule and realized that time MUST BE MADE despite it to be healthy. That was the most valuable lesson I already knew but needed to know deeper.

 

And that’s true for anything really, isn’t it?

 




The Park

May 3rd, 2014

I watched from the park picnic table as four young teen-aged girls walked to the restrooms, shoulder to shoulder. The group caught my attention because they seemed to be dragging their feet, rather than actually picking them up one in front of the other, lending a sort of slow motion effect to their approach. They went on painstakingly this way, looking up every so often at the group of parents gathered under the covered patio for an end-of-season softball party with our kids. My eyes continued to follow them as they made their way inside the bathroom, and I saw one of them pat her jacket pocket as if to say, “I got it.”

 

“That seems suspicious,” my husband said from next to me. “You should go in there and see what’s going on.”

 

He’d read my mind of course, because that was exactly what I planned to do. This particular park acted as a sort of gathering place for teenagers after hours and it was never unusual to find used condoms, beer bottles, and small containers littered with something powdery strewn across the sidewalk as I walked my kids to school in the morning. From the moment I’d glimpsed the girls headed in our direction, I imagined they planned to use the bathroom for drinking or drugs, hesitated when they saw a dozen adults near the entrance, then decided to go through with their funny business anyway.

 

I called to my youngest, intending to use her as a decoy. After convincing her she needed to clean herself up, we walked hand-in-hand to the bathroom. I entered making noise just in case, I don’t know, they were in the middle of something horrible, and had time to put whatever it was away before I could confront them. Frankly, I didn’t know what I would do if I caught them in some sort of act, and I’d rather not be put in that position, even if catching them was my intention all along.

 

I pretended to wash my daughter’s hands and noticed that the teens were packed into the handicap stall at the far end of the restroom area. I made my way to my own toilet, and heard them start to sing very low. I looked straight at the closed door they stood behind to see the Uggs of one of them protecting the latch. We locked eyes through the too-wide gap between door and door frame.

 

I kept on, closed my door and stood inside the stall for several seconds. I rustled around a bit, then flushed the toilet to continue my charade. I was a lousy private investigator. I wasn’t going to catch anyone in the middle of anything; and so I left to wait them out.

 

I positioned myself outside the bathrooms as the other parents and kids started a kickball game in the field several yards away. After about ten minutes, two girls came out of the bathroom and with that same slow gait, made their way to the bleachers to watch the game that had just unfolded. Several additional minutes later, the remaining teens emerged, and one of them took a white paper bag from her jacket and placed it in the trash.

 

They joined their friends, no one saying a word, no one looking at the other. I stayed where I was and stared at their backs, silhouetted against exuberant ten-year-olds running to bases and high-fiving their dads.

 

I knew what was in that bag.

 

I needed to confirm it, and I would, five minutes later as the girls eventually left to walk again so very slow, to the end of the park, shoulder to shoulder as they’d come in the first place.

 

I didn’t explain myself to the other parents still sitting at the picnic table. I just walked to the trash can, removed the lid, pulled out the bag and dumped its contents into the empty Gatorade bottles, errant Goldfish, and birthday cake remnants.

 

The pregnancy test box settled among the other trash.

 

I returned to my picnic table post, and a furious blizzard of thoughts pockmarked my brain.

 

They only look 14, 15 tops.

At least they had each other.

What happened? Was this her first time?

Her mom doesn’t know.

 

The park sat at the end of a cul de sac, three blocks from my home, and surrounded by houses where my friends lived and by people I know on sight. Chances are, these girls belonged to someone I knew, and that thought persisted as I watched my oldest running in dirt and giggling with her teammates. When I moved to this town, chosen for its family friendliness and safety, I visited this park with my daughters the very first day we took possession of our house. My firstborn was entering kindergarten then in 2009, just five years old, and those girls I saw today were more than likely my oldest’s age now.

 

It happens so fast. All of it.

 

I had to know. Despite what the softball party participants would think, I grabbed two toilet seat protectors from the bathroom, covered my palms, marched outside, removed that trash can lid a second time, and shook the pregnancy test out of its box. It’d been awhile since my last scare, so the lines wobbled and confused me for a minute or two, but as I drew the test closer, I saw it was negative.

 

I wondered why the girls had left the bathroom so somberly; why they weren’t congratulating their friend; why they stopped to silently watch a kickball game where they didn’t know any of the players.

 

I decided they were remembering; when they were still kindergarteners, when they high-fived their dads, when the only trash they hid was uneaten vegetables.

 

How long would it be until I wouldn’t know my daughter spent her Saturday afternoon buying a drugstore pregnancy test?

 

Because it happens so fast. All of it.

 




Touch&Know: Would You Test That Powder You Found in Your Kid’s Room?

April 30th, 2014

 

I’ve feared drugs ever since I was a kid and watched Eve Plumb in “Dawn, Portrait of a Teenage Runaway” on ABC’s after-school special series. “Dawn” even made me dread entering high school for the first time, because I envisioned all teenagers as glassy-eyed wastoids lounging against lockers with hypodermic needles dangling from the inside of their arms.

