I spent twelve years in various forms of school uniforms. Plaid jumpers with knee socks and white shirts with peter pan collars, plaid skirts with knee socks, white shirts with peter pan collars and cardigans, black skirts and navy skirts with button down shirts….you get the idea. Parochial school did not have “Office Fridays” in the 1980′s and my off-time clothes didn’t have a whole lot of variety, especially in elementary school. I wore a lot of hand-me-downs, mostly from my cousin Elena. For all intents and purposes, I was a fashion “no”. Though I remember a pair of worn out jeans that had applicaqued vines and flowers up the leg that I wish I still had to this day.

For anyone old enough in The City of Presidents to remember, my mother shopped for any new clothes in The Bargain Center. Ahhh, The Bargain Center. It was that space between The Salvation Army and Marshalls. Overstock from anywhere, it was a dimly-lit labyrinth where every mom within a 50 mile radius went to buy pretty much everything – towels, sheets, every pair of brown leather mary janes I wore every year from 1st to 6th grade…an institution. My mother dragged our sorry butts in there at least once a month. My brother would complain of “dizzy spells” and collapse in towers of towels, marked $1 a piece, until she’d snap her fingers in a gesture for him to move his sorry ass and get going or get smacked for dragging his feet. Then TJ Maxx opened (“Get the max for the minimum at TJ Maxx!”). They had lay-a-way!!! And so, we moved up in the world. And The Bargain Center closed.

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, I spend a great deal of time dressing in clothes that my cousin had already worn. We spent weekends in Plympton where my cousins Elena and David lived, collecting pine cones for some craft project that never came to fruition. I suspect now that said project were ideas planted by mothers who wanted us to go outside and occupy ourselves so we’d get out of their hair. I remember collecting a whole green trash bag full of pine cones that the boy across the street stole from us and then hid it amongst similar bags of leaves. He said I could only have it back if I guessed the right bag. I was six. He was ten. A ten year old dickhead.

Anyhow, we’d come back from those trips with bags of clothes. The problem was that by around 10 years old, Elena had shot up into a tall girl like her parents, and I was fairly short. I continue to remain fairly short. Her hand-me-downs didn’t fit me anymore and my mother was forced to buy me clothes. And take us shopping with her. And we dreaded every single moment of the entire shopping experience. While my brother was having dizzy spells in piles of folded towels and clothing, I could be found hiding in the middle of the circular clothing racks, either in a ball on the floor or hanging from the bars like an orangutan. Either way, my mother was not amused. We all hated every moment of it.

These days, I do 90% of my shopping online, including groceries and drugstore items. So after all of this, how is it that I have a six year old who cannot help herself but to pull every dress, every frilly skirt, every pair of shoes off of every rack and shelf within reach to plead with me to buy it and then stand in front of any mirror available anywhere to pose in her haute couture, real or imagined?

What child is this?

I need to find a Bargain Center and drag her there every weekend until the damage is repaired.

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Posted in Hey Momma, Lifetime Of Learning | 3 Comments


My friend Jerry passed away last Tuesday very unexpectedly and suddenly. I know his family and friends have their own memories, thoughts, and personal sense of loss. Here are a few things that made Jerry my friend, why he was special, why I will miss him.

I met Jerry 13 years ago. He was a participant in an online Q&A kind of website and a bunch of us figured out we lived fairly close together and decided to met up. He was working at Rauxa, a restaurant in Somerville, and a bunch of us decided to meet up there. CS and I got there first and had some time to chat with him and get to know him. Even upon first meeting him, he was pouring wine into huge balloon Riedel Bordeaux glasses and sliding incredible food across the table. We quickly became fast friends and, over time, a few of us became a core group of close friends that would hang out ever week together. When Rauxa closed, Jerry took those Riedel Bordeaux glasses and gave them to me as a gift and then gave me more every Christmas or birthday to complete the set. They sit in my bar in my living room and we use them weekly.

In those years, he was still living at home and made a space for himself in his parents basement, hanging out watching terrible and/or funny movies with his doggie companions, Elvis and Beulah. It was always fun to call his house because his wonderful mother would always answer and we’d chat and laugh for at least 15 minutes before she’d let him know the call was for him.

