When life hands you lemons, toss them in the trash and eat cake


We count. We are human and we can’t help ourselves.

We count calories. We count pounds gained and lost. We count our ages and birthdays past and future, freckles and wrinkles and sprouting gray hairs. We count the growing acreage of cellulite on our asses and thighs.

We count the hours we’ve slept, or not slept. We count out pills and vitamins each morning, we count the hours until daylight or dusk. We count out change to the cashier. We count out strangers based on first impressions, because their looks, education, speech and/or color don’t match our expectations.

We, needy humans that we are, tend to count on each other more than we count on ourselves. We can count on sometimes having only ourselves on whom to rely. We can count on feeling alone. We can count on the fact that no one person can fill every void in our souls and psyches.

We count transgressions against us, but sometimes, we don’t count the number of grudges we hold. We count the number of dollars in our bank accounts, and sometimes – well, oftentimes — we unfairly compare ourselves to people with higher pay and bigger houses. Which, count on it, only makes us feel like shit.

We count through the seasons, the days until Thanksgiving or Christmas or that three-day weekend. We count the number of vacation days we have, but we rarely count the number of vacation days we’ve already used and what we did, because we are too preoccupied with counting off the days until the next one.

We count our inadequacies, but do we use the same arithmetic to count our talents and good deeds? We count out people who, in our eyes have fucked up or screwed us over, but do we count the number of those people who eventually rise from the ashes?

We count the ex-lovers, the mistakes and the losses, the number of friends and lovers we’ve left behind (or left us behind) and the enemies we’ve gained. We count the days since the expiration date on those relationships, and count the days until we’re “supposed” to feel better about it all. But how often do we count the friends we do have, the lovers who have taught us so much? The love we gain and give back to the universe? The blessings bestowed upon us?

Counting will make you miserable. You see, we don’t count the days until our death, the number of breaths we have left, because we can’t. If we’re too busy counting anything and everything – counting the roses instead of stopping to smell them – it’s literally impossible to live in the simple arithmetic of now.

61 bottles of Klonopin on the wall

I awoke this morning in the midst of a sweaty panxiety attack. (No, that is not a typo.) I stared up at the ceiling, feeling like a plane was going to crash through the roof at any given moment. It is not a good feeling, especially when I couldn’t rationalize how completely ridiculous this scenario was at the time. Panic set in, then anxiety-induced paralysis. It’s difficult to jump out of bed, to avoid disaster, when you’ve turned into one of those stone figures from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Sixty-one days. I have 61 one days until the money well dries up. Take one down, pass it around, and by tomorrow I’ll be at 60 bottles of Klonopin, er, days on the wall.

Anyway, all I could think of, as the plane approached and before my brain turned to stone was this: If Morgan Spurlock could eat only McDonald’s for 30 days straight, effectively turning his liver into that of a 60-year-old alcoholic and thereby filming the brilliant Super Size Me, I can do something even more amazing in double that amount of time. Right?

It’s now afternoon, and the effects of my panxiety attack linger. I took medication, I went to acupuncture, I’m writing. Helpful, but not cures. See, here’s the cure: get off my ass, clean my house, figure out how to use up all my FSA funds before they go away on October 15th, refill every prescription I have and get every doctor’s appointment out of the way. Oh yeah, and find a job, build up my writing portfolio and figure out what the hell I want to be when I grow up. That kind of important shit.

But no, I’m a statue, afraid of my own shadow, my shortcomings, my bruised ego after being turned down for job after job. I feel like I should finish my Master’s degree – in snooty-ass Boston, an MA is “strongly preferred” or “required” in order to get some of the simplest copywriting jobs. Apparently my 15 years of experience counts for squat. I am tempted to send in a resume with these letters following my name: GAD, MDD. Wonder if I could fool the blue-bloods with my “degrees” in Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder?

Sarcasm aside, though, I’m suffering from paralysis by over-analysis. And I’m suffering from the idea that you need to buy a new car if you get a flat tire, or get an MA because some jobs require it. I can’t afford a new car, so I won’t drive at all. I am not going to get my MA, so I’ll stop job-hunting. Totally fucking ridiculous thoughts. Bah humbug to you, stupid anxiety.

