The Realities of Now

Photo courtesy of birthday-cake-pictures.com

Photo courtesy of birthday-cake-pictures.com

Back then, you danced. I mean you really danced.

During your 20s and 30s, you’d hear a song that would make you spring to your feet. Channeling the beat of the music through gyrating torso and limbs, you swung your hair in loop-de-loops just for laughs. Rivulets of sweat trickled down your back, and when your evening was done, you slept like a rock.

You danced often. At cousin’s weddings. At military balls. On Friday nights with good friends who came over for dinner and didn’t end up leaving until 1am. At bars or nightclubs you were still young enough to patronize without looking pathetic.

Now, in your 40s and 50s, dancing just isn’t the same.

For the most part, you sit and watch. But every once in a while, like an old dog who’s feeling frisky, you give it a go. A really good 80s song fools you into believing you’ve still got it, so you shuffle to the dance floor doing a sort of pre-dance — biting your bottom lip with one fist pumping in the air — that signals everyone else to pay attention.

Once positioned, you begin, but soon realize that your body doesn’t dance spontaneously like it used to. You must deliberately recall the moves that used to come so freely, as you awkwardly recreate The Roger Rabbit, The Van Halen Jump, and The Hair Swing from faded memory. Eventually, thirst and a twinge of humiliation prompt you to go back to your seat.

Later, in the wee hours, you bolt awake when your calf seizes up with cramps. And in the morning, you discover that you have a kink in your neck, and won’t be able to turn your head to the side for four or five more days.

Back then, in your 20s and 30s, you and your spouse were still discovering yourselves and setting standards for your life. “Perhaps we’re the kind of people who brew craft beers in our garage, using interesting ingredients like apricots and toasted malts? Maybe we surf, play the harmonica in a coworker’s band, bake gourmet biscotti, ride Harleys, or run marathons?”

“When we buy or rent a home, we will absolutely insist on stainless steel appliances. We’ll use the china from our wedding registry every Thanksgiving. Romance will not be diminished when we have kids. Our children will be born using the Bradley Method, they will only eat home-made organic baby food, and will strictly adhere to a system of marble jar behavior rewards as set forth in the June issue of Parenting Magazine.”

Now, after decades of adulthood, your days of self-discovery are behind you. Life happened, and you were too busy working, paying taxes, raising kids, coping with deployments, and keeping your marriage intact to bother with building your identity. In the process, you simply became who you are, naturally.

Today is my 49th birthday.

My husband has been in the Navy for 27 years. Our base house has mismatched appliances, and tumbleweeds of dog hair. I drive a minivan and take fiber supplements. My husband is bald and falls asleep in his recliner. I haven’t seen our wedding china since we boxed it for storage before an overseas move seven years ago. The money we dreamed we might spend on exotic travel and trendy décor ended up being used on braces for our three kids, mortgages, fan belts, plumbers’ bills and college funds. Our idea of a great Friday night is fire-pitting with the neighbors and still being in bed by 11pm.

Life isn’t as we imagined it back then, but believe it or not, we’re happier than we could have dreamed.

You see, after more than two decades of marriage, parenting, and military life, I may not dance all that much anymore. But I’ve gained the wisdom to know that it’s the love of family, the companionship of friends, the honor of military service, and the richness of life experiences that really matter.

So today, when people tell me, “Happy Birthday!” I say to myself, “Bingo.”

Navy Ball 2010 ... I paid for this the next morning.

Navy Ball 2009 … I paid for this the next morning.

The guard that never smiles

guardDuring morning rush hour, cars creep forward in a queasy gas-break rhythm toward Gate 1. The most recent ISIS threats have prompted heightened security, so the guard is taking his time.

After school drop offs, I join the security line in order to get back to our house on base. With nothing else to do but wait, I flop down the visor and grab a flosser from my purse. Every few seconds, I peek under the mirror and inch the minivan toward the back bumper of the blue Prius ahead of me.

In the space of two minutes, I manage to floss my teeth, pluck a few stray eyebrow hairs with the tweezers I keep in the center console, and dust the pollen off the dashboard with my sleeve.