He always did incredibly thoughtful things for me, in typical Jerry fashion always thinking of his friends and going the extra mile to make them feel special. He shared his love of food with all of us and normally showed his love with food. He signed a bunch of us up for the Bacon of the Month club for Christmas and we were all so excited to await our next delivery of bacon every month for the rest of the year. My love of Abe & Louie’s is widespread knowledge. For my birthday, he would stop and get take-out steak tartare for me and bring it to the bar so we could all partake. When we had my bachelorette party there, he ordered a spray of beautiful flowers from Winston’s for the table.

There are a hundred such memories, but the closest ones are from the year my mom passed away. It was February and my mom had been diagnosed with cancer just a few months before. Her health waxed and waned and I had just become pregnant with my first child but was only about 6 weeks along and hadn’t told anyone, not even my parents. Jerry knew I was feeling down and asked me if I’d like to go his employers house, where he was a personal chef, to help him make candy for Valentine’s Day. He took me to Restaurant Depot to shop first, that mythical place where the non-food professionals are not allowed to wander. Back at the house, he gave me a little tour, showing me original costumes from the Boston Ballet, answering my architecture questions, and entertaining my general nosiness. We went down to the prep kitchen in the basement and spent the next 5 hours making candy, mostly in silence. He sensed I wasn’t feeling well, he could sense my stress (though he didn’t know morning sickness was also an issue!) and he just let me be. He just let me be there with him, dipping chocolates, making lollipops, trying to let the process put my brain on cruise control for a while.

A few months later, my mom passed away. By August, I was 8 months pregnant and grumpy. For my birthday, he invited me and my friends to his house for a cookout. He bought me a bottle of rose champagne he knew I loved so much and a picnic basket full of food complete with chorizo and duck breast and love… I still remember sitting on the back deck of his parents house, laughing when I didn’t think I felt like laughing, Jerry bringing the love and the food and the friendship. After my daughter Amelia was born the next month, he gave me a carousel for Christmas, complete with lights and horses and Christmas music. It still sits on her dresser in her room and she turns it on all the time so her and Elise can spin and dance to the music.

I have since moved overseas and back again, yet in a different state. I haven’t seen or spoken to him as much as I once did. I spoke to him the week before he died. His mom passed away last month and we talked about how he was feeling, how he was doing, how his family was getting on. We talked about previous plans to meet that fell through and to try again when I was in Boston this winter. He talked about what he and Luiz were up to, Luiz’s upcoming driving test. We talked about the little mundane things friends talk about. At the end, he said “Bye, honey”. Like he did every time we said goodbye since the day I met him.

He contributed to my life in so many wonderful ways, the way a good friend does. For me, when someone dies, I tend to reflect on what they meant to me and hope that I meant something to them, hoping that I contributed to their lives and made it better or even more interesting or hopeful that they smiled at some stupid thing or other when they thought of me. That I added something in there that the relationship with me was worth the time and effort they put into it. Otherwise, what are friends for? From my personal view, I don’t think Jerry’s out there reading this but I still hope that he thought it was worth knowing me. Thank you for the wine, the food, the laughter, the carousel and the friendship.

I’ll miss you always. Bye, honey.

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Fiddler’s Green

As I roved by the dockside one evening so fair
To view the salt waters and take in the salt air
I heard an old fisherman singing a song
Oh, take me away boys me time is not long

Wrap me up in me oilskin and blankets
No more on the docks I’ll be seen
Just tell me old shipmates, I’m taking a trip mates
And I’ll see you someday on Fiddlers Green

Now Fiddler’s Green is a place I’ve heard tell
Where the fishermen go if they don’t go to hell
Where the weather is fair and the dolphins do play
And the cold coast of Greenland is far, far away

Now when you’re in dock and the long trip is through
There’s pubs and there’s clubs and there’s lassies there too
And the girls are all pretty and the beer is all free
And there’s bottles of rum growing on every tree.

