Friday, December 31, 2004

Carson May Be a Fathead...

But Regis is worse.

Forgive me, Carson. I was wrong.

You may be the oldest, stiffest, creepiest 31-year-old on the planet, but by comparison, Regis is just old. And at the same time your New Year's Eve show broadcast a performance by Maroon 5, Regis had Rod Stewart doing "It's a Wonderful World," via satellite.

And it sucked.

Rod Stewart gets my vote for the least hip human on the planet, despite his desperate attempts to prove himself otherwise.

And you have Conan, Carson, and I like Conan.

The offspring are still among us. Or me, anyway. After the Anchorman viewing, Peter packed it in. He's fast asleep.

Avril Lavigne is on. Oh joy! The offspring adore Avril. She is everything they want to be, and supposedly, she doesn't even lipsync!

Next up, Duran Duran. I must watch.

2004 Goes Out Like a Lamb

This post is dedicated to the memory of Jerry Orbach, who will live on in my TV-addicted heart forever and ever.

Well, we're going to miss A&M's party. After lurching around like a monkey yesterday and buying the hummus and Wasa bread I promised as well as U's birthday gift, Peter is sick. Hasn't been the most pleasant patient, either, so I've been avoiding him.

He is usually so easygoing you have to check his pulse to make sure he's still breathing, but when he's sick he's no bargain.

Anyway, we'll eat the hummus and Wasa, along with the lowbrow Wispride port wine cheese and Triscuits I bought this afternoon, while we watch Anchorman with Will Ferrell.

Anything to avoid Carson Daly.

Anything!

I may take a peek at Regis Philbin filling in for poor Dick Clark if we finish the movie in time. I bought some organic (no sulfites!) wine for the occasion. Got me a case of Guinness downstairs, too. I'll have to leave it alone, though. I have nobody to drink it with.

Peter's friend Br is down from Rochester. He's on Long Island right now, where he'll attend A&M's party (boo hoo!), but he should head this way tomorrow afternoon.

Must wash that kitchen floor. Again!

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The In-Laws Have Decamped

Christmas was brilliant.

After the mishaps of Christmas Eve (the restaurant I'd settled on for Christmas dinner lost our reservation; the drycleaner was closed, preventing us from retrieving Child One's dress and Child Two's coat; Peter still suffered from the malaise of not knowing what the hell was wrong with his truck), Christmas Day worked out pretty well.

We ended up in The Stanhope for dinner, which was pleasant, even though they didn't have turkey on the menu for Dad. The service was friendly and patient (considering we had three children ages 10 and younger among us), the food was decent, and the dining room was an architectural beauty, friezes along the ceiling and that sort of thing.

Then we went to Sibling One's to open presents, but her husband dispensed the wine too frequently, and I went out of there in danger of falling on my head.

Got good gifts, though. Mom and Dad gave cash, and the aunt who doubles as my godmother came through with a gift card to Lord & Taylor, which I will use with glee.

The next day, Sunday, the in-laws arrived with Peter's niece and stayed until this morning. Peter's niece and the offspring were out of their minds with excitement over the prospect of spending three nights together and hopped around like kangaroos until after 1am.

Guess who got stuck on the couch supervising? Well, I volunteered; I was hostess, after all.

My mother-in-law took over the next night, but by then the little critters were wiped out. She and Father-in-Law babysat yesterday so that I could visit Mom in prison, er, I mean, the nursing home.

(This morning, Mom told me, the rough aide came into her room and shouted, "WAKE UP!" My mother responded, "And good morning to you, too!" The aide, who is not inured to this kind of response, laughed her head off, sending in one of her coworkers to see what the ruckus was about.)

Today the in-laws headed back to Flushing with the niece in tow, but not before I heard Father-in-Law exclaim to Mother-in-Law, "This sucks!"

Wonder what that was about.

For New Year's Eve, we may go to A & M's party on Long Island. It's a long drive, so we'll sleep over. Nobody else is bringing their children, but since we don't have a babysitter, we don't have an option. Not sure I want to go under those circumstances.

But it should be a good party, and if I miss it, I may regret it.




Saturday, December 25, 2004

God is with Us

How sad is it that I'm blogging at 11:52 p.m. on Christmas Eve instead of heading to Midnight Mass or caroling around the fireplace? This has been the most, um, interesting Christmas Eve in memory.

Okay. The truck broke down last night. Not that I like that truck, or understand why any intelligent person needs to drive such a vehicle, which gets, like, 12 miles to the gallon. But it broke down. So Peter is on edge, not his charming self. Kind of hard to be around. Kind of the type of person I'd like to smack in the head.

Then, I called the clowns at Le Mediterannee to confirm the reservation I made last week for dinner for 13 of us tomorrow, Christmas Day. The dude who answered said he had no record of my reservation. Nearly laughed when he said it, the fact that he'd taken my phone number and implored me to confirm at noon on Christmas Day notwithstanding.

Thank God I listened to the little voice in my head that told me not to wait to confirm until tomorrow. Confirm today. Confirm right now. So I did. Can you imagine if I'd waited until tomorrow?

Because Le Mediterannee doesn't have room for us in the inn anymore.

So I spent much of the day scouring the Internet for restaurants in Midtown or the Upper East Side that would have us. Most place are closed for Christmas and those that are open are booked solid. Sibling One was able to get us a table at the Stanhope, which didn't please Daddy because turkey is not on the menu.

