Monday, December 28, 2009


Oh lord!  What happened to my clean, peaceful, loving home?  Tension on the home front is palatable.  With both daughters home for an extended period of time, the walls are beginning to close in on me.  Is it possible that I got use to the space so quickly?

As I examine the root of the problem, I’ve come to a very simple conclusion.  Kids who leave home for the first time get use to their independence.  They think that all this “wisdom” acquired in the FOUR months they’ve been gone, entitles them to come and go as they please, not help out around the house, and look at the parent units as aliens from somewhere unknown to humankind.  Geez, would it be that painful to at least pretend that life is pretty darned sweet around here?

She was doing so well too.  She was communicating openly and expertly.  Our phone conversations, texts and emails felt meaningful.  There was no second-guessing or reading between the lines.  She shared her dreams, goals and what was going on in her life and we loved it.  What happened?  It may be possible that we are better with each other when we are not living together and that is a painful possibility.  It makes me sad.  I hope it’s not the case. 

And then there are those fleeting moments of sanity, a smile perhaps, or sitting down and watching a movie with us. These moments I silently thank my lucky stars that underneath the angst she still connects with us.

Here is what I think will happen because we are not the first family to go through this transition.  As she matures she will actually want to come and spend time with us.  Our conversations will be meaningful.  There will be sweetness in her disposition as she openly recognizes the blessings around her.  She may even see beyond her own needs and say, “oh, can I help with that”?  Better yet, she will just do without asking.  I know this to be true.  I did it.  My husband did it.  My oldest daughter is doing it. 

So, the youngest will get on board too.  That is if we don’t lose it and tear into each other in the meantime.  I’m waiting.  

Sunday, December 20, 2009


“You all weed pooty good!”  With a missing finger on his right hand, that’s what my Italian teacher, Mr. Paeri (pronounced pie air ee) would point and say after we would take turns reading from the text.  Truth was, we could read pretty good, but only understood about half of what we were reading.  At least that was true for me, one of the eager students in his Intermediate /Advanced conversation class. 

Mr. Paeri had been teaching for 50 years and by teaching standards, he was very old fashioned. Every class we’d begin reciting numbers, days, months, years, and seasons.  His reasoning? To warm up our lips to “pronounce” the words correctly. Every time he lumbered to the white board, he would use a faded red marker that strained the eyes of his more mature students, me included.  No technology in this class, just good old fashioned, teacher directed, auditory learnin’! I liked that.

Mr. Paeri was incredibly patient with us, gently correcting the improper word order or lack of noun verb agreement our brains just couldn’t seem to grasp.  Rarely would he cringe when la bella lingua was butchered by the most incredibly offensive mispronunciations!  Honestly, I wouldn’t have blamed him if he high tailed it out of the classroom to get his ears away from the cacophony of sounds that seemed offensive even to my untrained ears. Even though the class was from 7 to 10 pm on Thursday nights, I wanted to go just to hear Mr. Paeri speak and attempt to improve my rudimentary Italian.

One of our assignments was to put together a little presentation in Italian and speak in front of the entire class.  I chose to talk about a recent trip to New York complete with a slideshow of photos projected on a big screen. Teachers do not make great students and that includes me.  I signed up to present last, extending the time I needed to prepare.  And I cheated!  I just couldn’t bear not having a wonderful presentation, so I used Google translator.  Truth is I probably spent more time correcting the translator than it would have taken to write the darned thing myself.  Judging by his smile and slight nods of the head, it went ok

I enjoyed the teacher, students and class so much that I signed up for the next semester’s class with Mr. Paeri.  Much to my dismay, however, it was canceled and to this day and I do not know why.  But a visit from Italian friends and a return to the country where my husband spent half of three years, motivated me to continue.

I now have a private tutor, my husband, Gary!  There are advantages to having a mate who gives you a break on tutoring fees.  We ordered a very expensive set of cd’s to listen to on the way to work each morning.  Starting with the intermediate series, I felt “pooty good”.  Gary pleased with my progress, then ordered the advanced set of cds.  Here is where I hit a bit of a roadblock that could test the most solid of marriages.  But I continue to muddle through. Gary, in his ever-patient style has endured listening to me trying to translate in English, respond in Italian, and predict what’s coming up next, all while he must concentrate on his driving during the early morning commute.  

More than once I’ve been known to throw up a hand shushing and scolding him to silence so I can concentrate. He’s not complained once when I’ve asked him to pause the cd, rewind the cd, repeat the command or grill him on phrases that made absolutely no sense to me.  Phrases like “would you like to TAKE a cup of coffee with me?” Yet there are expressions that make me feel so genteel, like “how kind on your part!” I’ve spent many a minute mouthing those beautiful words, E gentile di parte tua, fantasizing when I may actually get to use them. 

At this age, I am no longer an ideal student. But, it’s fun and challenging to learn new things, especially when there is no concern about the grade.  And beyond the learning I have the utmost respect for teachers who have their own set of challenges to endure, trying to teach well meaning, linguistically challenged students like me.    

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Beer, A Burrito and A Bit of Comedy!

Nearly comatose!  That’s my state of being on Friday nights.  It used to be that I’d come home, cook, attend a sporting event and collapse into bed, ignoring my bodies signals to recover from a long week of work and attending to house, errands, yard, laundry and family.  No complaints, here, just stating the facts. I loved going to games and watching our kids and their friends do what kids do, even when fatigue made me resemble a glazed Stepford wife at times.  It was fun because I knew these kids and had watched them grow up.

So, when my ever-energetic husband asked me to attend the local football playoffs the last couple of weeks, I gladly declined the invitation.  Why oh why in the world would I want to move my behind out of the well worn cushy couch, to freeze it while watching kids I don’t know get pounded by other kids I don’t know, all the while trying to move an oddly shaped ball, yard by excruciatingly boring yard, down a field behind a goal line?  No can do.

My new Friday night tonic to reward myself from a productive week of work and attending to the house, yard, errands, laundry and family: a beer, a burrito and a bit of comedy.  Heaven.  My brain is bathed in just the perfect amount of dopamine to put me in a very relaxing, mildly serene state.  Nothing bothers me. No more Stepford wife, just one happy, glowing working mom, who chuckles at the silly recorded shows, enjoys not having to prepare dinner for four and can roll into bed any time I darned well please.  Sound euphoric? 

The last few years, I couldn’t imagine life on Friday nights without kids to attend to. I thought I would miss the action.  This phase of life is not without adventure.  I couldn’t live happily without that.  But Friday nights now have become sacred. It’s sweet to be able to choose what to do without selfish guilt:  cook dinner, order out?  watch TV or read? go to local game, stay home? bed at 9, bed at 11? Last night choice, order out, TV, home, bed at 11!

Here it is, Saturday morning, I’m well rested and ready for an adventure!