With the gate finally in sight, I feel for my military ID card. I use the pad of my thumb to grip the edge of the laminated card, tugging it from its slot. Every once in a while, it’s not there, and I feel that nervous burn in the pit of my stomach. Did I lose my military ID? But after a few panicked seconds, I find it in the wrong slot or rattling around in the bottom of my purse with gum wrappers and stray coins.

This time, my ID is just where it’s supposed to be, and I slide it out between my thumb and forefinger in one fell swoop.

As the blue Prius ahead of me stops at the guard station, I see him.

Oh no … not that guard, I mumble to myself with dread. Will he finally crack a smile?

I’ve known many gate guards in my 21 years as a Navy spouse. Our family has lived on base for our last three tours of duty in Germany, Florida, and now Rhode Island. We also lived on base in California, but that was during the 90s when the gate guard, if there was one at all, would simply wave vehicles through, casually eyeballing for military decals on windshields.

Nowadays, in the Post 9-11 era, military folks have “personal” relationships with their gate guards, who check our military ID cards multiple times each day. We begin to recognize the guards and their distinct personalities.

There’s the chipper young military guards willing to exchange “thank-yous” and “have-a-nice-days” while fulfilling their duties. The Department of Defense police guards are a more eclectic mix. Some reflect local social mores — southern hospitality, west coast mellowness, midwest sincerity, northern reserve. In Florida, I enjoyed banter with guards who had slow-cooked southern drawls, and here in New England, I perk up when I see the one who chats with an amusing Nor’eastern accent, complete with dropped “r”s that turn up on the end of other random words.

Of course, no matter which guard is at the gate, there is always that serious moment when they swipe my ID through their hand-held card reader, apparently revealing everything in my past, including that day I got grounded for digging worms up in the neighbor’s back yard. No matter what I’ve done in my life, I always feel like I’m in trouble. But what a relief it is when the guard looks up from his little machine of secrets, hands me my ID, and says with a smile, “Have a nice day, ma’am.” Whew!

But some guards are different.

After checking the Prius driver’s ID, the stoic guard orders him to proceed with a flick of his finger, as if jettisoning a bug from his shirtsleeve. I sheepishly approach the guardhouse, handing over my ID. Should I kill him with kindness? Drip with sarcasm? Or hit him head-on with, “Hey mister, this ain’t no Buckingham Palace – lighten up!”

But as usual, I utter no words other than a weak “thank you” after being summarily dismissed.

Driving away, I realize, as much as I’d feel more comfortable if he would let his guard down and smile, he might be more comfortable keeping his guard up.

And as long as the guards are keeping us safe, I guess I’m comfortable with that.

Put to the test

final-exams-yes1

It’s that dreaded time of year, when despite the blooming trees and singing birds, many baggy-eyed humans have confined themselves to dark corners, their heads buried in musty old textbooks. Yep, Exam Week. The heavenly flora and fauna beckons us to run free, but for some, it’s Hell on Earth.

In the Molinari family, all three of our children are in the midst of brutal final exams. Dealing with one anxious, hormonal teenager is enough to give a parent palpitations. But with all three of our children taking tests, my husband and I are considering installing a defibrillator in our kitchen.

I wonder if they have a stainless steel model?

Interestingly, one individual may deal with being “put to the test” differently than another. In our family, we each have completely distinct test-taking personalities.

The Giggler

Our youngest daughter Lilly, a 9th grader, doesn’t whine or complain. She simply disappears into the computer room at night, and momentarily, we happily forget that she exists. But then, usually about 30 minutes into her study session, we hear it.

At first a murmur, and then a giggle, followed by bursts of outright laughter. “Lilly!” we yell from our lounge furniture, after remembering that we do indeed have children, and that they are supposed to be studying, “What’s going on in there?”

“Julia and I are quizzing each other on Skype,” she claims innocently enough. But somehow we feel duped as the giggle-fest continues.

The Thespian

For our middle child, Anna, an 11th grader, exam week is a time of high drama.

“I’m ready to be infuriated — wish me luck,” I said to my husband last night before entering our computer room to find out why Anna was crying. After years of enduring Anna’s melodramatic behavior, and her epic stress-induced wrath, I knew I was in for a show.

I opened the door to find her draped theatrically over the couch, surrounded by textbooks and paper. One gangly arm covered her eyes, while her downturned lower lip trembled. “What’s wrong?” I asked, bracing myself for histrionics.

