“She's rude, she's crude but she's funny. Oh wait, that's me. Molly is neither of those things but she is funny.”
Suzy Soro, comedian as seen on “Seinfeld,” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” http://wherehotcomestodie.blogspot.com 

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Q AND A

This afternoon, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by        myself.

Here is the transcript:

ME:  Good afternoon, Molly.

ME:  Hello.

ME:  How has the pandemic been for you? Do you think the worst is behind us?

ME:  I am confused as the next person. I am confused because the Delta variant has convinced many unvaccinated people to get shots, while simultaneously convincing others that getting the vaccine is now unnecessary. It seems to be going both ways, and I am totally flummoxed.

ME:  Understandable. So we won’t talk about that. How have you been passing the time during the past months?

ME:  You must not read my blog. I talk about that all the time.

ME:  Oh. Ok. Here’s an idea–shall we do the Proust Questionnaire?

ME: It might be fun.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?  Eating chocolate cake and not getting  A) huge hips, B) a sugar crash afterwards, and C) a massive sense of guilt.

What is your greatest fear? Besides cancer and that our AC will go out during climate change? I guess that would be death.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?  Introversion while simultaneously wanting to be the center of attention.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?  Wanting to be the center of attention.

Which person do you most admire?  That runs the gamut from Erma Bombeck to Amal Clooney.

What is your greatest extravagance?  Amazon. Jeff Bezos has me in his top ten.

What is your current state of mind?  I am always worried about something. For instance, today I am concerned that my washing machine tub might have black mold growing inside it. I just ordered special cleaning tablets from Amazon.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?  Don’t get me started on people who win huge awards, saying afterwards that they are “humbled.” Awards do not make one humble. LOSING AWARDS makes you humble, for God’s sake.

On what occasion do you lie?  There are so many occasions in which lying is called for.   One example: Answering the question “How are you?” FINE. Fine is the only answer. Nobody is fine, but nobody wants to know this. Another example: Answering “No, I am stuffed,” when the host asks if you want seconds on the mashed potatoes.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?  My GOD. I have ears like Mr. Spock.

Which living person do you most despise?  It’s a man. A big man. A despicable man. He has a wife with squinty eyes. His last name starts with a T and ends with a P.

What is the quality you most like in a man?  Everyone says it’s a sense of humor, so that goes without saying. So my answer is a sense of irony. Like last night, as we were eating corn on the cob, my husband mentioned that we were fresh out of dental floss.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?  I would have to say empathy. For instance, when I am on WW, a true friend will wear Spanx, even if she is thin.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?  Good grief, that’s a tough question.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?  For certain, it is NOT the accordion.

When and where were you the happiest?  Sitting on my balcony at night, talking and laughing with my children and my grandchildren.

Which talent would you most like to have?  I would like to be an Irish Clog dance champion. That or one of those Electro Swing dancers. Google Vico Neo and you will understand.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Didn’t I mention my ears??

What do you consider your greatest achievement?  Writing books and keeping this blog going for so long that some of my readers have died of old age.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what would it be?  I would like to come back as a poet or an Irish Clog dancer. Or perhaps a clog dancer who writes poems.

Where would you most like to live?  Next door to a cookbook author. Free samples.

What is your most treasured possession?  That would have to be my iPhone. I could not live without it. Photos, YouTube, and of course, Amazon.

What do you regard as the depth of misery?  You mean, for a human being? Torture. For me, with my privilege and age? Sitting in a waiting room without my iPhone.

What is your favorite occupation?  You may be surprised that it isn’t writing. Reading is high on the list. Eating is the truest, most honest answer. Cake would be involved.

What is your most marked characteristic? Do we have to keep coming back to my ears?

What do you most value in your friends?  I would have to say the fact that they are still alive.

Who are your most favorite writers?  All of them.

Who is your hero of fiction?  Anne of Green Gables.

Which historical figure do you most identify with? Well, it isn’t Joan of Arc, I can tell you that.

Who are your heroes in real life?  Writers who manage to write more books than I have.

What are your favorite names?  When I was five, I wanted to change my name to Annabricks.

What is it that you most dislike?  When my husband interviews the wait staff at restaurants. I am so thankful to the pandemic for our prolonged absence from local eateries.

What is your greatest regret?  That chocolate cake isn’t good for you.

How would you like to die?  See chocolate cake, above. Perhaps with two scoops of coffee ice cream and some fudge sauce.

What is your motto?  “Never have a motto.”