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Be afraid, be very afraid, of your iPad

I have rediscovered the Eden of my youth: The library. I can’t afford my ridiculously expensive Kindle habit, among a lot of other things, as my job grinds to a halt in 60 days. (The expense of my Kindle-downloading habit got to the point where I think being a coke-addict would’ve been cheaper.) And that’s good – austerity has made me creative and far more grateful for what truly matters in this life. Put a roof over my head and feed me and give me a way to take care of my pets, and I need little else…

…well, except for books. I cannot live without books. I not only want books, but I truly need them.

So I have decided in order to afford this need/want, I will never pay for a book again, if I can help it.

Last Friday, I went to the Rochambeau branch of the Providence Community Library system and got a library membership. I was as giddy as a little girl whose daddy just bought her a pony. The minute I walked through the door, the smell hit me: the smell of books. Lots and lots and lots of books. Hey mother ship, thanks for calling me home.

That musty, dusty, papery smell took me back to my childhood, where I would spend hours in the public library, carefully choosing my little jewels, the hardcovers and paperbacks that I would take home and read for hours on end, escaping the battleground that existed outside my bedroom door.

So how many books can I check out at a time? I asked the librarian at the circulation desk.

You can check out 99 books at time, she said.

Really?!? I replied with a gleam in my eye, raising my voice well above the library whisper threshold.

She looked scared. She should be. Because there will be a time when I will damn well check out 99 books at once, even if I have to attach a UHaul to the back of my car to cart them home.

This time, though, I checked out four books and two DVDs. Is it scary that it’s now Tuesday, and I’ve finished reading three of the books? And that I’m headed back to the library after I finish this post for more of the same? No wonder I don’t have a job lined up or a boyfriend…

But I digress.

One of the books I checked out – and devoured – last week was Robopocalypse. Although this is pegged as a science fiction book (I’m not a fan of the genre), I would say it’s a horror story instead. It’s a narrative of the near extinction of humankind following a robot uprising and subsequent war. I won’t tell you who wins, but I will tell you to read this book if you want to enjoy an almost guilt-free good yarn. And do it while your laptop, smartphone, tablet, even car, are TURNED OFF and your lights are TURNED ON. Read it in book form, not on your e-reader. Please, heed my warning.

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First Love – Part 2

Continued from First Love – Part 1

Note from author: The conclusion of this story may be a bit of a downer for a Friday… but try to look at the black comedy aspect of it. At the very least – laugh at my dysfunctional family – and love them dearly like I do. I would be a really lousy writer, otherwise.


Mabel: 7 p.m., May 15, 2000

Mabel had been so busy lately with the fundraiser for her anti-abortion non-profit. And with leading the group who said the daily rosary outside the local Planned Parenthood clinic, she had been working long hours and could barely make it home in time to make dinner for George and feed the dog.

Speaking of Indy, feeding him had become irrelevant. She came home most nights to find the food untouched from the night before. Taking him out for walks had become a chore, too. Sometimes she used a towel as a sling, fashioning it under his stomach to hold him up while he peed.

Lately, George had started talking about putting Indy to sleep, using phrases like “quality of life” and “it’s the most humane thing to do.” She refused to listen; killing the dog was just wrong. Sure, she was worried, but he was old and nature would eventually take its course. George could be so infuriating; he always chose the quick fix and never wanted to get his hands dirty. She shuddered to think what would’ve happened if she had not married him. It was her lot in life to keep him in line and, well, prevent him from killing living things, like the dog or the rose bushes out back.

Mabel had just arrived home after another hectic day outside the clinic. She dropped her purse on the counter and propped up the signs, with pictures of dead fetuses and the tagline “Choose Life,” against the kitchen wall. George was at the table, nursing a cocktail and doing the New York Times crossword, no doubt waiting for dinner to be served (which at this point seemed unappetizing, as he glanced at Mabel’s signs). The doorbell rang; it was their neighbor Mr. Langston, holding a soaked and traumatized mass of fur in his arms

He wandered into my backyard and fell into the pool. I had to fish him out with one of those pool nets, he said, depositing the dog into Mabel’s arms.

Unfazed, Mabel said thanks, shut the door and went into the kitchen.

George pounded his fist on the kitchen table, upsetting his cocktail glass and spraying scotch on one of the doily place mats.