“I’ll never get it all done!” she wailed, suspiciously not lifting her arm to show her allegedly tearful eyes.

I spent the next twenty minutes explaining to Anna that — if she takes a deep breath, breaks her work into manageable pieces, cancels unnecessary activities, etc. – she will survive Exam Week. But a happy ending is not what Anna had in mind for this script, which she envisioned more like the inevitable doom in A Streetcar Named Desire or the dire destiny in Romeo and Juliet. As the weeping and wailing continued, I ducked out of the room to spare myself her operatic final curtain call.

The Sloth

Our eldest, Hayden, a Freshman in college, takes a more laid back approach to Exam Week. In fact, in response to the added pressure, he “lays back” on just about anything he can find – his desk, his piano bench, the floor, the couch at the Student Union, and of course, his bed.

“Multi-Variable Calculus? Physics II? Computer Science? Geeze, Hayden, are you worried about studying for all those exams?” we anxiously asked him over the phone last week. “Yea … [elongated yawn] … I’ll study once I get off the phone … but maybe … I’ll take a little nap first.”

The Procrastinator and The Pragmatist

As for my husband and I, we suffered through many tests ourselves back in the day. I was a productive yet chronic procrastinator, doing everything BUT study. During exam week, my dorm room was thoughtfully decorated, my nails meticulously manicured, laundry folded, and muffins baked. My career military husband, however, was the consummate pragmatist when he took exams, doing what needed to be done without needless emotion. After 27 years in the Navy, he’s still a pragmatist, although much of his “studying” is now done in the bathroom.

It really doesn’t matter whether our children laugh, cry, or snore their way through Exam Week, as long as they make the grade. And besides, their most important lessons in life are definitely yet to come.

Drumroll, please!

Giveaway-Winner

After random selection, by my son who just got home from college and was cleaning his room before I called him into the office, from a scattered pile of tiny pieces of crumpled up paper bearing the entrants names … I am happy to announce that the official winner of the brand-spanking newly released Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Combo Pack of the Clint Eastwood movie “American Sniper” is …..

RachelCS !!!!

Rachel’s husband is currently deployed, and I think I speak for all the Meat & Potatoes readers when I say, “Thank you for your sacrifices, and we will pray for your safe return!”

For those of you who did not win, the American Sniper Combo Pack is available through Amazon:  http://amzn.to/1zKw2VJ, and remember that one dollar from every DVD purchase up to One Million Dollars will go directly to Wounded Warrior Project. 

Congratulations to Rachel … and I hope you have a clear connection when you contact your deployed husband today! Happy Memorial Day — Never forget our fallen heroes and the sacrifices they made for our freedom!

Heroes and Hot Dogs

Image via freerepublic.com

Image via freerepublic.com

“Why did I come in this room again?” I often mutter to myself, while puttering around my house. At the commissary, I spend the first few minutes mumbling, “Now, what was it that I needed?” Without fail, an hour after entering a Target store, I find myself in the checkout line, inquiring, “Wait, what was that one thing I came here to buy before I threw all this other stuff into my cart?”

I’ve been known to search for sunglasses that were perched conspicuously on my head. I’ve forgotten to take my kids to orthodontist appointments, piano lessons, and sports practices. I’ve assembled an entire lasagna, only to realize I forgot the layers of ricotta. I’ve bumped into people I’ve known for months, and drawn a total blank when trying to recall their names. I’ve run a finger over my armpit while getting dressed, wondering, “Did I forget to put deodorant on?”

It hasn’t always been this way. In my 20s, my mind was a steel trap. As I observed the world, all data was efficiently processed and stored for rapid recall. When someone asked if I needed to write down a phone number, list or appointment, I would say with all sincerity, “Nah. I’ve got it all up here,” tapping a finger to my temple with confidence.

But somehow, after 21 years of marriage and military life, my brain cells are shot. Maybe it’s hormones. Maybe my college years finally caught up with me. Maybe I’ve ingested too many artificial sweeteners. Maybe raising three teenagers causes premature dementia.

I’m not quite sure what it is – or maybe I’ve simply forgotten – but I have enough smarts left to know that I must compensate for my intellectual decline.