 

 

 

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SIXTY LIGHT BULBS

It’s not over. There is the variant. Maybe more variants. Masks or not? Covid is still the top headline. It haunts us all.

I managed to get by during the past year of isolation and worry. However, I had various coping mechanisms that I am not proud of. Amazon became a lifeline, and I ordered everything on Amazon.

It made me feel secure to have packages arriving every day. I couldn’t go out, but for sure, I could still acquire things. I wasn’t helpless. Getting things that shored up the household made me feel safe, comfortable and not desperate. No toilet paper shortages for us, damn it! I didn’t order things that weren’t useful. Everybody needs stuff like toothpaste and toilet paper. I read about how vulnerable the supply chain was, and so I also ordered things like six packs of shampoo, giant size containers of lotion, and some extra rolls of paper towels.

I did suffer a slight lapse. The pundits on the news one day discussed how shortages could continue for months–maybe more than a year. The economy was fragile, manufacturing in places was shut down, and if your washing machine or other major appliance broke, good luck getting a replacement.

I must have been getting dark when I watched this. I reached over to switch on the lamp beside me and suddenly panicked. What if our light bulbs burned out and we couldn’t get new ones, because the supply chain shortages included light bulbs? Would we have to sit around in the dark, suffering pandemic isolation in blackness? Would we have to resort to lighting candles and living like they did during all those shows like Poldark, with just a ring of faint light surrounding the diminishing tapers? Of course, I use Poldark as an example, because Aidan Turner…

I digressed there for a second, because Aidan Turner. Back to the supply chain. The threat is real! Shortages happened. They are still happening, for heaven’s sake! So I did what any self-respecting panic-stricken isolator would do: I ordered a case of sixty light bulbs. They arrived promptly two days later, all sixty of them, packaged nicely in a huge cardboard box marked SIXTY ONE HUNDRED WATT LIGHT BULBS. This was in mid-April of 2020, in the height of the lockdowns in the US. I patted myself on the back, knowing full well that there would be people fervently wishing they had thought to order some extra light bulbs. Ha!

It is now almost the end of July, 2021. The box of light bulbs sits, unopened, in the rear of the laundry room. I have used up all the paper towels I ordered, and so the light bulb carton is no longer obscured. My husband hasn’t noticed it. Thank goodness. But he will, sooner or later, and this does not bode well for me, since he has remarked on the size of my Amazon bills.

Luckily, I live in an apartment building, where it is easy to be a Good Samaritan. The next time my husband spends the day golfing, I plan to distribute free light bulbs to fifty (I have to keep some bulbs; I am not completely nuts) lucky neighbors, spreading happiness and light among them.

“The sun is gone, but I have a light.” Curt Cobain

That says it all, doesn’t it?

 

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A PLAYLIST FOR THE AGED

My husband and I lived through the pandemic so far, but it has taken its toll. We feel as old as the hills. Do you? So here’s a playlist I curated just for those of us who feel especially hard-hit by the pandemic:

  • Everybody Hurts, by R.E.M.
  • There Goes My Life, by Kenny Chesney
  • I Don’t Dance, by Lee Brice
  • Safety Dance, by Men Without Hats
  • Hips Don’t Lie, by Shakira
  • All You Can Eat, by The Fat Boys
  • Last Night I Didn’t Get to Sleep at All, by the Fifth Dimension
  • Walk, Don’t Run, by the Ventures
  • Somebody Get Me a Doctor, by Van Halen
  • Running on Empty, by Jackson Browne
  • I’m So Bald, by Mr. Mason
  • The Denture Song, by Randy Miller
  • Stayin’ Alive, by the BeeGees
  • Heart Attack, by Demi Lovato

I had to do it.

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THE HAPPINESS AND THE GRIEF

Nineteen months. Well over a year of not seeing my daughter, her husband, or more importantly, our grandchildren. At ages seven and four, I wondered if they would remember us. I knew they had changed so much since we had seen them. We missed so much.

So finally, after vaccinations and so much waiting, they arrived. I had been looking forward to it for so long–planning, shopping, hoping, and losing sleep. They were to come for two weeks. We would watch baseball games and Fourth of July fireworks together. The activities were planned for almost every day: the Ohio Caverns, King’s Island, the Boonshoft Children’s Museum, Carillon Park.

We didn’t anticipate the chaos. Birdie, aged four, loved picking flowers on the deck–until the pots were nearly bald. She danced to ABBA in her pajamas. Charlie loved the robot kit we got him, and spent hours making and remaking them in various configurations. He cuddled during  family movie night. Nobody went to bed early. There were S’Mores. Bubbles. Chocolate ice cream. Hot dogs. Sticky fingers and filthy feet. The messes.

