Son of a Bitch…………….

There was one thing you did not do at 282 Riverview Road in the seventies; or should I say there was something you had better do and that was fill my father’s ice cube trays.  When Steve came home from his travels as a sales engineer for a paper company, he went directly to the freezer, in search of the frozen pearls that would help keep his alcoholic beverage of choice as cold as the Northern Hemisphere.

Of course, as kids and then teenagers, we had absolutely no respect for his wishes, and this would never end well.

“Son of a B I T C H,” was all he had to say and us kids would run in thirty different directions.

“Jesus, Christ, Mary and JOSEPH, what the hell happens to my ice cubes???????  Is it THAT HARD TO FILL A G.D. TRAY WITH WATER AND PUT IT BACK IN THE FREEZER? Mary Lou!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  The kids screwed me again……son of a B I T C H!”

For some reason, (pretty sure my dad had laser vision goggles, which he would don as soon as he pulled into the driveway)….he would go from the kitchen, directly upstairs to unpack-and there he would once again become the victim of unspeakable foul play, for he would immediately notice that I, his very own daughter, had borrowed a pair of his socks!!!!!!  This would only serve to further provoke him, and for the life of me I can’t remember why I didn’t wear my own tightie whities.  Were daddy’s tube socks that big of a temptation?  Apparently so, because that scenario wreaked havoc on my weekend plans, ears, and self esteem in general.

Don’t get me wrong, that poor man never bought a thing for himself.  If it weren’t for my mother, he would have walked around in holey shoes, tattered shirts, or, God FORBID, stretched out stockings.  Steve had another quirk, and that was his propensity to find something, anything wrong when we cleaned up the kitchen.  I will never forget the hours I spent in a Bennigan’s, preaching to my sister that dad was not a monster, he loved her and there was absolutely nothing to fear but fear itself.

And so it was, that drunken evening, when my dad said goodnight on the way through the kitchen,   I gave her the nod, like, okay, now tell him you love him.

“I love you dad.”

That’s nice honey.  Don’t forget to load the dishwasher.”


Spirit Flight 666, Boarding at Gate Tarmac

Oh my God, for as long as I can remember, my brother and I have been subject to the most incredible indiscretions, abnormalities and absurdities.  Actually, it doesn’t happen that much to my husband and myself anymore (kind of a drag, we had some damn good inappropriate laughter in our day, but lately……….slim pickings.)

That was before my brother came for a visit and regaled us with his hilarious reenactment of a flight he took last Summer on Spirit Airlines.  Of course, my  husband interrupted him with a little ditty I like to call, For Christ’s sake shut your mouth.  I just sat there, smiling uncomfortably, while Dwain told Craig the story of my getting flagged by the stewardesses on our flight out to LA.  Apparently…… of the gals flagged me so I went to the next stewardess and was served a glass of wine, drama ensued and the two of them almost came to fists and cuffs….don’t remember it, but I do remember the lovely woman I sat next to all the way to LAX was most definitely  not my amigo by the end of the flight.  For all I know I could have thrown up on, cursed out or told the same story 252 times for 6 hours to the poor woman.  I digress.  The following is my brother’s story, told in Michelespeak.

Apparently, last Summer, my brother wanted to save fifty, umm, yes that is $50, by travelling Spirit Airlines.  He brought his daughter and wife across the country, from LA to PA, on what could have been a “pretend” plane.  I am terrified to fly.  I have never flown sober, and as I no longer drink, I will take care of that little problem with a joint and two Ativan.  Trust me.  So, they are at LAX, waiting, as not just once, but myriads of times-they keep delaying the flight and switching gates.  He said it was a harrowing experience, you actually have to go through a security check and there are NO FRILLS.  He and his family were so unhinged, that they trauma bonded with fellow travelers. 

So, they finally get to the final gate (at this point, they are taking a red eye and they have been running back and forth to different gates at different parts of the airport.  If you have been to LAX, you know that’s a shit ton of running.)  They are getting ready to board.  There is no gate, only steps down to the tarmac.  My brother could not believe what he was seeing.  Feeling more and more anxiety, he notices a police car by the plane, but gets distracted by the 1930’s Russian version of a prison air craft.  No lie.  The seats didn’t recline.  Everything was metal.  He said he sighed a huge sigh of relief when he noticed that the flight attendants appeared to be normal people who obviously got trough at least a few of their flights.

And, as my brother begins to calm down, the captain speaks to the passengers:

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, sorry for all of the delay.  I have been sitting in this airport for over two hours.  It appears the safety hatch on the left side of the plane was open, and by the time the authorities checked it out, well, my apologies.  We think we should be okay for the duration……………..”

Helpless, Helpless, Helpless……………

My brother came up to visit yesterday, and it was a gas, man.  We laughed until our stomachs hurt, ate gimongous cheeseburgers and red velvet cupcakes, and had real, quality time together.

I don’t do well with saying goodbye, and I spent most of the day, repeating, Please don’t leave me yet, over and over again in my head.  He stayed for a long time, and when he got ready to leave?  My heart stuck in my throat………….I am sick and tired of goodbyes.  The better your experience, the worse the downer when it’s over.

We walked down to the driveway, and he said, I don’t know what’s going to happen to the family………it broke me.  I don’t have the answers, dear brother.  But this I do know, I will love you with an everlasting love…….it’s hard to put your finger on the emotions you feel, when what’s left of your family drives down the street, on their way to Philadelphia, then LA……..but one of the hardest things?  Learning to let go, and not feel alone, forsaken, misunderstood.