Nowadays, our refrigerator looks like a Punjabi taxicab, covered in grocery lists, appointment cards, bills, school schedules, recipes, and a calendar the size of Texas, all highlighted in fluorescent marker and affixed with a garish display of souvenir magnets. It isn’t sleek or stylish, but it helps me remember things. And besides, who needs stylish kitchen appliances when you live in a base house that hasn’t been updated since the Carter administration?

Thanks to my gigantic calendar and four kitsch magnets, one of which doubles as a nifty bottle opener, I am reminded that there is an important federal holiday coming up.

Although we never seem to forget the hot dogs, pickle relish and cold beer for our traditional cookouts, we tend to forget why we get the day off to begin with. On May 5, 1868, Major General John Logan declared that flowers should decorate the graves of fallen Union and Confederate soldiers of the Civil War at Arlington Cemetery, stating, “Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”

By the end of World War I, “Memorial Day” was being recognized across the country as a holiday to honor those soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who gave their lives fighting for our country’s freedom in all American wars.

This Monday, May 25th, I’ll make a list so I won’t forget the hamburger buns, the Cool Whip, the plastic forks and the charcoal briquettes. Hopefully, I won’t mutter to myself, “Wait, why do we have the day off today?” But if I do, I’ll only need to glance up from the comfort of my lawn chair at the American flag flying over our front door and think,

Of course, its Memorial Day … how could we ever forget?

M&PofL readers! Don’t forget to comment on my last post — “I’ll give you ‘American Sniper” and an ugly cry face” — to enter for a chance to win a brand new Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Combo pack of the hit movie, ‘American Sniper!’ Just leave your comment after that post, and I’ll announce a winner on Memorial Day!

I’ll give you ‘American Sniper’ and an ugly cry face

American Sniper 3D Box Art

Nope. Never. Not on your life. Forget about it. It ain’t happnin’. 

That’s what I’ve been saying when asked to host giveaways on my blog for the past several years. But I must admit:  ‘American Sniper’ left me a weeping, snotty, patriotic mess when I saw it back in February, so I am proud to partner with Grace Hill Media and Warner Brothers to host my first Giveaway!

Yep, you read that right. I, Lisa Smith Molinari, of somewhat sound mind and very round body, have solemnly agreed to give away one ‘American Sniper’ Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Combo Pack to one person who leaves a comment at the end of this post by noon on Monday, May 25th — Memorial Day. Your comment — one comment per household please — should state how you plan to honor our fallen military heroes this Memorial Day. I will select one winner randomly from the commenters and will announce by 5pm on Memorial Day. If you won, send me your address via my contact page, and I’ll send the Combo Pack to you in a flash. Just be sure to stock up on tissues for that ugly cry face — sniff!

More good news:  ‘American Sniper’ is being released onto Blue-ray/DVD/Digital on May 19th — AND — one dollar from every purchase up to 1 MILLION DOLLARS will be donated to Wounded Warrior Project, a national nonpartisan organization whose purpose is “to raise awareness and to enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members, to help injured servicemen and women aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs.” To buy the movie on Amazon, use this link:  http://amzn.to/1zKw2VJ

If you haven’t seen the movie, here’s a synopsis from the press release:

Navy SEAL Chris Kyle is sent to Iraq with only one mission: to protect his brothers-in-arms. His pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield, and as stories of his courageous exploits spread, he earns the nickname “Legend.” However, his reputation is also growing behind enemy lines, putting a price on his head and making him a prime target of insurgents. He is also facing a different kind of battle on the home front: striving to be a good husband and father from halfway around the world. Despite the danger, as well as the toll on his family at home, Chris serves through four harrowing tours of duty in Iraq, personifying the spirit of the SEAL creed to “leave no one behind.” But upon returning to his wife, Taya (Sienna Miller), and kids, Chris finds that it is the war he can’t leave behind.

AMERICAN SNIPER

In honor of Military Appreciation Month and upcoming Memorial Day, I am proud to help spread the word about Chris Kyle’s story, and I wish to thank all US Servicepersons and their families for their sacrifices!

 

 

The Duke and Duchess of Prom

Scan 2“Oh, Mom,” my daughter Anna crooned dreamily on the way home from Junior Prom last Saturday. “We went outside for a walk, and he gave me his jacket and held my hand… it was so romantic!”