I knew it was coming. The goodbyes. By the day of departure, my husband and I were exhausted. So yes, we were ready to reclaim our quiet lives.We knew it would take hours of cleaning to set things to rights around the apartment. But the grief seeped in. Waving goodbye as they drove off, I felt as if most of my internal organs went missing all at once. The heaviness of loss. We missed almost two years of their lives, and now, we would have to go back to missing them once again.

No amount of busy-ness has helped ease the grief of losing them again. Only time and the return of routine will erase it. This sadness is not unfamiliar; it happens at every family parting. But this time it seemed so much more significant. We are not getting any younger, and those children are growing up so fast. How many more years will we have with them?

Every person who has lived through this pandemic has experienced this sort of emptiness. We all have had losses and loneliness. My story is just one of many. We have all weathered perhaps one of the worst years of our lives. A plague of historical significance. It may not be behind us yet. Every single one of us has a COVID story.

Before this virus hit the world, I never worried too much about having grandchildren so far away, because I could always just fly out to see them, any time. But the past nineteen months took that sense of security away. Nineteen months. That gap will not be filled. The future no longer looks quite so stable.

Meanwhile, I wait for my heart to start beating again.

 

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MOTHER AND CHILD AND HER CHILDREN REUNION

We all went through this historical and traumatic year together, but not together at all. Many of us are still processing, alone and with friends, just how much impact the pandemic had on us.

One thing is certain: the people who had family locally, and who established safety “pods,” so that they could see one another, were so damn lucky. Also lucky were the parents whose adult children came home to live with them for months during the pandemic. The closeness. The game nights. The sourdough bread. Speaking of bread, I was eaten up with envy. This was because not only did I not see my local daughter and her husband, because they both continued to work and thus refused to expose themselves to us, but also because my California daughter and her children and husband were so far away.

Zoom and FaceTime were lame. The kids had the attention span of gnats, and by the way, how do you have a conversation with a child you hardly know any more, because you haven’t seen them in months and months?

The hardest thing about COVID for me was this separation. I had days when the sadness felt like an anvil on my chest. I read memoirs about families and the closeness of children to their beloved grandparents, and I felt angry at those families. Envy and anger are so closely related, and I felt a lot of both.

This week, the children pictured above are coming to visit, along with their parents. We are so excited to see them again we can hardly remain inside our skins. I am having trouble sleeping: “The Christmas Eve” phenomenon. I go over and over the grocery list in my head: Popsicles, Lucky Charms, watermelon, blueberries, gummy bears. I have sorted the children’s books I still have at least ten times. Bubble bath. My husband created a spreadsheet of potential activities. We both had a learning afternoon–downtown Dayton features rental electric scooters, and so we took those for a spin. They go very fast, and although I am sure the seven-year-old will be fine, I picture the four-year-old having some sort of tragic crash. Then my husband puts a hand on my shoulder and says, “She will be on the same scooter with one of her parents. She will be fine. Take a deep breath.”

We have the menus planned. I have my cleaning schedule down. I have had a few conversations with the cat, to tell her that there will be a ruckus, and she needs to be prepared to spend a lot of time under our bed.

So. Now all I have to do is wait. This next few days will seem like eternity. I know many of you will read this and nod your head “Yes! Yes! Yes!” For the rest of you who have been with your family all along, YOU ARE LUCKY DUCKS.

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THE GAZILLIONTH POST

I have been doing this blog thing for more than ten years. 

I think I have covered everything worth writing about. When the weekend approaches, and it is coming time to write another column, I cast around in my head for topics. I read the news feeds, looking for something to grab on to. I shut my eyes and try to think of something that is either bothering me or making me happy or wistful. I look at my photo feed, to see if there is something there that hooks me.

But some weeks, I get nada. I am not enraged about anything; my heart isn’t singing, either. So I start to panic. I sometimes consider taking a week off. I hate to do that, despite the fact that I do it once in a while. But I do have a few “fall back” strategies, and one of my “reader favorites” (thank the six of you who have said this) are book lists.