 

I gave my parents a run for their money with that fear, and spent most of the summer of ’82 threatening to not attend high school or vowing they’d lose me forever to “the drug.”

 

I was a high-anxiety child.

 

I never did turn “to the drug” or even experiment beyond your run-of-the-mill because I literally thought I would die if I took narcotics, hallucinogenics, or Tylenol.

 

Thank you, “Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway,” which by the way, should be required watching for every pre-teen.

 

Now, as a high-anxiety child turned high-anxiety adult, drugs still scare me. More because I’m hyper aware that kids are susceptible to its siren song, and that peer pressure is often a stronger drug than the drug itself (one startling study conducted by Columbia University showed that by the time they’re 17, 70% of kids say they’ve been offered illegal drugs).

 

I’ve gone through the scenarios in my head. Decided how I will protect my girls, surveil them everywhere, and answer their questions about illegal substances (THEY WILL KILL YOU DEAD AND YOU’LL NEVER COME BACK! works nicely). I’ve researched the apps that will tell me where my kids are at all times, rehearsed speeches about “choosing the right path” and ordered the “Dawn” DVD for when the time comes.

 

I want to leave nothing to chance.

 

That’s why I recently attended an event to introduce the drug testing kit, Touch&Know, which will be very quickly added to my “teen preparation pack” always in progress. My oldest daughter is 10 now, and that prep kit will be stocked to the brim come the tween years.

 

 

Touch&Know especially caught my eye because it’s used by law enforcement agencies, it tests for 22 kinds of drugs, including marijuana and Ecstasy, and it is used on the substance, not the person. So say, you found a smear of something on a bathroom counter or a nightstand, you could test it without having to confront your teen or ask them to breathe into a tube or pee into a cup. Touch&Know also tests liquids, so if you’re paranoid like me, and want to know if someone “roofied” your drink, you’ll find out quickly.

 

Even so, the thought that kept at me as I attended the event, and watched the videos, which I’ll link below, is what if you DID find drugs in your kid’s room? What then? It will obviously be revealed that you were “snooping” and that you didn’t trust him or her (for good reason perhaps), but how do you explain that breach of privacy anyway? Also, what now? Do you enter your kid into rehab? Threaten military school? I’m very interested in the what comes after.

 

I recently read an article about drug testing that helped me think through this area. The question posed to an expert was, “Doesn’t drug testing tell my teen I don’t trust him?” and the answer made a lot of sense to me. In a nutshell, the doctor responded that if you are suspecting drug use, you don’t trust your teen – in this one area. And it’s OK not to trust because drug use can get out of control quickly, with life-threatening results. If you’ve noticed a change in your teen’s behavior especially, drug testing is a safety measure, and you can explain that to him or her.

 

But still, then what if you find drugs? Again, the experts say to:

  • Be direct and calm
  • Ask open-ended, non-judgmental questions
  • Don’t get angry with what your child tells you, or the next time they won’t share with you what’s going on in his or her life.
  • Show support.
  • Give advice for how to make a better choice in the future.
  • Get your teen treatment.

The latter might depend on if the results came back positive for the first time or the fifth, but if your teen can’t stay clean, more consequences might be necessary such as a change of school or rehab.

 

While researching this topic as part of my “let’s-make-me-even-more-worried-about-the-teen-years” campaign, one approach I especially liked is to create a family drug and alcohol policy early on (for me, that would be now). As most of us probably do, start talking to your children at a young age about drugs and alcohol and explain that you’ll be developing a contract for them later on that will cover your expectations as they enter the teen years, list what specific consequences will be implemented if the policy is not followed, and details the potential for drug testing. Many studies point to positive role the possibility of drug testing can play in helping your teen avoid drugs because it gives them an out when offered something horrible, and allows them to say, “I can’t. My parents drug test.”

 

So, I don’t know. I’m collecting all of this information now, listening to parents of teens who’ve gone before me, and investigating all of my options, like Touch&Know.

 

If you are reading this and have tested your teen for drugs, I’d really like to hear what happened next.

 

Meanwhile, as for Touch&Know, this video was the one that got me thinking about how I’d handle this situation:

 

 

and most importantly, Touch&Know is for sale at Walgreen’s and doesn’t require you to send any samples back to a lab; you simply test and know.

 

It’s much better in my opinion to be proactive in this area, and drug testing probably works a whole lot better than repeated viewings of “Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway.”

 

Here’s Touch&Know on Twitter, and on Facebook.

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Touch&Know. All opinions, and references to cheesy ’70s movies are my own.

 




What To Get Your Husband For Your Anniversary

March 31st, 2014

 

I never know what to get my husband for anything. I used to try to dress him up with my holiday gifts, buying jeans and rugbies from the Gap and Banana Republic, but once he realized I was living some ’80s-Chicago-preppy dream and attempting to Jake Ryanize him, clothes as presents were off limits.