She floated off to her room, her head swimming with fresh memories of Prom Night that will stay with her forever.

In fact, 21 years of attending military balls as a Navy wife have not clouded my own memories of Junior Prom.

It was the spring of 1983. Despite a disappointing first kiss the year before, I couldn’t quell my teenage optimism and believed that I’d soon meet the boy of my dreams.

But three weeks before Junior Prom, I was still dateless. I was so desperate, I threw a note with my name and address on it out the track team bus window at an away meet, in hopes that some athletic stud from another school would find it and write to me. A few days later I got letters from two pitiful geeks who had fished my note out of a mud puddle on their way to the library.

The following week, a boy in my science class followed me to my locker. He was nice enough, but had a seemingly perpetual sinus infection. A mouth-breather, the bottom of his upturned nose was always red and chapped. Speaking in a nasal tone through a full set of metal braces, he asked, “Woodyu wan do go wid me do da prom?”

Caught off guard, I stuttered, “Uh, wow, great, but I might be going with someone else, I’m not sure, I need to check … I’ll let you know….”

I had no idea what I was talking about. I had to come up with another date fast, unless I wanted photos of me and Mr.Crusty-Nose arm in arm under the balloon arch.

I thought of a football player I knew — well, actually, he was the water boy who got promoted to 3rd string lineman. A likable, husky kid with a jolly disposition, he was a mascot of sorts to the team, who had nicknamed him “The Duke.” He seemed the perfect candidate to be my prom date – not popular enough to reject me, and free of excess nasal mucus.

I cornered The Duke after school and proposed that we go to the prom together “as friends.” “Excellent!” he responded with a smile.

The next day, I broke the news to Mr. Crusty-Nose. I felt like schmuck lying to him, but good thing I did, because he asked another girl who ended up becoming his wife. So, I guess you could say, he owes me.

My cousin and I swapped dresses – I gave her a violet taffeta monstrosity with huge puffy sleeves, and she gave me a pink lace number that wasn’t much better.

The Duke showed up in a thoughtfully coordinated rental tux – a mauve poly blend with matching velour around the cuffs and collar, a ruffled shirt, and an enormous mauve bow tie. Although there was no romance in our arrangement, we both felt like a million bucks, and were hopeful for a fun night.

We sat with The Duke’s football player friends at dinner. They had always intimidated me, and I was glad to have the Duke as my buffer. Halfway through the cordon bleu, the boys were exchanging insults and inside jokes, when suddenly one of them pointed at my date and me and shouted, “Hey, it’s The Duke and The Duchess!” I swallowed my humiliation and faked a laugh.

Later at the dance, The Duke requested his favorite song, “You dropped the bomb on me” by The Gap Band, and we danced a mauve streak. All in all, my Junior prom was a pretty good time. I might have sacrificed the romance that all teenage girls dream about, but not everyone gets to be The Prom King and Queen.

Some of us have to settle for being The Duke and Duchess.

Military Spouse Appreciation Day: Is it real?

SMS

The calendar is full of obscure national holidays.

Why, in the last week alone, we’ve been encouraged to celebrate National Chocolate Parfait Day, Beer Pong Day, Scurvy Awareness Day, and National Lumpy Rug Day.

Last month, we were afforded the opportunity to recognize Ex Spouse Day, National High Five Day, Bat Appreciation Day, and National Cheeseball Day. And next month, we’ll gear up for World Jugglers’ Day, Hug Your Cat Day, and Waffle Iron Day.

And nestled in there — among all those weird holidays praising Paul Bunyan, Peach Blossoms, and Ear Muffs — on the Friday before Mother’s Day, is Military Spouse Appreciation Day.

Is Military Spouse Appreciation Day a real holiday? Or is it just another unsung observance like Extraterrestrial Abductions Day and Tell a Fairy Tale Day?

According to Jacob Stein of the Congressional Research Service, there are only “11 permanent federal holidays established by law … New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday, Inauguration Day (every four years following a presidential election), George Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.”

The vast majority of “National Holidays” such as Grandparents’ Day, Squirrel Appreciation Day and even Halloween are not established by an act of congress, but rather, are the result of widely recognized tradition, brilliant corporate marketing campaigns, or a bunch of goofy college kids who are good at social media.

