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Business as Usual

Dear Everyone,

Next week I will be on vacation visiting my brother in Seattle so I will NOT be responding to ANY e-mails or answering my phone. I plan to have a TOTAL break so please don't be offended if I do not respond to your constant stream of mediocre jokes or your numerous requests for my undivided attention. Please don't be upset if I seem to have abandoned our word games I will be back VERY soon. My laptop is staying at home and and I plan to give the family my UNDIVIDED attention. 

My iPad will however, be coming with me (as it would have to be surgically removed for me to leave it behind) but I will ONLY be using it to read the novels I've selected for the trip. 

OK, I admit I will probably take a peek at my e-mails, just in case there is anything REALLY super, super urgent but that will only be ONCE a day (or maybe once in the morning and once at night.) After all one can't just run away from all responsibility but obviously my response time may not be what you have become accustomed to so please understand if I do not answer your e-mails three minutes after you wrote them. 

I will ABSOLUTELY NOT be logging into Facebook; if one can't go on holiday for a week without posting every single photo and activity there is a serious problem. No, I will wait till I return to share every minute detail of foods consumed and places visited. Come to think of it though I might just play a few turns on the word games - perhaps while everyone else is watching a movie I don't want to see or having some political discussion I cannot contribute to - no sense in being bored. But I'm only going to deal with work EMERGENCIES, not your run of the mill day to day problems just crisis management. That should cut down my hours on line by at least ten percent while still maintaining the illusion that I am a VERY senior person without whom the company would collapse within twenty-four hours.

Personal stuff is another matter - I have MORE than enough discipline to stay off the internet for extended periods of time - I PITY people who clearly have internet addictions (that they refuse to acknowledge) and start hyperventilating if their iPhones or Blackberries are misplaced for a mere second. Although it does occur to me that a whole week of Facebook without my witty contributions might be quite distressing to all my FB friends. In fact my abstinence is  starting to seem like an EXTREMELY selfish act so I may have to reconsider my stance. Perhaps I will allow myself one post a day. That should keep everyone happy and since I'm often awake at 3 am my family won't even notice I'm doing it. While I'm lying there (sleepless in Seattle) I may as well finish answering all the work e-mails, that way when I get back it won't take me four days just to catch up. I mean it really makes sense. It's not that I can't let go, honestly, I just like to have all my ducks in a row.

So basically it's business as usual.


Return to Slender

Sometime last year I finally got back down to a weight that doesn't depress me every time I stand on a scale or look in a mirror. Since that first moment of EUPHORIA when I saw the needle hover on the heady number of 125 it has been a CONSTANT battle to maintain it. In fact maintaining that weight has been TWICE as hard as losing the unwanted pounds in the first place.

It is too easy to get blase and at my age it only takes a few back-to-back days of overindulgence for an extra FIVE pounds to magically appear. The trick is to weigh yourself EVERY SINGLE DAY - forget the stupid advice from diet gurus to only weigh yourself once a week - that's INSANE - do you know how much damage can be done in just one week? 

I wonder if I am the only person who talks to my scale? Well it's not really talking, more like screaming. It's a daily ritual and please note there is a tried and tested technique to weighing yourself as follows:

1. Remove every possible item of clothing and accessory - even a hair scrunchie could give you a false reading.

2. Only weigh yourself FIRST thing in the morning AFTER using the bathroom and before talking a shower because the water absorbed by your skin might make you heavier.

3. Breathe in and step gently onto the scale being careful to distribute your weight evenly.

4. Only use a digital scale.

5. Anticipate what weight you will be REALISTICALLY (before you look down) ie. if you ate six slices of cheesecake yesterday anticipate a weight that is four pounds heavier than the previous day, that way when you are only two pounds heavier you will be overjoyed and most important MOTIVATED to eat well that day and banish the new pounds.

6. If the number you see is more than you anticipated by all means jump up and down, scream, curse and kick the scale. (this will convince your spouse that you are COMPLETELY mad but at least all that activity will burn a few calories.