Where the skies are all clear and there’s never a gale
And the fish jump on board with one swish on their tail
Where you lie at your leisure, there’s no work to do
And the skipper’s below making tea for the crew

Now I don’t want a harp nor a halo, not me
Just give me a breeze and a good rolling sea
I’ll play me old squeeze-box as we sail along
With the wind in the riggin to sing me a song

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No Mas!

Here we are at the end of the longest summer ever and could I just say that 2012 can go right ahead and shove it? Shove it, 2012! There. That should set things right.

I may have mentioned some of the following things already. Que sera.

We tried to sell our house in Boston and the buyers backed out 2 days before passing papers so then we had to come up with a mortgage payment in 48 hours. Yippee! We did get it rented for this month and I am hopeful that our new house tenant is a good guy because I want to be happy and I want him to be happy. And I really didn’t want to be a landlord. So here’s hoping that all goes well for the next year or so.

My brother is also getting married in a few weeks. I am Best (wo)Man and the IMP are flower girls. I had a bit of trouble getting dresses but they are finally here. With a few hems and addition of straps on my sleeveless dress so it doesn’t come tumbling down, we’ll all show up in one fairly less disheveled piece than was projected last week. I also have to write a Best (wo)Man speech. I’ve been thinking about it for over a month and having some serious writer’s block. It’s making me anxious, quite frankly.

We are having a joint birthday party for the girls this Saturday and have rented their very own bounce house for the backyard. I will also be bringing them cupcakes to school on their actual birthdays and we will have presents and more cake for the family after dinner on their birthdays. So, this Friday for Amelia it’s school cupcakes, then cake and presents at home, followed by a joint party with their friends the next day (and more cake!). Then 10 days later, Elise gets her school cupcakes and evening festivities and we all sleep off the sugar crash.

A few days later it’s up to Boston for the wedding with fingers crossed that the two of them don’t just run through the church pews screaming during the vows, ripping dresses and tossing petals everywhere. The reception is outdoors so I think I can speak for all involved when I ask the weather gods for a nice evening. Then I collapse in a heap. But not for long because it’s bidding season so we have started rolling the Bid List dice for the last 2 months to see where the Powers That Be will make me move to in 2013. Have I mentioned that I am 39 but look not a day over 63?

Next up – Halloween costumes, holidays with the family, and buying last minute Christmas presents. And alcohol in copious amounts. Ta-da!

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100 Things

I wrote this over seven years ago and just found it hanging around under my private post archives. Most of these things are still true. My life has changed, but I remain the same for the most part. I haven’t changed any of it, just publishing it to a public post because, you know, why the hell not?

Here it is, because everybody’s doing it.