So. Here is another one of MOLLY’S BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO NEED THEM

  • The Sweeney Sisters, by Lian Dolan. This book could have been written by me, or at least the plot–it is about three sisters who discover after their father’s death that they have a fourth sister, one their father produced via a mistress. It hit very close to the bone, but it is a really good read. Since I could never write about my own story, I am glad Ms. Dolan wrote this.
  • Early Morning Riser, by Katherine Heiny. A wonderful book about family. This one is a heartwarmer.
  • Leave the World Behind, by Rumann Alam. Wow. I don’t want to spoil it–just read it. You will be left staring into space.
  • The World That We Knew, by Alice Hoffman. This is a nominee for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. World War II fiction. There is a golem. Wonderful.
  • Mr. Flood’s Last Resort, by Jess Kidd. Full of saints, magic, and humor. Eccentric. I loved it.
  • The Last Flight, by Julie Clark. Two women. Two flights. One last chance to disappear. A page-turner.
  • Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters. I loved the series, then read the book, which is backwards, but it’s a good one!
  • Group, by Christie Tate. I don’t usually read nonfiction, but this was very interesting. Again, sometimes funny, sometimes surprising, but always intriguing.
  • Goodnight Beautiful, by Aimee Molloy. A plot that I cannot imagine anyone coming up with. This is all I will say.
  • A Crooked Tree, by Una Mannion. Another book that I don’t want to describe, but it is a portrayal of family that is unsettling but so well done.
  • Rules for Moving, by Nancy Star. I wrote a fan letter to Ms. Star after reading this. Enough said.

Take off your mask, but don’t go to the movies just yet. Read.

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MEA CULPA

During the pandemic, I grew my hair out. The above is sort of what I look like now.

However, also during the pandemic, I have had, just like all of you, an enormous amount of time to think about myself. I spend sleepless nights blaming myself for all of the stupid things I have ever done, because why not? Insomnia brings on all sorts of negativity.

For instance, I got the date wrong for a dinner, and my husband and I showed up only to find our hosts in what I will euphemistically call “leisure wear.” They were entirely gracious and ordered a pizza, and the evening was fine, but I wouldn’t call it smooth. Luckily, we were all wearing masks, so I couldn’t really see the expressions on our hosts’ faces, which was a very good thing.

I have lost my temper at many occasions during the past year, and once I hung up on the woman at the other end of the line at the doctor’s office. She called me right back, saying “I think we got disconnected,” to which I replied, “No, I hung up on you because you wouldn’t let me talk to the doctor.” He was probably with a patient at that time, but my eczema was really itchy at that moment, and I became temporarily furious. I am still a patient there, but I try to schedule appointments on days when that woman isn’t working.

I played hooky from some Zoom meetings I should have attended. I faked excuses. But maybe I am not the only one. This gives me a bit of solace. But still…

One time, and this was long before I had grandchildren, I kicked up a fuss on a plane because a woman with a baby had the seat next to me. I mean, I kicked up a fuss. A very nice person changed seats with me, and then I was chagrined because the baby didn’t peep the entire flight. If that woman reads this, I apologize profusely, and now I actually seek out babies on flights (because I want to go to heaven when I die.)

I have been rude to those employees in clothing stores who persist in following customers around asking if they need help. Repeatedly. Now I realize that this is because the average customer shopping for clothes truly has no idea how to put together an outfit. I still have the red pants with black stripes to prove it. I have never worn them. When I put them in the Goodwill bag, I swore to myself that next time I go to Chicos, I will ask for help the second I walk in the door.

I think the thing I most regret is all the times I nagged my husband for things like telling the same joke too many times, or drinking that third glass of wine. Because the other night, we had friends over, and due to the fact that we were so happy to be able to socialize again, I had three glasses of wine myself, and MY GOD THAT JOKE WAS HILARIOUS.

A man walked into a bar…

 

 

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DON’T TRY TO HELP

We have all lived through hell this last what seems like years. They say the pandemic may just be in the rear view mirror. We are encouraged. How did you get through the tough times? I am willing to bet that all the inspirational memes on social media were not at the top of your coping list.

There are a whole lot of people who spend their time creating memes that they think will help the rest of us through. Filled with backgrounds of sunny skies, waterfalls, dewdrops on various flowers, and of course, puppies, these social media posts are not only tedious, but they don’t help at all. The aphorisms are cliche, and just because Benjamin Franklin said it doesn’t mean it will brighten my day. Let’s get real with the sayings, shall we?