So after all this, Peter goes off to the dry cleaner to pick up Child One's Christmas dress and Child Two's good coat, but the damn place is closed. What dry cleaner in creation is closed on Christmas Eve? I mean, what are you thinking? Isn't Christmas Eve the busiest day of the year for dry cleaners?

So we have to improvise. Child One can wear the dress my mother-in-law gave her, but it makes her look like a walking dinner roll. It's cut so badly I don't even know where to start. Child Two will show up at the Stanhope, not in her beautiful coat, but in a ski jacket.

Something good will come of this. It has to.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Christmas Eve is Upon Us

Beautiful dinner last night. I had filet mignon, so tender the knife slid right through it. Peter had swordfish, which he said was out of this world. He wished I could taste it. Too bad I'm wickedly allergic to swordfish!

We drove down to the mall in Trumbull after dinner, which was crammed with last-minute shoppers and the creepiest Santa Claus you ever saw in your life. I wouldn't put a doll in his lap, let alone a child.

Peter's truck broke down as we were crawling out of the mall parking lot with thousands of other drivers. We pulled alongside the road, and B came to save us. Peter spent most of this Christmas Eve morning on the phone trying to find a mechanic to solve the problem, but everybody's closed. I told him to relax. Everything will work out.

Right now AMC is doing a Miracle on 34th Street marathon. Miracle is one of my favorite movies, and I tried to get the offspring to watch it, but Child Two flat-out refused, and the other one isn't really paying attention. At least I didn't cry this time when the little orphaned Dutch girl sings with Santa.

We're staying in Connecticut tonight. I wonder what my cousins are doing. I think Peter wants to go out for dinner and come home afterwards. He's always talking about having a quiet Christmas Eve.

After Miracle on 34th Street ends, I have to get on the Nordic Track. I gotta work off last night's dinner before I eat tonight's.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

The Night Before Christmas Eve

We didn't go out last night. It made more sense to go out tonight because Peter is off tomorrow. He's in the shower now, and we're waiting for the babysitter. Can't wait to get the hell out of here.

Today was the last day of school before vacation, so the offspring arrived home with ornaments they'd made in class, which spewed glitter all over the house. Why do teachers love glitter so? Don't they know what it does to furniture? Don't they have homes of their own?

I'll have to ask Mommy. She was a teacher. Or I could ask Sibling Two. She teaches first grade.

I called Mommy earlier, but she was eating. Spoke to Daddy just briefly about his plans for tomorrow, Christmas Eve. He has to get clearance with the nurse before he can take Mom out for dinner. He's so placid. If I ever get sick, I don't want him advocating for me. When I expressed a little impatience with Mom's neuro-oncologist, Dad replied, "Well, he does have 30 patients to look after."

Thing is, he's not looking after Mom at all. He's not even thinking about treating her until she gets out of rehab, but by then her tumor may have grown to the point where it won't matter anymore. Of course, he can't resume the treatment he gave her before. That nearly killed her. But does he have any other ideas?

The first round of chemo didn't hurt her much; it came in a pill. It was the intravenous chemo that nearly did her in. Couldn't he try another course of the pills?

I'm looking into alternative therapies. One woman suggested a supplement that she said "saved" her ex-husband. Hey, I'm willing to try it. Thing is, Mom can't take it if she's on an anticoagulant, and I can't get anyone to tell me whether she is or not.

I did some research into green tea's inhibitive effect on tumors and suggested Mom drink several cups a day. "But doesn't it taste awful?" she wanted to know.

Not really. And it's a hell of a lot better than a brain tumor.

The pearls I bought Mom for Christmas arrived yesterday, and they're lovely. Still have to wrap them. I hope she likes them as much as I do.

Here's the babysitter. Thank you, Jesus.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Instant Karma

I just finished my interview with Sonia Choquette, and it went so well I could scream. She is just the most fascinating person and answered questions I had regarding the Christian position on psychic phenomena and reincarnation.

She even gave me a decorating idea! I don't know that I have the ambition to follow through with it, but she said that her neighbor's house next door is so ugly that she built a stained glass window to hide the view. She'd never attempted stained glass before but contacted her spirit guides. The result was a magnificent window.

I particularly enjoyed talking to her about the prayer book she made. She has been taping and writing prayers that appeal to her in a journal for years. The book is tattered by now, but it gives her such a sense of power when she opens it. She said her daughter made prayer books for everybody for Christmas this year.

Nerd alert: I told Sonia that I was so excited about her appearing on my show that I didn't sleep last night. I don't know where that came from. I don't think I have ever been that forthcoming in my life.

Peter called earlier and suggested we go to dinner by ourselves and get B's daughter, L, to babysit tonight. According to B, she doesn't have a boyfriend anymore and needs the money (!). Peter even suggested that we go to Il Palio, which was just the place I had in mind when I stepped into the shower this morning. I'd resolved to take matters into my own hands, make a reservation for some time after Christmas, and put the date on the calendar.

But Peter beat me to it.

Of course, all depends on whether L is available tonight (or met a new boy). L is extremely pretty, the type of blonde girl with a bikini body that other girls want to look like, and boys want to date. I worry about her, though, because I don't know if she's developing anything more than her looks. And you certainly don't want people hanging around you just because you're good looking.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Interview with a Psychic

Tomorrow I will interview Sonia Choquette, a psychic (hold your laughter), whom I really admire. I met Sonia briefly at a Carolyn Myss seminar in Philadelphia two years ago and was impressed by her. She's gentle, kind, and wise. I've since read all her books, except one.