  1. I got married last year to a man who is my very best friend and I am always in love with him.
  2. I love dogs and my last one passed away recently. The one thing I wish I had most in the world is a dog.
  3. I bought my first house with my husband last year.
  4. I do not feel that I am “grown up” enough to take care of a house, all the bills, etc. I do it, but I hate every waking moment of it.
  5. My wedding ring and engagement ring have sapphires as the main stone.
  6. I have one brother and he is 2 years younger than me. I often feel that he is a better person than I am.
  7. I do not exercise but know I should. I really hate the gym and have never gone more than a handful of times.
  8. The more time I spend on a computer the worse my spelling and my grammar become. There was a time that both were perfect.
  9. I am not fond of children and there are only a handful that I can actually tolerate for more than a few minutes – a few of these children I find quite likable.
  10. I despise my job and, like everyone, I’m having a hard time finding another one.
  11. I have an Easy-Bake oven on my desk and cake and brownie mixes in my drawer.
  12. I also have a Pope in a Snowglobe from the Vatican, blessed by Pope John Paul II. So, I can make it snow on the Pope…verra cool.
  13. I have only been to another continent once when I went to Spain, except for my trip to the top of South America in Costa Rica.
  14. I twirl my hair to the point that it irritates even me.
  15. I smoke too much, but I really like to smoke.
  16. I don’t drink as much as people think I do. I see my friends, but usually I have only a couple of drinks – maybe one every 45 minutes to an hour.
  17. I lay in bed for about an hour and a half before I fall asleep no matter what time I go to bed.
  18. Rats are the only animals I am afraid of, especially those big water rats. shudder
  19. I do not like window shades or wallpaper.
  20. My face is very non-symmetrical. I couldn’t get plastic surgery because I still don’t think it would look ‘right’.
  21. I really do not like having my picture taken and will normally hide when a camera is around.
  22. If I could choose my parents, I’d choose the same ones.
  23. I love the water and like to be near it all the time.
  24. Even though I don’t like the winter, I still don’t want to move from Boston.
  25. But I complain about the weather here all the time.
  26. I don’t have a sweet tooth, I have a fat tooth – dairy and meat and nuts….mmmmmm…..
  27. I love to go see local bands, but I don’t do that often.
  28. If I don’t think I can accomplish a task perfectly, even if it’s just a hobby, I normally won’t bother doing it at all.
  29. Most of my friends are men. I find women catty and dishonest. I have split with most of the close women friends I’ve ever had.
  30. I thought turning 30 would bother me, but it didn’t. So far, so good.
  31. If I could be anything, I would love to work in forensics. I know it isn’t all Hollywood glamour, but figuring out fingerprints, blood samples, fibers – just researching to a definitive goal must be so rewarding.
  32. I’ve never had a peanut butter and banana sandwich, but I’ve always wanted to try one.
  33. I’ve always wanted to be a better cook, but never had the time. Maybe if I had more time to cook….?
  34. My favorite car is a 1963 Corvette.
  35. I am a bit of a mutt – mostly Irish with a smattering of Scandinavian, Welsh, maybe Sioux….
  36. If I ever get fed up with life, I’d probably just move to Maine, work in a bookstore and have a house full of dogs.
  37. I do love the city, though. Quiet makes me anxious.
  38. My lucky number is 21.
  39. My favorite color is black because it goes with everything.
  40. My favorite flowers are lilacs. I think they smell heavenly.
  41. I love the funny papers and believe that they are one of the greatest simple pleasures of life.
  42. I also love ice cream and frappes. I wish I had some ice cream everyday – no berries, please.
  43. I love eating out and feel that bad wait service can completely ruin an otherwise wonderful meal. If you hate it, go do something else for work. Gee Zus.
  44. My hair is going gray but I don’t want to dye it because I’m too lazy to keep doing it and then it will really look like hell.
  45. I’ve always wanted to learn how to play the drums.
  46. I’m on the fence about getting my motorcycle license. I think I’d miss being a passenger and getting to look around and relax.
  47. I drink my coffee black, but will drink it if it comes with cream and sugar. I won’t drink it if it comes only with cream or only with sugar.
  48. I wish I was taller. Tall people fascinate me. I usually stare at them like they’re freaks but I’m really thinking “Man, I wish I was that tall.”
  49. When I was young, I went to Mass every Sunday. I haven’t been to Mass since I was 12.
  50. I walk very fast and people always yell at me “Slow down, Speed Racer!”
  51. I am afraid of being poor.
  52. I have never had any substantial amount of money of my own.
  53. I have been employed since my 14th birthday and my first job was McDonald’s. I worked there for a year and a half.
  54. I always wondered if I kept working there, maybe I’d own a franchise and be loaded by now.