However, there are a some special days of the year that, although they are not deemed to be federal holidays, they have so much national significance that the President of the United States issues an annual proclamation calling upon the public to honor the cause, event or individual.

Military Spouse Appreciation Day is one of those significant public observances.

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan established Military Spouse Appreciation Day by Proclamation 5184, recognizing the countless sacrifices and unselfish contributions made by Military Spouses since the days of the Continental Army:

“[Military Spouses] subordinated their personal and professional aspirations to the greater benefit of the service family. Responding to the call of duty, they frequently endured long periods of separation or left familiar surroundings and friends to reestablish their homes in distant places. And there they became American ambassadors abroad. As volunteers, military spouses have provided exemplary service and leadership in educational, community, recreational, religious, social and cultural endeavors. And as parents and homemakers, they preserve the cornerstone of our Nation’s strength—the American family.”

Thirty years later, Military Spouses continue to support their husbands, wives, families and country, despite facing serious career obstacles and family hardships because of their unpredictable, mobile military lifestyle. Why don’t we recognize “Accountant Spouses,” “Engineer Spouses,” or “Chef Spouses” in the same way as Military Spouses? Because being a Military Spouse is not just a description based upon a husband or wife’s job – it’s a lifestyle commitment that requires a sense of duty, honor and patriotism.

Especially now, it’s crucial that the public shows its appreciation for our all-volunteer military force, along with the family members at home. Like their husbands and wives, Military Spouses need to know that their sacrifices are worth it.

This year, Military Spouse Appreciation Day falls on May 8th.

During the week you may feel compelled to celebrate Star Wars Day (May 4), Ferret Day (May 5), and Lost Sock Memorial Day (May 9), but carve a little time out of your busy calendar to recognize a truly important national holiday.

On May 8th, commemorate Military Spouse Appreciation Day by acknowledging that, not only is it a real holiday, it’s really important.

Confessions of a TV Junkie

meetingsIn the basement of a dingy community center, a florescent light buzzes over a dozen or so people seated in a circle of metal folding chairs. Some nibble anxiously at store-bought sandwich cookies, while others sit in nervous silence. There is a screeching of chair legs against linoleum, as one bleary-eyed woman stands with a trembling Styrofoam coffee cup to speak.

Hello, [clears throat] my name is Lisa … and I, … I am a Binge Watcher.

It’s been one week since my last television fix, and I’m here to share my story.

Believe it or not, there was a time when I didn’t even know what Binge Watching was. In fact, while our Navy family was stationed in Germany, we felt lucky that Armed Forces Network aired day-old episodes of Survivor and American Idol. The rest of the time, we entertained ourselves with middle-of-the-night live football broadcasts, quirky BBC cooking shows, and strange AFN public service announcements.

But when we moved back to the States, my husband and I discovered the joys of Digital Video Recording. Despite this, our television use was purely recreational. We were mere “social watchers,” catching a recorded program here and there, and streaming a movie over the weekend. Little did we know, we were perched on the slippery slope of instant gratification.

Eventually, we needed more episodes to be entertained. Our digitally savvy kids introduced my husband and I to the allure of services such as “On Demand” and “Hulu.” How intoxicating it was to take a double hit of “The Bachelor” and chase it with “Deadliest Catch” all in one evening!

Soon, we were hooked, and there was no going back.

Before we knew it, we were spending perfectly sunny weekends holed up in the family room of our base house watching episode after episode of random television series. We told everyone that we were “just catching up on ‘Modern Family'” or that we were “simply wondering what all the hubbub was about ‘Downton Abbey.'”

Ironically, it was the show “Breaking Bad” that nudged us into the deep dark abyss. We’d been jonesing to see the AMC series for a while, and when we found out that the first 54 episodes were On Demand for a limited time leading up to the final season, we knew we had just scored.

During our epic three-week “Breaking Bad” bender, we finally hit rock bottom. Our family room looked like the scene of a rave party, strewn with soda cans, popcorn and Chinese take-out boxes. Our pupils were permanently dilated as we stared, transfixed, into the psychedelic LCD screen, our cold, clammy fingers gripping the smudged remotes.