So, do tune into the broadcast next Friday, December 31st at 4PM ET at http://www.healthylife.net

It took me nearly a half hour to get the girls to school and go to the supermarket this morning. This exercise would usually take, maybe, fifteen minutes, but the roads were slick, Baby. It was nine degrees out there. People were slip-sliding all over the place, and thankfully, all doing about 15 miles per hour, as opposed to the usual 50, on 30 mph roads.

The slick roads were only part of the problem. You see, the Planning and Zoning Board of this picturesque New England town has allowed every half-wit builder and his brother to build here, which has resulted in traffic that we can't manage.

B drove me down his street to see the new "luxury" homes erected there. First off, they're all too big for the lots, and they're on top of each other. The houses sprout through grassless dirt and are devoid of landscaping. They're meant to look like mansions, the market being the average middle-management moron who wants to inspire envy among his friends and enemies.

But B says nobody's buying them. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Take that, Mr. Aggressive Builder! You steamrolled over our neighborhood for what? Ha ha ha ha ha!

A better idea than building, I think, would be to rehabilitate those lovely 1900 buildings downtown and convert them into apartments. There's a view of the river, for Pete's sake! A bit of nightlife burgeons, too, especially since Danny O's was refurbished.

That's where I'd put my money, says she, who sits behind a keyboard and risks nothing.


Monday, December 20, 2004

The End of a Snow Day

What a day.

I understand the temperature will be above freezing tomorrow, so the snow will melt and the girls will go to school. Yippee!

Spoke to Mommy at the rehab facility and told her that the offspring had a snow day today. "I'll bet you loved that," she said.

"I'm so tired of those children and their nonsense, I'd like to push them out in the snow," I said.

"Oh, yes," she said. "I remember days like that!"

She won't be discharged for Christmas after all. Daddy will take her out for dinner Christmas Eve, bring her back, and then we'll take her out for dinner again on Christmas. Sibling One says, "What's the point of bringing her home if she can't stand up yet, and Daddy can't lift her."

She's right, of course. I just hate the idea of Mom spending Christmas in that place. Its "public bathroom" has a roach motel in it the size of my arm.

The children are in bed. The husband is in bed. Sweet freedom.

Peter ran to the post office this evening, so there's one less thing to worry about. I just remembered I have a sack of books in the closet that were due back at the library on Saturday, though.

Oh!

I don't know why Everybody Loves Raymond has a reputation for being wholesome entertainment. Those people are so mean to each other.

Now I Understand What Mick Jagger was Talking About

Christmas vacation is not supposed to start until Friday, leaving me one whole week to fill with activities to keep the children happy, stimulated and out of my hair. I planned to use this week to write the script for my final radio show, which tapes on Wednesday, and to do some desperately-needed food shopping. The cupboards are bare.

But today is a snow day!

So the offspring are here, making demands to go shopping ("We're bored!"), messing up the kitchen with their attempts at combining oatmeal with baking chips, blaring the television, etc.

B came along with his snowplow, so now I can actually get out of the driveway to go to the supermarket, although I'm not sure what shape the roads are in. The town is usually good about clearing them before morning rush hour, but they've fallen down on the job this time.

I have three packages to take to the post office, too, one of which is going to England. Another is going to Indiana and really must be there by Friday.

Okay, here comes Child Two, tramping into the house in her snowy boots after I explicitly told her that she is to remove them in the garage and come up through the basement.

Am I speaking Swahili?



Sunday, December 19, 2004

Where is My Husband with the Food?

We got up at six this morning to get ready for church. I'm hot and cold on church these days, in the wake of the pedophile scandal, but Child One had to be there by 8:30 for her performance as an angel at 9:00 mass.

I am not a morning person.

Mass was so long, due to the Christmas performance but also to the fact that this particular priest likes to instruct the children in attendance on how to think, pray, and breathe. "Focus!" he exhorted. "Okay, put your attention over here!" And then, "You read this, and you'll know more about Jesus than most of the people who come here to church every week."

Ah, just get on with the mass, will you, Pal?

We finally put the tree up this afternoon. I was less than motivated. I guess going around in circles cleaning up after your children will do that to you.

I did have a lovely meal with my gorgeous husband last night, sans offspring! We took the little buggers to a Christmas party at their piano teacher's house and sped off to one of our favorite restaurants with our friend, B, who paid for dinner. Deeeelightful!

Peter has just arrived with a pizza. Yum. My favorite!

Time to eat!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The Peril of Being Irish

The book that was promised to arrive before 10 this morning didn't show until after I finished taping. The interview went pretty well, I suppose. I called the author beforehand to give him the deal and asked him to talk freely because I didn't have an informed list of questions.

He's a lecturer, so he had no problem with that. Thank God.

Afterwards, V picked me up. We went to the Huntington Street Cafe for lunch with her 5-year-old son, L, who is well-behaved and easygoing. He doesn't interrupt you every 10 seconds, so you can actually have a lucid conversation and taste your food.

I had some amazing Marrakesh green tea with my turkey-brie wrap, which fires me up from the inside out. It's better than coffee. V drank a cold Diet Coke, which would make my veins shiver on a day like this. I think the temperature is still in the 20s.

Ah, December in the Northeast.

While we ate, two men in suits sat behind us discussing what turns them off about women.

"I've never been attracted to an Irish girl in my entire life," said one. "I don't like Irish girls. They all look so, I don't know, Irish. I don't like that."

"I wonder why," said the other guy.

"Maybe because I'm Irish," he said. "I don't like them. They're not attractive."

Then the Irish guy went on to discuss some of the other things he doesn't like, which include hairy legs and that sort of thing.

Since I'm a girl who happens to be Irish (but shaves her legs), I was slightly offended by the conversation. I mean, not only am I Irish, I pretty much scream it. I longed to turn around and get a look at this idiot. The way he was talking, you'd think he was Pierce Brosnan.

He stood up.

"Back to work," he announced to every single person in the place. He walked toward the door, and I slowly swiveled my head around to check him out.

You should have seen the nose on him. He looked like a vacuum cleaner.

After lunch, I bought myself two bottles of wine, which I will consume (well, not both of them!) during The West Wing tonight. I will also start reading Trust Your Vibes by the amazing Sonia Choquette, who I will interview next Wednesday.

Today's interviewee, by the way, was Arnold Bull, an 86-year-old aerobics instructor who turned his life around at the age of 62. Why would a romance-oriented host want to talk to him? Because too many young people are getting old too fast.

They talk themselves into old age.

My friend, T, turned 30 and started groaning when she got off the couch. Women who are 38 refer to themselves as middle-aged. Have they watched Willard Scott lately? Some of those old coots he features in his Today's Birthday segment are 106 years old. They didn't start even middle age until they were 53.

Single people who want to get married think life has passed them by. It hasn't, and it won't.

Unless they let it, that is.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

My Aura is So Clean it Squeaks

My head is spinning.

Was merrily wrapping packages until I went to check the mail and found that the book by the author I'm interviewing tomorrow hadn't shown as promised. Yikes! I called the publicist, and she assured me a second copy would arrive on my doorstep before 10 a.m. tomorrow.

Let's hope so. I'm taping at 11:30.

I put dinner on the stove and decided that to alleviate stress, it was high time I took that aura cleansing bath prescribed by Sonia Choquette, who I am to interview next week. The bath involves filling a tub with warm water, 10 drops of lavender, and a cup of epsom salt. Magically, I had all on hand.

I got in the bath but didn't know what to do with myself. I haven't taken a bath in 12 years, and then it was just a soak in a hot tub. So I tried leaning back and closing my eyes, but the porcelain was cold against my neck and hard against my soft head. My knees kept floating up above the waterline. They were cold, too.

The girls came home in a flurry, and Peter went straight out to put up the Christmas lights he got a great deal on over the weekend. They are the most hideous lights I have ever seen. Can you say tacky? Instead of separate lights on a string (I prefer white, myself), it's a red-and-white tube made to look like a candy cane. When you light it up, it doesn't look light a candy cane at all.

It looks like orange tubing, a Halloween hangover. Please don't drive past my house. You will feel sorry for me. You will assume my idea of good taste is wearing leopard-patterned leggings with feathered high heels.

After dinner and refereeing several fights between the offspring, which involved hair-pulling and karate kicks, we ate dinner and pulled ourselves together to attend Child One's Christmas concert at school. Said Child played the flute, which she just started learning in October, and sang in the chorus. The chorus was pretty good. The band sounded like a typical fifth grade band.

I spoke to Mom while we waited for the concert to start. She says the nurse asked her if she'd like to be out of the rehab facility by Christmas. Well, no, actually, she'd like to be there on December 25th so that your freakin' aides can throw dinner at her and refuse to get her out of bed.

Merry Christmas!

I am searching for a restaurant where we can celebrate, but few places are open Christmas Day. They're all open for Easter, though, which is weird because Easter is the holiest day on the Christian calendar.

For some reason, Christmas trumps Easter every time.

I Continue to Amaze Myself

Not only did I write the script for my radio show this morning, I ran out to the post office and mailed all my international Christmas cards.

Then I did a bit more shopping. I remembered that Child Two wants a poncho, so I bought one for her and her sister. I bought A &M's gift, and my friend Elaine in England's (white-chocolate-scented bath fizzies and a makeup bag).

I picked up a warm nightgown for Sibling One to wear in the hospital after she has her baby. I also found a gorgeous burgundy scarf for myself (needed a scarf!), and a lovely Indian-patterned soap dispenser for the main bathroom, which will replace that sea-green piece of plastic Peter bought at Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart!

I am proud to say I've avoided that hole all season. I dislike Wal-Mart from the bottom of my feet. The employees are rude and in no mood to help you. Clothes and socks and toys are strewn everywhere. Half the stuff is made in sweatshops, hence the low prices. Shopping there makes me feel poor. I always, and I mean always, pull out of the parking lot with substantially lower self-esteem.

Mom says, "I wouldn't step in a Wal-Mart if my life depended on it."

This, from a woman suffering from brain cancer.

Monday, December 13, 2004

I Before E...

In an earlier post, I spelled "niece" wrong at least twice.

Please forgive me. I want to be able to sleep tonight.