So for now, let’s just say, “see you next time around.”


In My System……………

Ladies and gentleman, I am in loveeeee……………………and I owe it all to my brand new, Shark Rocket Ultra-Light Upright.  Sweet baby Jesus I am over the moon and I doubt if I’ll come down from the clouds any time soon.

We are country mice, and we have no squares to spare for things like vacuum cleaners.  However, I have had the same burber carpet for 15 years-and as I’ve been using my in-laws twenty year old Oreck vacuum, complete with holes in the outer bag-for longer than I care to admit-well, I grabbed that Kohl’s 30% off coupon and ran for the jeep before anyone could stop me.  I was a woman on a mission, and nothing, NOTHING I TELL YOU, WOULD GET IN MY WAY.

You want to know about pure hell on earth?  Try living in a small farm house with 6 cats and a golden retriever without a workable vacuum.  If you’re lucky, you won’t lose your freaking mind, and if you’re really lucky?  Well, you won’t be seen cursing a blue streak whilst kicking the shit out of said crap vacuum on your front porch in your skivvies.  True story.  I hate that piece of shit like I hate poison, and I can finally say adios!!!!!!!! you mother effer, you are banned to the land of failed household appliances, forever.

My husband just laid mouse traps, that’s right, mouse traps under my settee and behind my wood stove, as the cats were so afraid of that monstrosity?  They would literally crap their pants-or, crap my floor is more like it.

I have become such a germ phobe that I wear flip flops in my own shower, for crying out loud, after I have scoured it with Clorox.  And God forbid the shower curtain touches me, I wince in disbelief each and every time it happens.

Did I tell you my brother, mon frere, my amigo is coming tomorrow?  I may be a withered nub of nothing when he arrives, but you can bet your sweet ass my house will be clean.

Love Lives On

This has been a Summer of profound loss-and I am doing my very best to keep it together right now.  The subject matter is loss of a beloved pet, so if you want to move on, well, I understand.

We live on a farmette, seven acres of trails, orchards, gardens and cats.  At one point we were feeding 17 stray cats-we didn’t have a pot to piss in, but we fed those babies.  When you live out in the country, people drop off unwanted animals.   They come in all sorts and sizes, and the end result is always the same-we love them, they pass on, we bury them.  In the Winter of 2004, we were cat free.  During a blizzard, I happened to look out of my laundry room window-there she was, a beaten up, starving kitten.  It took months for her to acknowledge me, but I fed her twice a day and as she was full of piss and vinegar, tended to her wounds, her babies, and her voracious appetite.  We couldn’t afford to have her fixed at the time, and she was the grandmother/mother of every cat I now own.  I named her Precious, because she was just that.

The other night I awoke to an ungodly sound.  Jesse, my golden retriever and I headed for the front door-and as soon as I opened it?  The sound disappeared.  The other morning, I heard it again, even with my headphones on.  A sinking feeling in my gut, I counted each and every feline:  where was Precious?  It is impossible to check every inch of this property, but she never misses a meal, and in my heart of hearts I know she is no longer mine.  We never stop loving the animals who have passed, they are our children and the pain may soften, but guaranteed, it will put you down on your knees again: a picture, a song, or even a trip to the vet can cause a reemergence of grief.

In loving memory of Precious Hoffman.  Your heart will live on.

O Brother, Where art Thou?


I swear to God in heaven that I was going to write satire today, as I know I needed it, and maybe a few of my readers did as well.  I was preparing a little number about my husband’s hilarious bedside manner if you will.  I saved the draft, but after just promising my brother that family was off limits for my writing career, I write a blog about, well, family.

When I grew up, Craig and I were very close-he was my best friend.  Our crazy childhood was a bonding agent, and that explains why it was so hard for me to let go of him when he went out to California.  We were younger, stubborn, and hadn’t matured in the way we finally and fabulously have now.  He on one side of the country, me on the other.  When this song came out, I don’t know why, but to me it was “our” song-maybe it was the girl with the long blonde hair…..I don’t know, but I could literally feel his presence when I heard it for the first time.  It was so comforting.

When we went out to visit him ten years ago (prior to my sobriety, and I have to say-I had a blast and it was worth it) I cried from the minute he walked away, through the entire flight back home, and for weeks and weeks straight.  I was going through such a depression (alcohol didn’t help) when we came back from LA, that my therapist agreed to hypnotize me to the place I felt safest, and for whatever reason, my brother’s apartment was the scene.  It ended up to be a futility, as it turns out, I can’t be hypnotized.  (I once went onstage with 40 other people at a Renaissance Faire.  The magician was going to put us all to sleep.  Imagine my surprise when people fell over by the dozens, and I was the sole person sitting up and alert on the stage)  I felt loved and understood out there, had quality time with my adorable niece, his wife and their cats.

But I have something to say, and in our family-let’s face it-it is very difficult to talk of our feelings.  But this is on my heart, my brother, and I want you to know that I am so thankful that we made it out of the shitstorm, and back to one another.  You have always seemed to get me, and I feel a lift in my loafers at the prospect of a genuine friendship once again.  Having just one person understand you, know your entire history, appreciate your uniqueness and faults as well as your assets, well, that person is a keeper.

He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother………..