We were so strung out after that binge, we quit cold turkey for a while, satisfying our cravings with short doses of “House Hunters” and “Seinfeld” reruns in hopes that we’d avoid the painful withdrawal symptoms of rapid detox.

However, lately, ads keep popping up for April premiers of “Game of Thrones,” “The Real Housewives of New York,” and “Wolf Hall.” The final season of “Mad Men” premiered on April 5th, and we still haven’t finished watching “House of Cards” and “Downton Abbey” … What’s a TV junkie to do? Binge watch, of course!

I must confess that Spring Premiere Season has triggered my recent relapse. Although I’m not sure there’s a 12 step recovery program for Binge Watching, I’m absolutely certain I’ll gain 12 pounds if I don’t get up off the couch and stop watching so much TV.

So, mark my words: I’m quitting Binge Watching for good this time. I’m 100% serious. No more lounging in sweatpants on Sunday afternoons pressing “play” hour after hour. Spring has sprung, and I’ll be spending all my time in the great outdoors. I swear, I’m going to do it, and there’s no time like the present.

And I’ll start just as soon as the “Mad Men” final season is over.

No day like tomorrow

procrastinate

My column was late this week.

A spaceship wasn’t hovering ominously over Rhode Island. Our base house didn’t burn down. My computer didn’t seize up with “the blue screen of death,” although that did happen back in ’07 just after my husband deployed to Djibouti. None of our kids came down with double pneumonia. And miraculously, I wasn’t arrested for fraud after filing our tax returns.

Nope, I don’t have one decent excuse for my column being late. Truth be told, I procrastinated.

Normally, I submit my column to newspaper editors on Fridays for publication the following week, so that I can spend the weekend watching the kids’ sports, barbecuing with the neighbors, and walking the dog along the water.

Come Monday, I know it would be smart to write 200 words on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; leaving Thursday for rewrites and editing, and Friday for polishing and submission.

But that makes way too much sense.

Friday is eons away, I think to myself. Today, I’ll get laundry done, mop the floors, wash the minivan. Getting housework done will free me up to write more tomorrow.

But between the puppy being afraid of the vacuum cleaner, the hour-long call from my mother, the search for missing socks under the kids’ beds, and that riveting episode of “Cops” I had to watch until the end, I barely manage to defrost the pork chops.

On Tuesday, I wake with a purpose. I’m going to make some headway on that column … as soon as I think of an idea. What will I write about this week?

My notebook in hand, I sit in a sunny spot in the backyard to let the dog sniff around while I search for inspiration.

Hmmm … the beds could really use a bit of weeding. Three hours later, there are piles of garden debris out by the curb, my fingernails are packed with dirt, and I’m on my way to Home Depot for grass seed, tomato cages, and annuals.

On Wednesday, I determine that, if I spend the day in front of my computer, I can turn out 600 words and still have Thursday for editing. All I need is a subject. I troll the Internet, looking for topics, current events, some nugget of news that might feed an idea.

Let’s check Facebook to see what’s trending.

Big mistake. An hour later, I have scrolled all the way down to 2012, got sucked into a comment debate over whether mustard or ketchup is better on hot dogs, and watched a string of YouTube videos of dogs with human voiceovers.

I figure I’ll switch out the laundry and try again after lunch, but the afternoon brings a case of the sleepys. I convince myself that a 20-minute catnap on the couch will do wonders, but you can probably guess how the day goes from there.

Thursday I wake up stressed, which should provide adequate motivation to meet my 24-hour deadline. But by dinnertime, I have done everything BUT my column. I organized the junk drawer, swept out the basement, clipped my toenails, put our National Geographic magazines in chronological order, and dug the fuzz out of the keyboard with a toothpick.

I plan to let my editors know on Monday, I just can’t do this anymore.

Friday and Saturday pass in hopeless defeat. But on Sunday, I notice that the sky did not fall. The Earth did not implode. I am still breathing. My editors probably haven’t even noticed that my column is late. I realize that my fear of failure has caused me to create conditions where success is impossible. With the dangerous awareness that I could play this cat and mouse game with myself every week if I so dared, I finally sat down and tapped out this column about procrastination.

I hit send and promise myself: I will put an end to this self-destructive habit, and I’ll do it first thing — tomorrow.

%d bloggers like this: