Tag Archives: anniversary

What’s your story?

Today on television, radio, Facebook, Twitter, in offices, on busses, on the subway — just about everywhere in this country — people are telling stories of where they were and what they were doing when the terrorists attacked our nation on September 11, 2001. Some tell harrowing stories of being in the Twin Towers, or in the Pentagon. Others tell of loved ones who died that day or in the aftermath. Some took part in the rescues and clean up. Many, who were deployed to foreign lands to fight the terrorists, were injured or killed.

But most of us were not on the scene. Instead, we watched from afar. Our stories go a little something like this: “Well, I was driving the kids to school, when something came on the radio saying…” or “I was at work, when my wife called and told me about the news reports…”

Those who directly experienced the horrors of 9/11 and its aftermath come forward each year to tell your stories, and everyone should listen. But they are not the only ones who need to speak. Every American who was old enough to remember that fateful day should tell their story, no matter whether they were sitting in a McDonald’s in Minneapolis, walking their dog in Dubuque, or taking a nap in Newark. It doesn’t matter what we were doing or where we were, we must dredge up that day in our minds and talk about it.

It is important for all of us to describe what we thought and felt when we heard the news of the terror attacks eleven years ago, because we tend to lose touch with the things that are most important in life. When we tell our stories of 9/11, we remember that moment when we realized that our uniquely American way of life is precious and must be defended. So today, call a friend, elbow the person next to you on the subway, knock on a neighbor’s door — and ask the question: “What were you doing on 9/11?” Let them tell their story, and then tell yours.

On the 9th anniversary of 9/11, I wrote about NYC Fireman and Navy F-14 pilot John Gormley, who told a direct and personal story about the events of that day, the aftermath, the War on Terror, and the struggle to cope. And last year, I told my own story of being in an aerobics class in the YMCA in Virginia Beach. The stories are different for sure, but both serve the same purpose — NEVER FORGET.

“Fighting to Keep the Flame Alive”  (John Gormley’s story)

“Surviving the Storm of Terrorism”  (My story)

Now . . .What’s your story?

When Strangers Marry

On this day, eighteen years ago, I promised to love, honor and cherish a man I really didn’t know all that well at the time.

In fact, prior to committing ourselves to each other until death, my husband and I were pretty much clueless. We had no idea what kind of husband or wife we might turn out to be. As long as we were in love, we thought, nothing else mattered, right?

Time marched on, and with each passing year, we made new realizations about each other and our relationship.

Most significantly, our vastly different childhood experiences forced us to redefine our pre-conceived notions of “man” and “woman.”

My husband grew up going to private school as the son of a neurologist in the affluent DC suburb of Chevy Chase. At weekend cocktail parties and crew regattas, parents chatted over canapés about politics, world events, and their children’s prep schools. They drank bottled water and bought their food from overpriced grocery stores. They had things like capers and pate in their refrigerators, and drove imported cars.

I, on the other hand, grew up in a town with only one high school, where we thought every one in the world had two days off for hunting season. To the people of my small town, “Chevy Chase” was not necessarily an affluent neighborhood, and it was perfectly normal to get your water from a well and your meat from the woods. Our refrigerators frequently contained bricks of Velveeta, cans of Hershey’s syrup, and in the spring, fish with the heads still on. My parents’ vehicles were pre-owned, and other than one Volkswagen Beetle, none of them were imported.

My husband grew up believing that all women can throw sophisticated dinner parties at the drop of a hat, while being charming and looking fabulous in the latest styles from Lord & Taylor or Talbot’s. He did not realize that he had made a lifetime commitment to someone who shops at Target and whose idea of a party is opening a bag of Fritos and watching a Steelers’ game. My poor husband has had to redefine “woman” to include those, like me, who would prefer a hot poker in the eye than the obligatory social events required of a navy officer’s wife.

Similarly, I have had to adjust my definition of “man” to include those who don’t own any thing that is fluorescent orange. I’ve had to realize that there are men out there who actually prefer white wine to beer, and not all men demand space in the garage for a work bench. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that my husband is afraid of tools, guns and knives, and shudders at the mere thought of putting a worm on a hook, much less eating a fish with the head still on it.

I’ll admit – I have felt somewhat guilty that I’ve never fulfilled my husband’s expectations of what his wife might be. I’ve often wished that I was more sophisticated, more formal, more “fancy.”

And I’ve seen self-consciousness in his eyes too, like the time I had to put the barbecue grill together because he couldn’t understand the instructions, or the time I snorkeled on a beach vacation for four hours alone while he sipped a Pink Squirrel and read an Oprah Winfrey book selection under an umbrella.

If we knew back then what we know now, would we have eternally promised ourselves to each other before the altar of Graystone Church eighteen years ago today?

Without a doubt, I say “Yes.”

When we first met, the one thing we knew for certain was that neither of us was perfect, but we instantly gave each other the pure and unconditional acceptance that had been missing in our lives. Unless one later discovers that one’s betrothed is actually an axe murderer or a spy for the Russians, unconditional love and acceptance is a powerful thing that can transcend unknown personality quirks.

Besides, I’ve also discovered along the way that my husband is incredibly disciplined, dedicated, and hard-working. Better yet, he is fiercely loyal and his love for our family is deep and sincere. Best of all, he makes me laugh.

We may not be the husband and wife we thought we’d be eighteen years ago, but deep in our hearts is the underlying truth that we love and accept each other just the way we are.

So, Happy Anniversary, Honey. Always be yourself, and I will always love you for it.

Under My Belt

This month marks the first anniversary of my blog, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life.” The year has been an interesting one to say the least, with highs, lows and lots of weirdoes in between.

It all started last year, when another writer suggested that I start a blog to showcase my humor columns on the internet. My initial thought process went a little something like this:

Is she trying to tell me that I should do something other than e-mail and shop on the internet? Who does that other than teenagers and Bill Gates? I have a hard enough time attaching documents for goodness sake, does she really think that I am going to put words and even pictures onto some kind of website? I would probably need to hire one of those “Geeks” who drive those little cars, but he’d have to come into my bedroom to get to the computer, and my old lady bras are always lying around and the keyboard has crumbs in it. Even if I could get the house picked up, I’d have to put it on our credit card. . . but what do I do then? I’d have to clean the bedroom and pay him to come back every time I write something. And what the hell is a blog anyway?

Seeing the flabbergasted look on my face, my writer friend said, “Just go to WordPress.com and take a look. Any idiot can do it.”

Her reference to “idiot” struck a chord with me, so I checked it out. Within an hour of the WordPress hompage appearing on my magic box, I had my own blog.

Sure, it only had four articles and an “About the Author” page with the only headshot I have that doesn’t show my double chin, but it was a real, professional-looking blog and I created it without any help, for free.

Soon after launching my blog, I was hooked. Well, on checking my blog stats, that is, and I wondered if I suffered from some rare form of addiction. The computer turned into a black hole sucking me from my normal life as a fledgling columnist and housewife into the dodgy, shadowy world of the blogosphere, where pale junkies strain their sunken eyes for hours on end, fixated on dreams of internet fame.

The kids would come home from school and find me, still in my pajamas, sitting at my desk cluttered with papers, half-eaten sandwiches, and cold cups of coffee. They got tired of hearing me say, “Just a minute honey, I just have to check my stats one more time,” and were forced to forage for scraps and face the fact that “Mom’s a junkie.”

My diseased mind found ways to justify my withdrawal from the real world, like the time I reasoned, “If I get more views, I might become famous, and then the paparazzi would break the story that I’m addicted to my blog stats and I’ll get invited to be on ‘Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.’”

Three months into blogging, I knew rock bottom was near.  My blog was coming between me and my family, my personal hygiene, and the season finale of “The Real Housewives,” so I quit stat checking and regained control of my life. 

Some days it’s hard to juggle my writing, family and maintaining my blog. Although I still find my trembling fingers tapping their way to my stats page, these days it only happens about once a week, and I’m no longer obsessed with the numbers.  Nowadays, my interest in stats is focused more on the who, why and how, and less on the how many.

Who are the people that visit my blog? How do they find the link to my blog? Why do they click on it?

On my stats page, I look at the search terms that lead viewers to my blog, and although the things they “Google” often scare me, I like to fantasize that some of these sickoes and perverts are transformed after finding my articles by accident.

For example, last winter, I posted an article called “Facebook Forensics” in which I cleverly abbreviated “Mother I’d Like to Friend” as “M.I.L.F.”  I was shocked to learn from my stats page that a rash of perverts had stumbled upon the article after typing in search terms such as “rusty milf,” “old milf,” “milf dripping,” and “golden milf.” I hoped I made them laugh, and they gave up searching for old lady porn for at least a few hours.

Sometimes a mere title can inadvertently attract a wave of weirdoes. My blog title was found by people searching for references to “tight sweater meat,” “Christmas tree of meat,”  “sexy meat and potatoes pictures” and “instant peel potato gloves.”  When I posted “On Dirty Socks, Mushy Peas, and Icelandic Volcanoes,” I had no idea that it would end up being read by people interested in “dirty socks,” “dirty dirty socks,” “dirty socks outside,” “dirty socks train,” “dirty underwear,” and “dirty mom.” 

In March, I wrote “My Gut Reaction to IBS,” a first-person story about an unfortunate accident involving a Lay’s Potato Chip bag, which was found by web surfers who typed in the terms “bowel steering wheel,” “IBS one hour drive,” and “IBS buddy dumping.” As long as I was able to make them laugh, I really didn’t care what kind of disturbing hobbies these web surfers had.

The myriad of postings about my dismal dating history called ” The Duke and Duchess of Prom,”  “Midlife’s B-List,” and “I Put the Ooze in Loozer,” were found by some pitiable folks who typed in the search terms: “my first date is prom,” “taffeta monstrosity,” and “cry your heart out you pathetic wimp.” I imagined that these web surfers were comforted to know that they are not the only losers in the blogosphere.

My articles on marriage, “War of the Roses” and “True Marital Romance is a Gas,” showed up when people searched “fiancé says I’m boring,” “wife says I’m predictable,” “extreme humiliation plans for my husband,” and “sweaty, tired, irritable.” I hoped their bitter hearts were warmed when they read my posts.

Finally, there were a few search terms that I just couldn’t make sense of, like “snorting candy,” “stinking saddle,” “chin hairs multiply,” and “spoon licking.” And to the viewer who found my blog by searching “itching, scratching, rubbing or squirming,” I think you might be suffering from a case of worms.

Whoever my blog fans are, I welcome you all and sincerely hope that, whether you are housewives looking for laundry tips or sexual deviants in search of porn, you’ll find something on “The Meat and Potatoes of Life” that will make you laugh.

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