  55. I’ve also worked in a fish store, a dry cleaner, an insurance company, a retail store and a tech company. The fish store was the easiest, but I stunk to high heaven after my shift. But, free scallops!
  56. I am thinner than I should be. I come from a thin family but I eat whatever I want. Genetics will run out on me someday….
  57. I cannot tan. My skin is so pale that I burn, get sun poisoning, peel, and I’m back to white.
  58. If I ever get plastic surgery, it will be an eyelift. My eyes are very droopy. They droop in the corners and underneath, like a bassett hound. Attractive, no?
  59. I’ve always wanted to go on an African safari. I’m afraid everything will become extinct before I get there.
  60. I wish I was a better photographer. I enjoy it but I’m not very good at it.
  61. I’m terrible at math. It’s the only subject I wasn’t good at and I still can’t even add numbers in my head.
  62. I have a lot of food cravings:chicken coconut thai soup, steak tartare, ice cream, chocolate milk, rootbeer floats, my mother’s lasagna, her mac and cheese, her roast beef, and her stuffing, my aunt’s tapioca pudding…mmmmmm…hungry…..
  63. I think my mother is a good cook but she rarely eats anything. Her lasagna is the best but she’s never had it.
  64. My father wanted to name me Deirdre. My mother was afraid people would name me DeeDee or Diarrhea.
  65. My parents have always have a pool table and I like to play so I should be a very good pool player. I’m not. I am also a sore loser.
  66. I don’t like to play team sports. I am too competitive and get angry with fellow teammates. Again, I am a sore loser.
  67. I went to Catholic school for 12 years and I’m very glad. I received a wonderful education there.
  68. I started out as a Marine Biology major in college. I graduated as an English major with a technical writing concentration. Go figure.
  69. I wish I red hair. Not orange red, but a snazzy auburn red, like a summer sunset red.
  70. I had to take typing in high school and I could type 120 words a minute. I forgot how and now I use the 2 finger method.
  71. The word I most often incorrectly type is ‘the’ – I type it ‘teh’. It’s infuriating.
  72. I hate shopping and buy most things on the internet just so I can avoid stores – books, clothes, shoes, beauty products – you name it.
  73. No matter how hard I try, I cannot eat with chopsticks. I do try though and I usually end up making a mess. It’s been a 15 year work in progress.
  74. I absolutely hate washing dishes by hand. It is my #1 least favorite household chore.
  75. I’ve wanted a tattoo for 13 years, but I don’t have one yet. My father said it would make me look like a ‘nasty broad’.
  76. I bruise easily and a lot. I can’t remember where half of them come from but I have black and blues all over. I crash into everything.
  77. I started an Environmental Group at my high school. It took 6 months to get them to put cans in the recycle bin. Small victories…
  78. I like watching hockey, baseball and sometime basketball. I will not watch football or soccer.
  79. I love nature shows and cooking shows, old cartoons and The Simpsons. My guilty pleasure is the Anna Nicole show. I can’t believe she actually functions on any level.
  80. Scariest movie scene: when the clown comes out from under the bed in Poltergeist. I was about 7 or 8 when I saw that and it scared the hell out of me.
  81. I have no artistic ability of any kind. Even my stick figures look terrible.
  82. There are 2 kinds of people in this world: Elvis people and Beatles people. I am an Elvis person.
  83. I don’t like sugar in my iced tea.
  84. I have never had a speeding ticket.
  85. I have blue eyes. They’re more of a gray-blue than a real blue-blue.
  86. I love mayonnaise and put it on everything – steak, chicken, ham, baked potatoes, french fries, hot dogs, hamburgers. Hellman’s, please.
  87. If I didn’t have to work I’d work as a volunteer for the animal shelter.
  88. I hate wedding and baby showers. They’re just shakedown for gifts. Take the check and leave me in peace!
  89. I do not like to share, especially my food. In elementary school, I would lick whatever I had brought for a snack so no one would ask me to share. Get your own damn Snickers bar, you mooch! On occasion, I will still do this and may resort to slapping wandering hands that come near my plate.
  90. I don’t like Starbuck’s coffee because I think it tastes burnt. I am a Dunkin Donuts girl by nature.
  91. I will not drink diet tonic under any circumstances and heavily prefer Coke to Pepsi.
  92. I like saying ‘tonic’. It confuses people from California.
  93. I’ve been to California and I like the San Francisco area but not the San Diego area.
  94. I am sarcastic, cynical, and not what you’d call a ‘people-person’ as I think most people are assheads. But, of course, I love you! Oh, yes I do.
  95. I have 7 email addresses. I use 4 of them daily.
  96. I am allergic to cats and I generally don’t like them. I’ve met one or two cool cats and that’s because they acted like dogs.
  97. My dream vacation is to go to Australia for a month.
  98. I enjoy hand-writing letters to people, but I don’t often do it anymore.
  99. Sometimes I use British English spellings for things and I have no idea why – flavour, colour – no sense at all.
  100. Writing up lists beats the hell out of working.
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