Licking Envelopes is Tiring Business

I pretty much finished up the offsprings' Christmas shopping on Amazon this evening, while Peter ran out to the store to make copies of the photo he took of them this afternoon, which isn't great but will have to do.

I just finished pressing them into the 50+ cards I wrote and must hit the post office tomorrow.

Still have to get Peter's gift.

As for the girls, I refused to buy the Video Now disks Child One wanted. The last thing she needs is another object that requires her to sit still and stare for long periods. The girl is addicted to television. I'd like to throw that thing out the window, or at least block Disney, Nickelodeon, ABC Family and any other channel that broadcasts loud, obnoxious, stupid sitcoms into the stratosphere.

Child One can sit through the same insipid rerun of Full House or Raven until her eyes fall out.

So, instead of the Video Now garbage, I ordered her a Terry Pratchett book on CD (the girl hates to read, but she likes Harry Potter, and this seems to be in the same vein). I ordered a Lemony Snicket book on CD for her sister.

I also got them the music CDs they've been pining for, as well as a few other things. I'll go to the store at the end of the week and get the spy equipment they want, and the tea set Child Two requested.

Well, it's a relief to have most of it done, and it's a relief to have the cards written and addressed, too.

I'm to interview an author for the radio show on Wednesday, but the book his publicist promised to send has yet to appear. I'm getting uneasy.

I'll put that out of my head for now. Time for some well-deserved relaxation.

Health Care Workers in it for the Paycheck

If you ever want to be depressed, head over to the rehab facility where my mother is currently incarcerated.

It's on 79th between 2nd and 3rd, a beige matchbook of building with an aluminum-type facade so pale you can barely see it. It's surrounded by magnificent architecture, which makes it look even sorrier.

The interior is worse. The walls are institutional green, the floors a dirty pale linoleum. I waited, like, ten minutes for an antiquated elevator to scrape its way up to Mom's floor, and when I finally got one, a crowd had accumulated and jammed in with me. The thing stopped at every blessed floor, and I had to get to Fifteen.

I could've walked faster.

I found Mom propped up in her wheelchair reading the facility newsletter, seemingly oblivious to my father, two sisters, and neice, who surrounded her. She is almost completely bald. She smiled wanly when she saw me and said she would like to get back into bed. She'd been in the chair for hours.

So, Sibling One rang for the aide, who came in rather huffily. "Who's leanin' on that bell?" she demanded.

"Oh," my sister said. "I rang it once. I didn't realize it was still ringing."

"Well," the aide barked, "push it again to stop it!"

Sibling One complied. "Would you put my mother back to bed, please?"

"I'm in the middle of something!" came the response. "I'll be back in a minute!"

At this point, Peter and the offspring appeared, having let me out of the car to buy Mommy socks at Rite Aid while they drove off in search of parking. Peter put Mom back to bed, not a small feat even for a 6'1, 196 pound individual, because the poor woman can't stand without assistance.

I went in search of the ladies room. I found it behind a door marked PUBLIC TOILET in chipped handpainted black letters.

Sibling Two and the neice ran off to meet my brother-in-law. Dad, who spent most of the week in that dire joint, fled to watch a football game (he had it coming!). I had a good conversation with Sibling One, while Mommy slept.

Said sibling is expecting her first baby in 5 weeks and looked energetic. The last few times I've seen her she was dead tired. She has an extremely well-paying but demanding job in the financial industry. Don't ask me what she does because I have no idea.

Eventually, she left, and Sibling Three, my brother, appeared with his sometime girlfriend. The girlfriend has been part of my family since before my children were born, and now that Mom is sick she is back on the scene like a daughter. My mother just loves her.

We all do.

My brother loves her, but, after twelve years of dating, she is not ready to get married. Hey, it's not for everybody.

Peter, the girls, and I left Mom with Sibling Three and Girlfriend at 4PM. The aide still hadn't shown up to put her back to bed.

On the way home, Peter and I took the girls to Bertucci's for dinner. I had always avoided Bertucci's because I was convinced it would be just like The Olive Garden, i.e. corporate Italian food. I'm not Italian, but I am from New York, which is teeming with good Italian restaurants, so corporate just doesn't cut it.

But Peter wanted to avoid our usual, family-owned Italian place in Connecticut because the chairs are murder, and nobody ever looks you in the eye there, let alone smiles at you.

So, we went to Bertucci's.

Boy, were we surprised! Not only did we have a friendly, polite waiter, but the pizza and antipasto we ordered was better than the family-owned place's. So, we are going back to Bertucci's.

To the staff at Vincent's, you just lost four customers!

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Oh, What a Lovely Evening!

Well, I wrapped my little fingers to the bone. A mountain of presents teeters precariously on my dresser and must be put under the tree.

Except we haven't put ours up yet!

I like to decorate around the Fifteenth, but the offspring are getting antsy. It's possible that we'll do it tonight after Peter gets home from work. He's riding MetroNorth as I write. But he has to be tired; he left the house at 4 a.m. and won't be home until around 6:45 this evening. I may tell those children to give him a break.

Fortunately, Eloise at the Plaza and Eloise at Christmastime are on tonight, and they love both of them. I'll pop some corn. That should keep those little people happy!

Spoke to Mommy at the rehab center. I called her about fifteen times and got no answer. I figured that Dad or Sibling One had taken her out on a day pass. But what happened was that said Sibling turned off the ringer on the phone. When I finally got through, Mommy had to blow me off because she was entertaining visitors from church.

I have to say, the people from her church are extraordinarily kind. I've read that people in New York are godless, but nothing could be further from the truth. You can't even count all the churches in Manhattan, let alone the rest of the city.

When I worked there, I used to duck into a church on 40th and Park on my lunch hour. And so did 20 or 30 other people.

Well, Eloise has started. Julie Andrews is rivaling Maggie Smith for the top spot in the girls' hearts. Time to pop the corn.

Time to pour a glass of wine!

Friday, December 10, 2004

Tales of a Slothful Shopper

I really am amazed at the amount of Christmas shopping I've done.

I started yesterday. I was completely unmotivated, so I'm surprised I managed to get so many good gifts at such good prices. What luck! I went out again today and knocked off all but five people on my list. I just have to buy gifts for Mommy, Daddy, Peter and the girls now.

Yesterday, I went shopping with V. After we finished the Christmas end of it, we drove over to Nature's Way, a health food emporium I've been dying to check out. Paradise! I ended up buying several things I'd read about in Kat James' The Truth About Beauty and happened upon the Slim Tea my mother and I used to order from the back of a magazine in 1985.

It worked pretty well, that ol' Slim Tea, and I lost a good deal of weight. My friend, Eilis, however, was convinced it was in my head. She has a brother who worked as a chemist at Guinness in Dublin. She wanted to send him a sample for examination, but I wouldn't part with a single tea bag.

So I bought myself a big box of Slim Tea yesterday and will break it out shortly. I wouldn't mind dropping five (or ten!) pounds, especially as party season dawns.

What else? Oh, well, the Christmas cards are nearly finished. We are having a hell of a time getting the offspring to pose for a decent picture, though. We've already put ourselves through two frustrating sessions, where they made goofy faces and gave each other devil horns. Peter took one acceptable photo, but it turned out too dark. He thought he could fix it on the photo machine at the store, gave it a whirl, and ordered fifty copies. The result was catastrophic; no way am I sending those photos. I'll be the laughing stock of Christmas 2004.

How do I know this? Because, let's face it, people go through their mail and and criticize Christmas photos. They pass them around and make jokes about the cheesy backgrounds. They snicker at the pretentious photography. They goof on little Tommy's triangular head.

Admit it. You do it, too.

But, if my children cooperate, we'll give it another go. If not, sorry about the empty card this year.

I tried.


Thursday, December 09, 2004

What I Don't Want for Christmas

I don't want any lingerie from Victoria's Secret, or anywhere else for that matter. That's the kind of thing I'll buy for myself, thank you very much. I don't want diamonds from the place that advertises, "Every kiss begins with Kay," either.

It seems to me that jewelry and lingerie are the most thoughtless gifts a man can give a woman. Christmas advertising geared to men is all about giving your woman a gift that will guarantee you get something back (nudge, nudge; wink, wink).

It's so tiresome.

Give me a book I've been dying to read, the new U2 CD, a color printer for my computer (I'm probably the last person in civilization who doesn't have one). In other words, give me something you know I want, and the only way you'll know what I want is by paying attention to me, which is the greatest gift of all.

Luckily, Peter does listen to me, so I will be getting some, if not all, of the above. In the early years of our relationship, he did buy me jewelry, but things I actually wanted and could use. He bought a strand of pearls, a Celtic cross, and earrings. Come to think of it, I can always use earrings, but I don't want them to be the sole gift.

I think two of the most satisfying things he ever bought me for Christmas were a Loreena McKennit CD and a paperback copy of Anam Cara, which altogether must have cost $25.00

I had a fantastic talk with Terah Kathryn Collins, the feng shui consultant, on my radio show yesterday (which will air next Friday, 12/17, at 4PM ET). I learned a good deal, so much that I woke up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night when I realized that the worn and tattered welcome mat at my front door is preventing love, money, and opportunity.

And I'm worried about my mother, who does not like the rehab center. She says the nurses and physical therapists are fine, but the aides act as if they are doing her a big favor. One of them practically threw Mom's breakfast at her yesterday morning. It made her cry.

So, I'm not sleeping soundly. I lay awake for about 40 minutes and decided the hell with it. Conan O'Brien airs twice here, once at 12:30 and again at 3AM. I got up at 3, poured myself a big ol' glass of Merlot, and took it in the family room to watch. By the time it was over, I was sufficiently sedated and went back to sleep.


Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Happiness is a Pinto Wagon

Dad called.

It's amazing. Before Mommy got sick I could count the times he'd called me on one hand. About ten years ago, the roof of the supermarket where I used to shop caved in. Dad saw it on the news, freaked out, and called me to see if I was all right. I nearly fainted.

But now he's not only calling me all the time, he's using a cell phone. Technology catches up with Andy! Here's a guy who refused to buy a car until 1973, and then it was a Pinto Wagon. The neighbors used to stand on their porches shaking their heads as the six of us rolled by. The guy next door used to shout, "That is not a family car!"

We never had a color TV, either, because Dad said color made the actors look old. When my sister graduated from college in 1985, she went out and bought the family a color TV because she was sick of her friends coming over and making snide comments.

Anyway, Mom was discharged to the rehab facility this afternoon. I hope the staff treats her well. The nurses at Sloan were courteous, the food was decent, and Mom was happy there. I hope she'll like this new place, and that it isn't too depressing. I understand that some rehab facilities plant people in wheelchairs along the corridor walls.

She's still talking about going out for dinner on Christmas and suggested the place I went to with Peter and friends on Saturday. That, or The Parkside in Corona, she said. Optomistic as ever, she says she'll make reservations after she gets out of rehab.

Which reminds me: I really should check out both places and make sure they're open for Christmas.

Feng Shui for Better Drama

I spent the morning preparing to tape tomorrow's show. The guest is Terah Kathryn Collins, the author of The Western Guide to Feng Shui for Romance. If want to tune in, the show will broadcast Friday, December 17 at 4PM Eastern. Just log on to HealthyLife.net, and you'll be all set.

I like the book. It demystifies Feng Shui for those of us who don't know bagua from a bagel. In other words, me.

Spoke to Mom this morning. She had her hair cut yesterday, but she still doesn't know when she'll be discharged from the hospital. She has trouble dialing the phone, so I'd better call her again before they cart her off.

It snowed last night, and Peter ended up skidding on the ice on his way to the train station this morning. He leaves at 4AM, so the roads were pretty slippery. They should be better now. It's warmed up a bit, and it's raining.

The girls have Religion today, and it's our day to pick them up (we alternate with our neighbors, whose daughter also goes). I really hope Peter will be home in time to do it. I hate standing in the vestibule of that school waiting for the girls as other children swirl around me and knock me over and don't even say they're sorry. I really hate that!

I just feel like staying home where it's quiet and warm. I'd also like to work out, and I don't want to rush into a shower afterwards to avoid showing up at school smelly.

Bianca's reaction to Babe's confession on All My Children is stupid and frustrating. I won't say another word about it.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Bianca Finally Learns the Truth!

Well, I didn't turn off the television.

I have no self-discipline and less self-respect. Okay?

But, after many, many months and numerous annoying plot gyrations, Babe finally told Bianca that Bess is really her baby, Miranda. Bianca had been led to believe the kid died in a helicopter crash.

Bianca's reaction?

Tune in tomorrow, Sucker.

Why, Oh Why, Do I Watch All My Children?

I need to make a correction.

The show on which Anna Nicole Smith appeared wasn't the VH1 Music Awards but VH1's Best of '04, an end-of-year wrap-up. I watched the broadcast last night. As was reported on the news, a "guard" flew out after Anna, while cooing into the mic, slid off her shoulder straps. The whole thing looked staged.

Let me tell you about my weekend. Peter dropped me off at Sloan-Kettering to visit Mommy and then headed off to drop the children at Mrs. M's in Queens. I was already dressed for dinner in a black velvet top and a black satin skirt. I'd planned to wear chandelier earrings, too, but thought they might be much under the fluorescent lights of the hospital. I kept my coat on as I wandered the floor in search of a sink where I could wash Mom's apple. My neckline was too low for a hospital visit.

Mommy was in great spirits but eager to have her hair washed. She made a couple of jokes about Dad dating after she goes, which Sibling 2, who was in attendance, did not find funny. I thought it was hilarious.

She said, "You know what R. says? When you're young you marry for love. When you're old you marry for money."

And I replied, "Oh, don't you worry about Daddy's money."

And she said, "It's not his money I'm worried about!"

Everybody, including Daddy, had a good laugh over that one. Well, except Sibling 2.

My feeling is, the woman is content, she's not in any pain, she has her sense of humor. She's been in the hospital for two weeks, and no, it's not an ideal situation, but it could be a lot worse.

I gave her the CD player Peter bought so that she could listen to The Nutcracker. Mommy loves The Nutcracker, and since she's too tired to keep her eyes on the television (and television is brain-deadening, anyway), she might enjoy some music. When we were little, she took us to see The Nutcracker just about every single year. Finally, Dad couldn't take it anymore and stopped going.

Peter drove back into Manhattan and came up to see Mom for a little while, and then we went off to meet our friends for dinner. It was the first weekend since the tree was lit, so I wanted to keep the car as far East as possible and walk up to Fifth. Peter was feeling more adventurous and made a right on Park, which was gorgeously lit for Christmas but glutted by jaywalking shoppers trying to outsmart Volvo and Mercedes drivers. Oh, and taxis! I convinced him to take the car back to Lex, where we found a cheap enough parking garage.

B.Z. called me on the cell to say that he and the rest would meet us in bar around the corner from the appointed restaurant. They managed to find the most depressing bar in the neighborhood, a fake Mexican place with beer spills on the tables. They didn't sell Guinness or Bass, so I had a couple of Dos Equis on draft and hoped to God that the pipes had been cleaned out. I once had an unfortunate experience after drinking a few Killian's in a place where I later learned the owner neglected to sanitize the pipes. Can you say roiling digestive organs?

Then we went around the corner to the restaurant. Excellent choice! We had a reservation, so the wait wasn't too bad. The area was teeming with citizens who'd come into see the tree, which we avoided. I'm hungry. Feed me!

I had the most amazing homemade gnocchi. I can't tell you how many times I've ordered homemade gnocchi in a restaurant, only to be served that stuff you get in the plastic bag in the supermarket. But this was superb. So good I scarfed every last speck of it, which after 3 glasses of wine, left me feeling sleepy. I couldn't think about eating dessert.

After picking up the girls (Mrs. M, pointing to Child 2, said, "That one is very energetic." You don't say!) we drove home. I thought they would fall asleep as soon as the car moved, but they were full of stories of the fun they had. Mrs. M took them for pizza and then they went to Walgreen's and bought an assortment of Christmas items for 99 cents with the ten dollars Peter had given them. They watched some show about girls who want to be models, for which Mrs. M offered commentary. She calls it like she sees it, so it must have been hilarious.

Will somebody tell me why I still watch All My Children? Will Bianca ever find out that Bess is really her presumed-dead baby, Miranda, or will they drag this storyline out until the kid goes to med school? They took a good plotline and wrung all all the juice out of it. This show is retarded.

Just now, Anita to Aidan: You had me at the first jelly bean.

It is officially time to turn off the TV.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Anna Nicole Smith as The Elephant Man

All right.

We had a big fat laugh last month when Anna Nicole Smith gave a speech at some award show. She was out of her lunatic mind. News outlets ran the footage ad nauseum. Grammatically-challenged anchors goofed on her mercilessly.

Which was so much more important than providing news viewers could actually use, like the platinum parachutes the boys at Merck will take in the wake of the Vioxx scandal, or the War in Iraq.

Well, local anchors just reported that ol' Anna was at it again last night at the VH1 Music Awards. Ha, ha, ha. Isn't that hysterical? This hot chick looked like she was gonna pull her top off. They had to yank her off the stage. Heelarious!

Question: Think it might be a good idea to get this woman the help she so obviously needs?

No!

Better to keep booking her on award shows. You never know what she'll do! Maybe she'll kill herself on live TV.

Imagine the publicity!

Washington Heights is Not in the Bronx

Thanks to my amazing neighbor, V, who picks crystalline leaves off frosty lawns and shows them to children at the bus stop, I was able to get the 9:11 to Grand Central and visit my mother at the hospital yesterday. V drove me to Bridgeport Station and agreed to get Child Two off the bus in the afternoon and keep her until I came home (Child One had plans to go directly to a friend's house after school).

At the hospital, the physical therapist had Mommy sitting in a chair; she was stronger than the day before, apparently. She sat there running her fingers through her hair, which cascaded to the floor in reddish clouds. For someone who would never even put out the garbage unless she was wearing lipstick, it didn't seem to bother her.

What interested me was that, in spite of her diminished appearance, I found her beautiful. I really didn't think I had it in me. I figured I'd be somewhat repulsed or that I'd at least pity her, but I didn't. She is still everything she was. Clearly, Dad feels the same way.

I visited her at her apartment shortly after her brain surgery in July. While she and Dad waited for the physical therapist to show up, I took a nap. When I woke up, they were sitting on the couch laughing. He was reading to her from a book by James Thurber.

I thought that was the most miraculous thing, to be sitting around in a bathrobe with staples in your head and being read to by a man who adores you. It contradicted everything I'd ever seen on TV and in the movies.

Speaking of TV, Mommy watched Law and Order on Wednesday night. In a scene where a man from Washington Heights learns that his daughter has been murdered, the screen flashed: WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, THE BRONX.

"Washington Heights is in Manhattan, and if you're going to do a show about New York, you should at least know that much," she snapped. "Really and truly!"

So she's still with it.

I had a lovely walk from the hospital to the subway. The weather was crisp but windless. I stopped in the Food Market in Grand Central and thought about buying cashews but decided to get a Balance Bar at the newsstand, where I arranged to meet Peter . We got the Express back home to Connecticut.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The Brilliance of the Universe

Just finished taping the show (well, not just finished; about 15 minutes ago), and it went beautifully.

Don't know if I mentioned that the guest I'd originally scheduled canceled, so I was in the produce aisle Monday wondering how the hell I was going to fill the hour. I can only stand the sound of my own voice for so long.

It could have been a disaster: Three 8-minute segments, a 6-, and a 15- of me going, "um," and "you know," and lots of scarily long pauses. Even though I do write a script, it's hard to fill a whole show on your own without a lot of blather. I mean, how many times can you plug an ebook?

Then, I get a message from a woman named Nan Einarson I never even heard of before, who'd read my post on a marketing network. Liked the post, she said. I went to her page to check her out, and lo and behold, she's a relationship coach with a book to promote.

It was short notice, but I contacted her about doing the show. Thought the odds were kind of long, considering she has a practice, and whatever else. Guests tend to have scheduling conflicts due to other speaking engagements, seminars, and that sort of thing, too.

But she said she'd do it, and not only that, she'd be thrilled to do it. She turned out to be a hell of a guest, too. She was engaging, informative, and altogether pleasant. I learned a few things from her while we were at it.

I'll see if I can pop some info about her on my website. I use IproBuilder, and they've changed the program (which I'd finally become comfortable with), so it could be a challenge.

Oh!

Still no word on Mommy.

Freaked, Not Clever

Twenty-three minutes until showtime.

I'm hopeful about the guest I booked, but I'm distracted. Called the hospital over and hour ago and Dad picked up. Told me to call back in a half hour for results of Mom's CAT scan. When I called back, there was no answer.

I am filled with dread.

Child One's friend informed her yesterday that friend's mother, who's a nurse, said that Mom's going to die. Child One is ten and freaked out.

Child Two responded, "We're all going to die some time."

Yeah, but I'm freaked out, too.