 

Then there was the year I bought him brass monkey bookends because once a guy on the basketball court called my husband a “skinny monkey;” but there’s only so far you can go with inside-joke-monkey humor.

 

Of course, he never gives me much direction with gift giving. Every time I ask, it’s either “I don’t need anything,” or completely outside-my-reach answers like, “dream basketball camp with Michael Jordan” or “Claire Forlani”.

 

So I get stuck. For the last few years, we didn’t exchange Christmas presents because it’s all about the kids and what the hell, but honestly I’d get him something if I knew what.

 

Then, this year, on the way to Thanksgiving at my dad’s place, my daughter, Booger, asked my husband what he wanted for Christmas. She had the iPad ready to type in his answers and he just responded off the top of his head the things he really wanted.

 

The number one answer? Teeth whitening. Down it went in the iPad’s note section, and I’m thinking, “Really? That would have been easy enough for you to tell me the year I bought you four cardigans with wooden buttons.” Then, he answered a bunch of other boring stuff like “underwear” and “a phone case,” until Booger interrupted with “You need a watch.”

 

Now, he’d not actually asked for a watch with his mouth, but apparently Booger had noticed that all the other dads wore watches and my husband better get with the program. I mean, he was embarrassing her with his bare wrist and non-suburban-dadness.

 

Bemusedly, my husband agreed to want a watch for Christmas and Booger closed her iPad case with a satisfied snap. I sat back in my seat smugly. Now I knew what my husband desired for Christmas.

 

Four days later to the minute, I received an email from a man who offered to send me a teeth whitening kit and a watch for review. Teeth whitening AND A WATCH. Surely the most random but wonderful combination ever, not to mention serendipitous.

 

I took him up on the offer.

 

Come Christmas, my husband was genuinely surprised that I a) listened to things he said not even directly to me without turning up the TV or unloading the dishwasher; and b) didn’t buy him anything plaid or stonewashed.

 

Now, I know this is not Christmas or even close to it, but our anniversary is coming up in a month and I’m again enlisting my daughter to ask what my husband wants because apparently she enacts some kind of truth serum response in his system. Also, I’m paying this information forward to you should you also have an anniversary approaching: your husbands probably want teeth whitening and/or a watch. And if they already have a watch, they might want one cooler. Or you want him to have one that’s cooler.

 

Same difference.

 

Here’s what I gifted my husband:

 

Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening

 

Smile Brilliant

 

You know how you go to the dentist and you pay a million dollars for everything and then think you should probably get your teeth whitened when you’re there, but it’s another million dollars? In addition and furthermore, I can barely get my husband to any appointment willingly, much less one that’s “vain.”

 

That’s why Smile Brilliant was perfect for him. The company sends you impression material so you can take molds of your teeth in the privacy of your own home and not in front of the drool basin you inevitably have to use at the dentist’s office. After you’ve taken your teeth impressions, you send in the molds and a few weeks later, you receive custom-fitted teeth whitening trays and high-velocity 22% whitening gel. It’s all private, and easy, and here’s the best part: NOT a million dollars. In fact, it’s more like not even $125.

 

In all honesty, I’ve tried to coerce my husband into teeth whitening for years, but he always balks at the price and the having to walk into an office to have it done. With this handy dandy gift, he had no more excuses. Yes, I had to be the one to apply the molding clay and attend to the drool, but these are the things us wives do, in addition to picking up wet towels and making sure our husbands don’t eat Lucky Charms or Dinty Moore every night for dinner.

 

Wood Watch by JORD

I’ve bought my husband watches before, and invariably he doesn’t like them. He has left-of-center, funky taste (enter me as his wife) and the same old watch doesn’t cut it with him. That’s how I knew he’d dig a wood watch. Plus, a watch made of “diverse woods from all over the world?” would really capture his fancy. I completely imagine a JORD wood watch worn by the most interesting man in the world, or my husband, who is a close second in his head.

 


 

Although we’re probably just like everyone else really, my husband and I like to think of ourselves as being different and unique, and these watches spoke to me for that very reason.

 

So I made Booger happy by dressing my husband up in a “suburban-dad” watch, while simultaneously making him stand out as staking his own style claim.

 

Plus, although my husband and I are well past the five-year anniversary stage, it is the “wood” anniversary and a wood watch like this would be the perfect nod to your wedded-bliss number and be functional at the same time. It’s not always easy to find anniversary gifts that do both.

 

In the meantime, I can tell you in all sincerity that I never would have thought to gift my husband with teeth whitening and a watch (hey! I should have included a card that said “I love your mouth and hands,” although he’d probably think that was an invitation to something naked), but sometimes the universe (and your daughter) has other plans.

 

I received the above products for review, but was not compensated in any other way. Furthermore,  I don’t accept products for review often or usually not really at all, so I have to sincerely like them in order to do so.