  • What doesn’t kill you makes you still alive.
  • Every cloud has the potential for a huge downpour, so don’t forget your raincoat.
  • A stitch in time is great, but there are safety pins.
  • A word to the wise isn’t sufficient; spell it out, for God’s sake.
  • Hunger may not be the best sauce; I prefer ketchup.
  • If you lie down with dogs, you will be very happy.
  • During the pandemic, very few people used their time wisely. Most of us napped.
  • When the student is ready, the Zoom class is probably over.
  • It doesn’t all come out in the wash, especially if there is a tube of lipstick in the pocket of your jeans.
  • For heaven’s sake, actions don’t speak louder than words. You can hug somebody right before you call them by the wrong name.
  • You can fool some of the people all of the time, and nobody remembers the rest of this aphorism.
  • Eat to live, not the opposite. Except during lockdown, when we all had at least five meals a day.
  • A penny saved doesn’t amount to much, and we all know it.
  • When a door closes, it means somebody has just left. Or your husband is tired of hearing the tv.

I could go on and on, but let’s face it–It is never too early to quit.

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MARS AND VENUS

Everyone acknowledges that men and women play by different rules. We certainly do.

For instance, clothing. I have a blouse I bought to wear on Christmas Eve five years ago. I am not sure why I decided not to wear it, but it is a lovely blouse. So it still hangs in my closet, waiting for an occasion.

My husband, on the other hand, gets rid of perfectly good golf shirts because “They are taking up too much room in my shirt drawer.” Sidebar: His dream shirt drawer would contain two shirts: one to wash, and one to wear. So he keeps a Goodwill box in the bottom of his closet, and as soon as I or one of our daughters buys him what we think would be a shirt to build up his paltry wardrobe, he gets rid of a shirt.

Did I mention that I also have a pair of pants I bought before the pandemic caused universal sweatpants wearing? That these are really cute khakis? With the price tag still attached? Now that we are getting out in the world, I fully intend to wear them someplace. As long as all the other people in that place are still six feet apart and wearing masks.

Moving on. Books. My husband has a bookcase in his office without a single book in it. This drives me absolutely insane, because everyone knows that you put books in there. My husband instead has one or two framed photos on each shelf. One photo is of his PT Cruiser (long gone; apparently sorely missed). One or two photos on otherwise empty shelves. The designers on HGTV would have heart attacks. It looks terrible. Luckily, I don’t go into his office unless I have to vacuum. I vacuum very quickly and leave.

We have two bathrooms. One is for guests. My husband uses both of them. One is apparently for his pills and for pandemic hand washing, and for you know, using the toilet. The other one, just off our bedroom, is for toothbrushing and shaving. This also frustrates me, as I have to clean one more bathroom than I would have to if he would just limit his use to the master bath, for God’s sake.

I have to loop back to clothing, because the more I think about it, the more I have to say! Shoes. I have the completely understandable collection of shoes. Sneakers for walking. Flip flops. Three pairs of dressy flats. One pair of dressy sandals. Two pairs of “walking” sandals. Crocs–everybody wore those during the pandemic. One pair of slippers. One pair of waterproof walking boots (for horse shows; granted not all women need those). One pair of “semi-dress up” flats.

My husband has three pairs of shoes. One for winter, one for summer, and one pair of golf shoes. He also has two pairs of cowboy boots. Nothing else. This is ridiculous.

Let’s talk pants. Again, he aspires to having only three pairs for each season. In summer, it’s two pairs of khakis and one pair of lightweight wool pants to wear to church. You read that right–the SAME pair to church every Sunday, with which he alternates one of his two “nice” golf shirts. Note: I no longer go to church, not only because all of that kneeling and standing up and down is hard on my joints, but because I don’t want to get those looks from other men’s wives who have certainly noticed my husbands tiny wardrobe. I wouldn’t know how to do the Peace portion of the service where all you do is shake a hand and say “Peace to you.” I would want to shake a hand and say “Really, I try to get him to increase his wardrobe, but he just refuses–it’s not what it looks like–he ONLY WANTS TWO SHIRTS AND ONE PAIR OF CHURCH PANTS…”

I have just come from my closet, where I counted ten pairs of “good” pants. You know, in case we ever go out to a restaurant or the movies, I want to have some stylish things on rotation. I have one pair of linen capris for summer, a gorgeous red paisley pair from Talbot’s,  of course four pairs of jeans, and on and on. I also have a leggings drawer in my bureau full of pandemic leggings. I wore leggings every day for over a year. That justifies the leggings drawer, correct?

But here’s the thing:  My husband seems to feel that he has to audit MY wardrobe and pepper me with questions:

“Have you ever worn these pants?”

“How many white blouses do you actually need?”

“It’s global warming. So why do you have these snow boots?”

“You never wear this robe.”

“Do all women have three raincoats?’

 

I just went online. LL Bean is having a sale on men’s golf shirts. Feeling spiteful, I ordered him FIVE of them.

 

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