7. Get on and off the scale ten more times to see if you get a different result. If not change the scale battery and try again. If it's still the same face the facts - chicken broth and celery sticks for the next three days.

8. If by some MIRACLE you weigh lighter than anticipated, leap into the air, fist punching and shrieking YAY (more calories burned) and start what promises to be a perfect day determined to eat well and lose another 3 pounds. 

The purpose of being under your goal weight is so that for at least some of your life you can enjoy wholeheartedly all those evil, fattening, delicious foods without a SHRED of guilt. This is the ultimate reward and possibly EVEN more satisfying than the thrill of putting on your old jeans and finding them loose.


Tempting Fate

I was recently complaining (within my Husband's hearing) that I have nothing to write about anymore because he doesn't ever DO anything to inspire me. He was quite affronted and demanded to know if I was implying he had become boring (the worst insult of all.) This is surprising considering so many of my blogs are humorous at his expense (although he is always so good natured about it I think he secretly enjoys being the brunt of my jokes.) Anyway I cannot blame him entirely for this sad lack of material as the truth is that now Rockstar and Genius have left home and I have been reduced to shared custody of the DOG, things are a little quiet around here (no I didn't say BORING.)

Of course my job is NEVER dull and I could probably write many blogs about my life as an Interior Designer but since I would like to stay employed I will have to wait until I'm in my eighties and then write my Bestselling Novel about THOSE experiences.

Anyway, the day after that fateful pronouncement, my husband rose like a phoenix from the ashes of our mundane existence and left his prescription sunglasses in the rental car we had just given back to Enterprise. He realized he had done this when we were on the courtesy bus pulling up at Heathrow Airport for a flight that we were already VERY late to check-in for. The driver kindly radioed through to the depot and arranged for the glasses to come out to the terminal on the next bus where (in theory) my husband would wait at the bus stop to collect them. We dashed up to the check-in counter and I managed to sweet-talk the airline staff into letting us jump the queue (much to the UTTER DISGUST of all the very polite and orderly British people waiting in line.) It looked like we had averted disaster when after showing both passports and getting our seat assignments I got the all-clear from the pretty blonde Delta girl for Mufasa to go down and collect the glasses. Just AFTER he DISAPPEARED from sight and I hauled the suitcases onto the scale Miss Delta asked me for our Green Cards (did I mention she was blonde?) Of course I had no way to contact my husband with a desperate instruction to return to base as (thanks to an AT&T screw-up) he had no phone service in the UK. I was then forced to stand to the side watching all the smug people I had just bypassed giving me filthy looks as they completed their check-ins ahead of me. 

The Delta staff refused to watch the luggage while I ran downstairs to get the Green Card so ten minutes before the check-in closed I had no choice but to run through the airport like a complete MADWOMAN wheeling an overloaded cart of baggage and swearing like a trooper. I'll skip the bit about pressing all the wrong buttons in the elevator and move on to the fact that the doors eventually opened to reveal my husband grinning like a village idiot and waving the precious glasses. 

Fast forward through another agonizing chapter of pushing our way through check-in and security to arrive breathless and fraught at our gate to discover surprise, surprise the flight was delayed by half an hour. Whew, time for a coffee (or so I thought) but apparently neither Pret or Costa coffee is good enough for Mufasa it HAS to be Starbucks, so he disappeared again for FORTY-FIVE minutes on a completely USELESS quest to find the uber bean. By the time he returned I had blown my diet (started that morning) by stress eating three tomato and cheese croissants from Pret, and drinking their perfectly OK coffee.

We were the last to board (because obviously my husband can't decide he needs to use the toilet until three seconds before they close the gate) and as we settled into our seats and prepared for what I hoped would be an uneventful flight, I resolved that in future I would be content with the peace and harmony of our day to day existence and resist the temptation to goad him into undesirable behavior even if it does make a good story.


