Tag Archives: suburbia

What are you afraid of?

fear2When I was little, I was afraid of the dark. No, not the creatures that lived in the dark closet or the monsters who hid in the darkness under the bed – I was afraid of the lack of light itself. It hung in the corners at bedtime, waiting for my parents to kiss me goodnight and leave my room. As they crossed the threshold, it slid down the walls and crept across the floor until slowly, oh so slowly,  it reached the foot of my bed. I would huddle in a ball by the head of the bed, eyes opened so widely I feared they would fall out, lips pinched tight against screams and tears, until finally the darkness reached out to touch a toe, and I’d let loose with a shriek that “it’s coming to get me!”

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image credit to waxycamera.wordpress.com

I’m not quite sure why it scared me so. Maybe it was because I thought the darkness was a monster – a dark, oily blanket that swallowed everything it touched. Maybe it was because my overactive imagine could hear it whispering (it was just my imagination, wasn’t it?). Whatever the reason, I slept with the hall light on until I left for college (Just kidding. Maybe).

As an adult* I’m proud to say that I’ve outgrown my fear of the dark. What? No, that’s not a nightlight in my room. I mean, it IS a nightlight, but it’s not because I’m afraid – it’s because I’m clumsy. I need a light to help me avoid corners and legos and other little bits of clutter that reach to trip me on my way to the bathroom.

As a mother, I’m no longer afraid of the dark – there are scarier things than monsters that live in the closet or under the bed. Things like dangerous playgrounds filled with too tall ladders, slippery slides and swings without seatbelts and germ-laden ball pits and suburban soccer moms and snack duty and PTA meetings and awards ceremonies and school plays (as the mother to a child who was in a continuous growth spurt, school plays were always accompanied by a muttered prayer please don’t let her fall off the stage, please don’t let her fall of the stage…).

But there’s nothing, in all my years of phobias and fears (rational and irrational), that has scared me more than two little words. Two words that can bring me to my knees, eyes shut and heart pounding. You laugh, but trust me, these two words can send a grown man screaming from the room. I don’t like to speak for other people (I can hear you laughing – stop it!), but I’m pretty sure I can speak for parents everywhere, when I say there’s nothing scarier than these two little words:

“I’m bored”.

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image courtesy of pictures88.com

Every parent responds differently to “I’m bored”. I’ve heard everything from “You have a whole room of toys, how can you be bored?” to “When I was your age, I didn’t have time to be bored”. Evidently some adults have forgotten their childhood – how the days stretched on for hours, and summer seemed endless. On the first day of vacation, my friends and I would race outside after breakfast,  to play tag or ball or hopscotch or ride bikes until the streetlights turned on– and eventually, the newness of summer would morph into endless repetition and we’d be…bored. Please note, I’m referring  to the definition of bored as “To make weary by being dull, repetitive, or tedious“– I don’t want to suggest that, in an attempt to relieve our boredom, we’d bore holes into each other (if only because our dads locked their tools in the garage).

I know what you’re thinking. We’re a month past winter break and summer is a lifetime away – so why was I reminded of the chill of these two little words?

Because

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As a kid, I was too busy to be bored. As a college student, there weren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, so boredom was out of the question. As “someone’s wife” I was a hyphenated woman (wife/masseuse/biller/coder/actor/comedian/cook/housekeeper) and much too busy following Cosmo magazine’s challenge to “do it all and do it all well” to be bored. As a pregnant woman (and then new mother), I was too sleep deprived to be anything but tired (which rapidly evolved into being too busy to be bored). Now that I’m the parent of a not-quite 17 year old, my life is becoming my own once again, and I’m bored, bored. B-o-r-e-d.

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Boredom is dangerous, because she usually brings along her friends apathy and despair.  The three friends like to grab you by the hair and drag you down the grey-bricked road to depression.

Because I’m a Virgo, I immediately researched the symptoms to and remedies for boredom. The internet provided a whole slew of images and ideas.

 

This one made me laugh:

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but only because I would follow Boredom all the way down the grey-bricked road to  limbo before doing chores to break her.

And then I got an email from DailyOm.com** telling me that The sense of feeling bored in life can be an indicator that we need to be proactive in creating change” (I love it when the universe/God/the Goddess/the force dumps an answer in my lap). So it looks as though I am looking to change, which is not as easy as looking FOR change. I hate change. It’s hard, but I suppose it’s not as hard as being dragged down a brick road by your hair.

The bad news is that I’m not sure I know who I am, now that I’m not just “someone’s wife” or “someone’s mother”. The good news is that I’m returning to the things I did BM (Before Motherhood) and I still love them. The best news is that I may be bored, but at least nobody’s drilling holes into my abdomen – or my brain.

So tell me – what do you do to combat boredom? And how do you being to change, when your inner child is kicking, screaming and going limp at the very idea?

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*I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again – what is a dult and why would anyone want to be one?

**The DailyOM is amazing. Really and truly. If you’re not following them, you should be.

To Twist or not to Twist, that is the question…

I am several days behind on the Blogging101 “Blogging: Learning the Fundamentals” course. I thought about hitting more than one lesson a day until I’m current. I am tired, fighting a cold and have writer’s block, so it sounds like too much work for today. For now, I will work one lesson at a time. It’s nice back here. I’m so far behind I think I’m first!

Day Two: Make Sure You Love Your Title

I thought about changing my blog’s title when I realized that my blog needed a reboot. I considered it for a nanosecond (not to be confused with nana second, the length of time it takes your grandmother to realize that you are Up To Something).

images7My instincts whispered that I should keep my title, and I ALWAYS listen to my instincts.*

In truth, I could have used a guide to suburbia when I first moved here. There are books about what to expect your first year of marriage, what to do when you’re expecting, how to handle the toddler years, but I couldn’t find one on how to survive suburban soccer moms in minivans or how to avoid joining the PTA PTSA.

The suburbs are scary, even if you have some sort of experience with them. I grew up in a small town (the same small town we live in now), but after a few years in the city I was afraid to buy a house in the suburbs, and not just because the houses all looked alike. 

There were too many perfect parents with perfect children living in perfect houses with perfect yards. TBH I spent the first month looking in the closets and under the bed for my Stepford duplicate.

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The good news is that, with a little bit of detective work, I was able to find my tribe – the suburbanites who don’t quite fit, the parents with a slightly skewed sense of humor, the PTA moms who wear black to back to school night, the parents who go Drink or Treating on Halloween and the suburban soccer moms who drive jeeps instead of minivans.

Suburbia isn’t quite as scary when you twist it to suit you. Trust me.

I like my blog title and tagline, but I am open to suggestions. Let me know if you think of something that would be better suited.

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*I almost said that with a straight face

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello World!

 

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I’m participating in the Blogging101 “Learning the Fundamentals” course. This post is in response to “Day 1 – Welcome to your first day of blogging!” prompt.

I have a confession to make – I’m not a new blogger.

I have a second confession to make – I’ve taken (well, started) this course before. I didn’t finish it last time. I think I stopped just after I introduced myself.

So why am I taking the “Learning the Fundamentals” course? First, because (until last week) I haven’t blogged in months, and my skills are dusty and rusty. Second, because I’m lazy. I love writing, but only when my muse delivers a perfect piece. My blogging, like my other writing ventures (fiction/journaling/correspondence to friends and family) has been a series of starts, stops and missteps.  I am cautiously hopeful that taking the Blogging 101 course will give me the tools I need to write more consistently. Last but not least, in reviewing my posts, I realize that my posts have taken a turn for the dark side.

When I began blogging, I planned on following in the footsteps of my heroes – Erma Bombeck, Tracy Beckerman, Glennon Doyle Melton and the like. Women who juggle work, parenting, marriage and everything else that comes with being an adult* with sense of humor (mostly) intact. I wanted to write about surviving the wilds of suburbia and perils of parenting without losing myself in the process.

That was my plan. Of course, you know what Robert Burns said about the best laid plans of mice and men…I made plans, and the universe laughed. As I struggled to deal with the things that life threw my way, my posts became darker and a little depressing (even though I always tried to put a positive spin at the end). My blog needed a reboot.

So I have decided to take a mulligan. I may not be a brand new blogger, but this is a brand new blog.**

Hello, my name is Tracey, and I’ll be your tour guide to surviving suburbia with sanity somewhat intact. The suburbs can be scary, but we can get through them together. Don’t forget to bring a flashlight, a compass and a red solo cup – it’s going to get twisted in here.

So tell me – who are you and why are we here?

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* What is a dult, and WHY would anyone want to be one?

**Well, newish

On Writing (or, why I do that thing I do)

th5HHDH7O9A friend asked me why I blog. Fortunately I had just been forced to come up with a reason when I received my Liebster Blog Award, but he made me think. Yes, I write to keep the voices quiet and to keep the EIC at bay, but there’s more to it than that. I write because I have to. It’s something I’ve done for as long as I can remember. I write because my grandmother told me I should (I still hear her telling me “You should write” in her strong Lon Guyland* accent). Mostly I blog because the stresses and losses of the past year(s) didn’t kill me, but they managed to kill my creative spirit. Fortunately, my creativity, like Wesley, was only MOSTLY dead.

My mother introduced me to Erma Bombeck’s column in the newspaper. For those of you too young to remember, a newspaper was something that was delivered to your house by a boy on a bicycle. It had articles on world and local news, local events, coupons, obituaries, advice columns (Ann Landers anyone?) and comics (which were especially fun on Sundays, when they were in color).

Erma Bombeck was my role model. She was smart and funny, and offered important life lessons on surviving suburbia with sanity mostly intact.

She’s the real reason I write. I want to be Erma Bombeck (well, not literally, because she’s dead). I want to help other people survive suburbia. It’s an intimidating task, not only because suburbia is Truly Frightening, but because I am one of many voices. There are many bloggers who post about the perils of the suburbs.  Tracy Beckerman  is one of my favorites – not only because she has a great name, or because she gave me an ego boost (and gift basket) when I talked about becoming an  Accidental Mother. Her posts make me laugh out loud.  I used to let the competition keep me from writing. The EIC tried to convince me that there were already a lot of bloggers out there, and that I couldn’t possibly write as well as they do. He told me that even if I could write as well as they do, I didn’t have anything new to say.

The EIC, was lying, of course. In my personal experience bloggers are not competitive  – at least not the ones I’ve had the privilege to meet. They are warm, welcoming and supportive. They cheer each other on whenever there’s a success, and mourn losses together. They are quick to offer support, advice and constructive criticism. More importantly, I have started to find my own voice. Yes, I am one of many, but I might just have something new to say. I’ve decided that even if I don’t, perhaps I can offer a fresh perspective, or twist suburbia so that it’s not quite as scary (Ha! See what I did there?) .

I’ve been trying to write 2-3 times a week, but just wasn’t up to it this week. This week was a rough one. The triple Ds tried to drag me down. No, not “the girls” (I’m not THAT blessed). I’m talking about Doubt, Despair and Depression. My creative spirit got caught in the fog, but the today the sun is shining through.

I believe that Life is a teacher, and that we are meant to pass along what we’ve learned. This, then, is the real reason I write. I’m not saying that I know everything (please don’t ask me about statistics or string theory), but I’d  like to share I’ve learned so far. It may not stop you from making mistakes, but (hopefully) you can avoid making the same mistakes I’ve made. Avoiding my mistakes will allow you  the freedom to make BRAND NEW MISTAKES. 😉

This week’s life lesson was a reminder that yes, life is a rollercoaster ride. Sometimes it’s important to get out of the car and dance through life instead.

 

*Long Island

So that’s why I write. What brings you here? What drives you to you write/dream/create?

 

The Other F-word

Confession[1]I have a confession to make. Seeing that I’m not Catholic and am extremely adverse to sitting in small rooms talking to strange men, I will make my public confession here. As soon as I can work up the nerve. Ok here goes –

I swear. A lot.*

This should come as no surprise to those of you who read my blog. Just last week, I admitted to swearing like a fleet of sailors. It certainly comes as no surprise to my friends and family. I have been swearing since I discovered the power of four letter words while I was in high school. My family and neighbors were regularly…..entertained (for want of a better word) by slamming doors and foul language screamed at the top of my lungs. I am (slightly) embarrassed to admit that my language hasn’t improved much since high school.  I will say, however, that I no longer slam my bedroom door (but only because my door is hollow and refuses to slam in a satisfying manner).

I use the F-word more often than any Responsible Adult should (which is not really a problem, since I admit to being neither), especially now that I am a suburban soccer mom who is raising an impressionable young teen. It is what it is. I find satisfaction in using the word, whether because it still holds shock value, or because I can’t find another word that expresses my feelings of impotency and frustration when dealing with the struggles that come along with this crazy rollercoaster we call life.

I think that I am finally giving it up for another F-word. It’s not a four letter word, but it does share similar qualities. People talk about it all the time, usually in hushed tones. Like my favorite F word, it makes people uncomfortable. Unlike my favorite word, this one’s power comes from something more than shock value.

I’m talking about forgiveness

From Miriam Wesbter:

forgiveness

noun for·give·ness \-ˈgiv-nəs\

Simple Definition of forgiveness

Popularity: Bottom 50% of words
  • : the act of forgiving someone or something

  • : the attitude of someone who is willing to forgive other people

I was amused but not surprised to find that the popularity of forgiveness is less than 50%. It’s a rough one. I would like to be able to say that, as an enlightened and loving being, I am quick to forgive and forget. I would like to be able to say it, but I can’t (well, I CAN, but I would be lying). I have been reminded, repeatedly, that forgiveness is powerful, life-changing, and very important to our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.

I have learned that, if you refuse to listen, Life will knock you down until you do – so this time, I am listening. I hope you do, too. Don’t forget the most important part of the lesson – forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting, it means remembering and letting go

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*I was overjoyed to find out that Classysassycrazy shares my fondness for four letter words

 

 

The Game of Life

unnamed[1]My 15 year old played The Game of Life the other day*

“It’s really fun – we should get it.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that Life is nothing like life. Life is a lot of things, but (mostly) life is a four letter word.

 

Those who know me know that I swear like a sailor, like a shipload of sailors, like a fleet of sailors. For those of you who don’t know me, welcome to my world! I’m Tracey, and I’ll be your guide. I grew up in Camarillo, home to the old and insane.** Being neither, I moved away to seek my fame and fortune in the wilds of Los Angeles (I didn’t find fame or fortune, but I did find a big bear who followed home).  Being both, I returned to Camarillo. I live with two kids (the one I birthed and the one I married) and no cats, because they make me sneeze and wheeze. Plus, they’re cats.

Where was I? Ah yes, swearing. I’ve been a fan of four letter words since I was young and thought I knew it all. Now that I’m not and I don’t, I have learned some brand news ones, which I would love to share with you.

Today’s word is life

From Miriam-Webster

Life noun \ˈlīf\

  • : the ability to grow, change, etc., that separates plants and animals from things like water or rocks
  • : the period of time when a person is alive
  • : the experience of being alive

That’s the dictionary’s definition.

Life is so much more. Like most four letter words, it’s messy and foul, and I often find myself using other four letter words when it doesn’t go the way I want it to. It’s also amazingly beautiful, if you know where to look.

I think I’ve discovered the secret to life – she’s a BITCH (Beautiful, Interesting, Terrifying, Childlike and Hard) who wants us to grow and change. She’s a fierce teacher, who will knock you down if you’re not paying attention. She’s also an amazing companion who can take you for a wild ride, if you let her.

I made the mistake of letting Fear scare me away from living last year. This year, I’m getting in the car, taking the top down, and letting her drive.

I think Vivian Greene put it best:

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So, tell me. What life lessons have you learned? Did you choose to learn them the easy way or the hard way?

 

*Ok, it was last month. Time is a wibbly-wobbly, timey wimey thing

** Camarillo used to be home to Camarillo State Hospital (now CSUCI) and Leisure Village (Leisure Village is still there. I live down the street)

 

 

Who wants to be a grown up?

imagesCA28L5BBMy goal for 2016 was to write 3 times/week, with a new post every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  The first week went well (other than the fact that I kept finding spelling and grammatical errors AFTER I hit “submit”). Today is Saturday. The weatherman called for a new storm, and I planned on spending the day in my pajamas enjoying the sound of rain,  writing and reading and (maybe) putting away the remaining bits of Christmas. I have a nekkid tree in my living room, but it’s not bothering anybody, and it makes me feel connected to my inner tree hugger.*

I’m having a hard time writing today. I blame the weatherman, his promised rainstorm didn’t appear, which has thrown me off completely. Instead of pouring a cup of coffee and sitting down to the computer in my pajamas,  I slept in, played on Facebook, read a little, met a girlfriend for coffee (not in my pajamas) and took the teen to the library. Now here I sit, thinking of all the things that I need to do . My Christmas lights are up, there are dishes to put away, laundry to be done, and OH LOOK THERE’S A SQUIRREL!!

I think the hardest part of being an adult is that we are forced to choose between Things That Need Doing and Things We Want to Do. I hate it. I love my life, I love the people in my life, and I can tolerate my job (work is, after all, a necessary evil, but it is still a four letter word). Yet still I sit, waiting for the rain, wishing that I had run away with Peter Pan when I was still young – or that I was Cathy Rigby, who has been telling us “I won’t grow up” for decades (for those of you too young to know, she’s been playing Peter Pan for eons).

What do you do when you have to choose between things that Need Doing and Want to Dos? How do you write when your brain rebels? Why don’t I see typos until my post as been up for hours?

*does having an artificial tree make me a fake tree hugger?

 

 

 

 

 

Luck and other four letter words

Four_Leaf_Clover_03[1]In my year-end review of my blog, I noticed that I’ve spent a lot of time writing about four lettered words. It’s only fair, seeing that I USE a lot of four letter words. Well, not A LOT, but, well….yeah, a lot. A lot more than my mom ever used, at least. That’s only because she COULDN’T swear (trust me, she tried. It always made us laugh).

I’ve written about Hope, Help, Life and other four letter words, but there’s another word that’s been on my mind lately. It’s a four letter word ending in  uck (no, not that one, even though I used it yesterday when I kicked the couch and almost broke my toe). The word I’m thinking about is Luck.

Even though the past few years have been….eventful, I consider myself very lucky. My BFF said “Yes, you have had a ton of luck – all of it bad.” I had to disagree. If not for angels working overtime and an amazing amount of good luck (and support from friends and family) I would not be here. Well, I’d be here, but, seeing that I have only a slim grasp on my sanity, it would be bad. Fortunately, I live in Camarillo. Unfortunately, the State Hospital is now a university, and they look at you strangely when you show up on campus looking for drugs medication.

ANYWAY. Back to luck. There is good luck, and bad luck, beginners luck and the luck that comes from the rabbit’s foot in your pocket (which wasn’t very lucky for the rabbit, and he had four). We’ve had mixed luck, so I was hoping for ways to get lucky. FYI,  people also look at you strangely when you tell them that you’re looking to get lucky and that you’re willing to pay for it (special thanks to officer Mike, for the ride home).

Lo and behold, this morning as I was listening to Valentine and his crew, they took calls from people who had superstitions traditions to ensure a lucky year.

My BFF tried to break my cycle of misdirected luck by forcing me to eat pickled herring. She made me eat two helpings – one for me and one on my husband’s behalf (the lucky man stepped outside when she opened the jar). My girlfriend assured me that the bigger the piece, the luckier I would get, but it certainly didn’t work when I got home ;-O

The callers had a whole slew of traditions. Colombians believe that running around the block with an empty suitcase will ensure travel.

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I ruled that out right away. With my bad knee, the only place I’d be going is to the hospital. I ruled out jumping off a chair at midnight (literally “leaping” into the new year) or climbing a ladder after drinking all night. Drinking and running/leaping/climbing seems risky.

Food seemed to be a safer bet. People in the south believe that eating greens and black eyes peas guarantee a good year. Personally, I find black eyed peas only slightly more appetizing than pickled herring. Another choice is to eat a dozen grapes at midnight, (one with each “bong” of the clock) to ensure 12 lucky months. There are several problems with that idea – who has a clock that chimes any more? What if the grapes are too big, or have seeds? Food is risky.

I was able to find a couple of Colombian traditions I’d like to try, but they will have to wait until 12/31/2016 at midnight.

The Brits have a tradition I can try next month. According to the caller a person should say/repeat the word “rabbit” “rabbits” or “white rabbits”, or some combination thereof (including, according to the caller, “rabbit bunny bunny”) out loud upon waking on the first day of the month, because doing so will ensure good luck for the duration of that month.

I’m going to give it a shot, but it might kill my husband. The last time I mentioned rabbits, it died.

images[7]So tell me, what are some of your favorite traditions? What brings you luck?

Fear, hope and other four letter words

fear2“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

Frank Herbert, Dune

2015 was a sucky year (then again, 2014 wasn’t much fun). In looking back over the past year(s), I realized that it wasn’t the events themselves that were horrible (although almost losing my daughter and my husband wasn’t anything to celebrate), but what they did to me.

I went from being a fairly confident, mostly optimistic suburban soccer mom who was able to juggle marriage, motherhood, career and outside interests with some degree of success, to a weepy woman who could barely handle getting up and getting dressed (which reminds me-why don’t they have pajama days at work?).  Oh, I managed to come up with multiple excuses for “stepping back” from activities I had previously enjoyed – soccer, reading, writing, stand-up comedy,  lighting design and playing chauffer to the teen. I blamed age, fatigue, increased stress at work, my bad knee – but when I took a hard look at my life, I realized that there was only one thing stopping me. FEAR.

Fear is like the abusive boyfriend who compliments you on your outfit, then asks if you have a skirt that’s “not as short/tight” or tells you that your makeup is “a little overdone”. Eventually you second guess everything you do/say/wear and run it by the boyfriend for his approval. Fear convinced me that the things that had happened were somehow my fault – that if I had spent more time at home, or less time doing things that I enjoyed, everyone would be better off. Fear whispered in my ear, telling me that there weren’t enough hours in the day for a “woman of your age” to do EVERYTHING, that even Wonder Woman deserves a break, that it would be better if I just came home and zoned out in front of the television.

After the second time that my husband almost died, I realized that Fear had lied to me. Stepping back from the things I loved hadn’t kept my husband safe. If Fear lied about that, what other lies was he telling?

The best part of having my husband almost die was that I was lifted up by people who loved us. I was lifted high enough to see a glimmer of hope, and Hope sends Fear running.

Once he started running, I saw Fear for what he is – a liar and a cheat. It was then that I remembered my favorite acronym.

False

Expectations

Appearing

Real

Run you bastard, run

breakingbad

 

 

Do the voices in my head bother you?

voicesI’ve spoken about the voices in my head. I think we all hear them, I mean, I hope we do (please tell me that I’m not the only one).*

Sometimes the voices are helpful (“Don’t forget to pick up the girl from soccer practice”). Sometimes they are not (“I told you that you needed to pick her up at 6. It’s 6:05. You’re late”). And sometimes they are just plain evil (“You are the worst mother in the world. Everyone else is already home eating dinner. Your daughter is traumatized and the coaches hate you”).

I’m lucky – the voices have been quiet lately. Too quiet. I should have been worried, but I was busy helping my daughter raise a pig to cell at the Ventura County Fair, a la Charlotte’s Web ( No, her name wasn’t Wilbur. Or Hammond Eggs, but more on that adventure later).

Now that the pig has been sold, I have time to myself. What am I doing with my free time, you ask? (Yes, I can hear you. I can see you too. Love your shoes!) I am having knee surgery. ACL reconstruction, to be precise. When I first started thinking about surgery, I discussed it with my husband, my daughter, and my friend who is a physical therapist. To be honest, I discussed it with anyone who would listen. The Voices decided they should weigh in as well.

V1 – “ACL reconstruction has come a long way, it’s just a minor procedure now.”

V2 – “It’s not a procedure, it’s surgery, and every surgery carries risks.”

V1 – “Yes, I could have scarring, or numbness, and I might…”

V2 (interrupting) “You might have a stroke.”

V1 “A stroke?!”

V2 “Or you could die.”

V1 – “I might die? OMG I could DIE!!!! Where’s my will? Where’s my life insurance policy? What will happen to my family??” (V1 dissolves into nothing but a pile of sniffling, whimpering moosh)

V2 <evil grin>

Yep. V2 needs to SHUT THE *&$% up!

Unless, of course, he’s the one who reminds me to pick up my daughter from soccer practice

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