The Mother Load

Today is the day when the world acknowledges the wonderful work we do. Mothers, by default, shoulder the responsibility of raising fine young adults who will be productive members of society. This is not easy and pulling it off successfully without your little darlings hating you at the end of it takes real finesse. The burden of Motherhood is the obligation to ALWAYS put your children first, cater to their every need, protect them from danger and help make their dreams come true without raising spoilt little brats. They will then go on to produce and raise their own talented and worthwhile offspring. (Of course they won't do this the way YOU would have done it, but you will be smart enough NOT to interfere.)

Do NOT be fooled, once your children leave home the job is FAR from over. They will still require unending support whilst being highly irritated with any unwanted or unsolicited advice or help. If you are the mother of boys it is EXTREMELY important to live in a desirable location. Don't delude yourself with ideas that your sparkling personality or home baked lasagna will be enough to lure them home for regular visits. If you live in the Sunshine State or have a cool apartment in New York or London you can be sure that they will turn up several times a year with family and friends in tow; but if you happen to live in Detroit or South Dakota don't be surprised when they spend every major holiday with HER family in California.

Just like whiney needy children, whiney needy parents are unattractive. Practice being upbeat and busy with lots of interesting stories to tell whenever they happen to call and NEVER EVER imply that it has been rather a long time since they last made contact (even if it was three years ago.) ALWAYS sound surprised and pleased to hear from them because that Jewish mother guilt thing DOES NOT endear you to them or encourage them to call more often. If your own mother does this to you then you will know EXACTLY what I am talking about and if your own mother is perfect then you have ABSOLUTELY no excuse.

Mothers worry. We just can't help it. It's unavoidable, an incurable disease that we catch the day our babes are born and which slowly develops into a terrifying addiction that cannot be cured without a lot of very expensive therapy. Even when our children are independent adults and functioning perfectly well without ANY parental guidance we are predisposed to randomly lapse into neurotic mother mode and to drive our kids CRAZY over really stupid stuff. Even as we are telling them WHAT to do and HOW to do it we KNOW we sound totally RIDICULOUS but we just can't get past the place where we feel it's our duty as good mothers to do it. We can only hope that our children will learn to laugh at our nuttiness and will continue to love us anyway, as we have had to learn to do with OUR own Mothers. 

At the end of the day no matter how whackadoo we think our Moms are, if we can look in the mirror and be proud of what we see we have to acknowledge that they are at least partly responsible.


A Battle of Wheels

My car lease is up and so I need to make arrangements for a new one. In most households this would be a very simple exercise:

Go to car showroom

Select car

Spend most of the day negotiating the terms (OK not so simple)

Return home with new car

However this is not the case in our house because unlike standard domestic issues anything involving cars attracts the attention of my husband. Now in case you didn't grasp the concept from the beginning it is MY car lease that is up therefore the new car will be for ME to drive and therefore I feel that the decisions regarding this car should be MINE.


We typically lease Hondas and we are considering the CRV however the base model (which is within our budget) comes with wheels that my husband considers so HIDEOUS that the thought of having to see them on his driveway is enough to give him an aneurysm. Apparently these wheels are SO offensive to him that he cannot even contemplate driving past them each night as he puts his own car in our garage. Now although I understand aesthetics (I'm a designer after all) when it comes to cars I am a complete philistine. I can barely distinguish one make of car from another and have regularly tried to get into cars that are not my own on the basis that they are the same color and parked roughly where I remembered leaving mine. 

So do I care what shape the wheels are? NOT AT ALL. The problem is that adding the wheels that my husband wants will raise the price of the lease considerably and frankly I would rather have leather seats which we also can't afford. 

Last night things got even more complicated when Rockstar popped over to drop off the dog and joined my husband at the computer researching car options for me. Every time I voiced an opinion I got shouted down by the two of them and told that since I know absolutely NOTHING about cars I should leave this very important decision to the experts. I actually don't have a problem with them selecting my car but told them I would at LEAST like to be consulted on the color to which my husband replied "Yes Darling you can have any color you want as long as it's silver." 

Thank goodness Genius is not home because he would be adding to the complication of this decision as he does not like SUV's. He was HORRIFIED when he heard I was planning to switch my current Accord for one and in true Genius style has a whole list of well researched practical and safety facts that support his argument. Actually since he will have to drive my car when he is home from college he has more of a reason to be involved than the other two men in my life. Apparently I am now getting a Mazda or a VW as there are great deals on both and the wheel designs are not going to embarrass my husband which is only a plus because he won't mind being seen with the car when I ask him to run out and fill it with gas.

I am now starting to feel a little rebellious and am secretly planning to get a red car. Not quite sure how I will be able to get this past the car Nazis but I am willing to play dirty if need be. I have never owned a red car and as Rockstar pointed out last night I will probably be sick of the color LONG before the lease is up but I don't care, this has become a battle of wills and in at least one area I am DETERMINED to triumph.


Tomayto Tomaahhto

I don't know what is going on with my husband and I, but after twenty-five years together in relative harmony we seem to be bickering about EVERY LITTLE THING. Generally we do not argue much (perhaps one major meltdown a year) but all of a sudden we can't seem to communicate without sniping at each other over the most RIDICULOUS issues. Last week the washing machine (which has been broken for about six months) was making its eeeeeeeeeeech eeeeeeeeeeech eeeeeeeeeech noise and Mufasa insisted it was too full. When I explained that in fact it was only HALF full but needed to be fixed he got all ratty and insisted that it WAS JUST TOO FULL. 

After that unpleasant episode we moved on to other household topics that normally wouldn't merit discussion and managed to disagree on which side of the sink the wet plates should be stacked on, how often dish towels should be re-used, why we had run out of tea bags and the firm favorite - the correct temperature setting for the AC.

Considering that we both live and work together we get along AMAZINGLY well which I believe in part has been due to an early agreement that he is the boss at work and I am the boss at home. However after he had strayed into my territory and felt entitled to air his views on my appliances I felt COMPLETELY justified when I walked into his office and noticed the following errors on the rendering he was working on:

"The rug is too big and the chandelier is too small."As you can imagine this did not go down very well although he did begrudgingly make the changes.

The whole situation was very distressing, normally we spend most of our time poking fun at each other and laughing so I decided to confront him with the suggestion that he was turning into a CANTANKEROUS OLD BASTARD to which he responded that I was turning into a MISERABLE OLD WITCH. 

Things reached a crescendo last Wednesday night when he was packing for his trip to Hong Kong. I should have known it was coming when he started wildly flinging things out of the laundry basket and stomping round the house muttering under his breath. Sure enough within minutes he appeared at the foot of our bed (where I was trying to sleep) and accused Genius (who went back to college last week) of taking all his underwear. At that point I just exploded, pointing out that Genius has NO interest in Mufasa's underwear (which is black and from JC Penny) as he has his OWN underwear (which is RED and from Urban Outfitters.) As the argument reached a crescendo I desperately dialed Genius who fortunately didn't pick up and thus unknowingly spared himself from becoming embroiled in an ugly scenario with two completely crazy parents.

Unable to prove myself correct I stomped off to the guest bedroom in total disgust and lay there sulking until the Cantankerous Old Bastard finally softened and came in to make up with me. We then made a pact NOT to argue any more about stupid stuff and to go back to being KIND to each other. 

The new order has been super easy to adhere to as my husband got on a plane the following day and we are now in the throes of Lovey-Dovey-Missing-You e-mails. Nothing like a few thousand miles of separation to repair a relationship. Let's see how long it lasts once we are reunited in an eight hundred square foot apartment in Hong Kong for six weeks.


Fifty is Fabulous, Fifty is Fabulous, Fifty IS FABULOUS

Are You convinced yet?

I'm not sure if I am which is a shame because tomorrow is my fiftieth birthday. As of this moment I am still a forty-something, which just sounds SO, SO much younger than fifty. To be honest I've been dreading this birthday for at least five years which is ridiculous because as anyone (younger than you) will proclaim "It's just a number." Secretly they are dreading their OWN fiftieth birthdays but take major comfort from the fact that you got there first. 

However, I recently encountered someone who inspired me to change my approach. I met Pollyanna on our cruise to Hawaii, she is cute as pie, has a ray of sunshine personality and a positive attitude to life. She will also be turning fifty this year, but when I asked her how she felt about the impending disaster (expecting some shared commiseration and sisterly bonding chats about wrinkles and hemorrhoids) she shocked me by responding that she was INCREDIBLY excited about the Big Event and had NEVER looked forward to a birthday so much in her WHOLE life! WOW, that certainly made me think that perhaps the only thing wrong about my turning fifty was my attitude.

Meanwhile all the plans I made for my birthday have evaporated in a cloud of dust (or rather a shroud of bugs) My Dearest Darling has had a week of kidney stones followed by three days of flu forcing me to cancel both our Atlanta weekend AND my champagne birthday brunch. Fortunately my brother sent me a Nordstrom gift card with an insane amount of money on it so I have been out all morning walking round the store with a HUGE grin on my face and a bolshy attitude ie. Don't judge me by my sweaty gym clothes I can afford ANYTHING I want in this store. Nothing like a bit of retail therapy to beat the (50th) birthday blues.

This birthday is certainly a milestone and a reminder that my time here is not eternal so I had better make the most of it. So my fiftieth year resolution is Carpe Diem. After all I may not look fifty and I certainly don't feel fifty but by golly I AM FIFTY.


Kidney Stones

Men are absolutely TERRIBLE patients. A minor male cold will put considerable strain on the most stable of marriages. So if you happen to be in close proximity to a man who actually has something seriously wrong with him you have my UTMOST sympathy. Last week my husband had kidney stones. Yes I know it is very very painful but before it was even diagnosed (and we thought it was a common-or-garden backache) I knew I was in for a rough ride. Nursing is not my bag as I really don't like anything that is too needy; even houseplants annoy me because I don't want to feel obligated to water them every day. So when faced with my husband in extreme agony and wanting me to administer to his aches and pains I was ready to head for the hills. 

After the most hideous night of running up and down stairs every fifteen minutes to microwave heat packs and literally getting two hours sleep I was only too happy to decamp to the ER and let the professionals deal with the situation. Little did I know that the fun was only just beginning. This is what I have learned:

1. Don't even consider going to the emergency room unless you dial 911. The huge fee you will pay for the ambulance is well worth it to avoid the FOUR PLUS hour wait you will otherwise incur.

2. When you are finally called into Triage and asked what your pain level is (on a scale of one to ten) the answer is TEN! (or eleven.) Of course only a MAN who has kept his wife awake ALL night because his pain level is OFF the richter scale would then put on a brave face and answer "FIVE" thereby demoting himself to a class of non-urgent cases and a further two hour wait.

3. Once your case has been allocated to the bottom of the pile severe worsening of your symptoms including vomiting with blood will NOT elicit any sympathy from the medical staff or get you in front of a doctor any quicker which is why the ER waiting room is full of people writhing in agony and shouting at anyone who will listen.

4. If you have no medical insurance and are only in the ER to avoid paying a dentist to deal with your toothache then obviously you do know the system inside out and correctly answered 'ten' at the triage stage in which case you will be seen ahead of that poor bastard with (clearly undiagnosed) acute appendicitis.

Fast forward five days and thanks to the help of some powerful narcotics (which no doubt are highly addictive BUT WHO THE HELL CARES?) My husband is now fully recovered and back at work. He arrived at the office yesterday all clean-shaven and smiles, happy to tell his war story to everyone and I heard him announce  "Oh yes it was ABSOLUTELY awful, Kidney stones are more painful than labor!" 

WHAT? IS HE CRAZY? MORE PAINFUL THAN LABOR? I DON'T THINK SO. Only a man who will NEVER have to push out something the size of a BOWLING BALL through a very small hole would tell a room full of women (who have already done that SEVERAL times) that the pain of excreting something the size of a grain of rice through a slightly smaller hole was MUCH WORSE. I'm surprised he wasn't lynched on the spot but I guess allowances were made for the effect that the powerful narcotics have had on his brain. In addition women are such GOOD patients and rarely complain when sick or in pain, they save their energy for nurturing their men.