Dammit, Mabel, it’s time, he just basically tried to off himself in the neighbor’s pool. I think it’s time to go see Dr. Maxwell.

Ignoring George, Mabel cradled the wet dog in her arms and headed to the bathroom, to wash the chlorine out of his fur.


George: Dawn, May 26, 2000

George was exhausted. He had been up all night. He had searched his medicine cabinet for the right combination of drugs, added water to form it into a paste and shoved it down the dog’s throat. Indy had been thrashing and crying out in pain all night; he didn’t put up a fight when George pried open his jaws and administered the lethal dose. George had wanted the vet to put him down weeks ago, but Mabel was against it. Now George’s Jack Kevorkian hat was planted firmly on top of his balding head, as Mabel slept soundly in the bedroom.

Euthanasia is wrong, it’s not God’s plan, argued Mabel when George had first brought it up two weeks ago.

Never mind she doesn’t think animals have souls, so what the fuck does God have to do with it? George thought. Jesus, if I get to the point where I have to be held up to urinate, just pull the plug.

His mind wandered back to Mabel, as he gently scratched the dog’s back. She had been a study in contradictions and stubbornness during their 35-year marriage. He had resigned himself to it, at times even laughing at the idiocy of it all. However, now, in the present, it made him angry. There was no humor to be found in killing the family dog with a cocktail of drug samples given to him by pharmaceutical reps, when it would’ve been far more humane to do it at the vet’s office. But this was his only choice right now.

He held the dog’s head in his lap, as both his and Indy’s crying and shaking began to subside.

George and Mabel: 3 p.m., May 26, 2000

Okay, so I need to dig the hole at least four feet deep and wrap him in how many trash bags? George bellowed through the receiver at the Health Department rep. He refused to admit that his hearing was beginning to go.

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Plastic pyramids

Walking the dog last night, I heard the crickets, a later-summer soundtrack that soothes me but also reminds me of changes to come. This morning, the sun rose later and the birds weren’t in a noisy food scavenging frenzy to feed their young. It was eerily quiet. Yeah, I know it’s not even halfway through August and I’m already thinking about autumn. I have difficulty living in the moment, particularly these days.

I can’t be truly present because all I can think about is September 1 and October 15. (And believe me, the Keebler Elves in my brain – my anxiety – will NOT let me forget. They need a fucking vacation. A lonnnng vacation, perhaps in Antarctica.) Those are the days I will get my official termination papers and my last paycheck, respectively. So I have about 70 days to find a job, and I’m scared shitless. Sigh. If only someone would pay me to write book reviews and snarky blog posts and/or be an advice columnist and/or be a secret shopper for deep-tissue massage therapists, and I’d be all set. I would’ve found employment months ago.

Ahhh yes, months ago. The day I found out, along with 60 other people, that I was finished at a company to which I had devoted, on and off and then back on, 8+ years of my working life. I work from home, as did a number of other soon-to-be-fired folks, so we were conferenced in. Yes, I got fired on a conference call, where I couldn’t see my firers faces, nor the firees who were on-site, but I could hear stifled sobs and a bit of weeping here and there. Papers nervously being shuffled on what I imagined to be a large, lacquered table, lots of coughing and throat clearing. It is a moment I will never forget. At the time, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry or stick my head into a bag of potato chips (I ended up doing all three, but not simultaneously; eating chips while laughing hysterically is dangerous, trust me on this.) It was time for me to leave, honestly. I had been miserable with my job for the past two years; I just wanted to leave on my own terms, not theirs.

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Is depression the new leprosy?

I have suffered from migraines since adolescence, and I remember my mother telling me that she had no idea what it felt like, as she had never had a headache – migraine or otherwise. She took care of me even though she had no frame of headache reference, holding a cold washcloth to my forehead and making sure I saw a doctor to diagnose my condition. She couldn’t be empathetic, but she was sympathetic to my pain.

During a bout of major depression in the past year – a battle that I am winning – I have experienced empathy, sympathy and compassion. I have friends and family, both near and afar, who have given me shoulder after shoulder to lean on and much encouragement and unconditional love. Some have been empathetic, having suffered from mood disorders themselves. Others have been sympathetic – like my mother’s response to my headaches – wanting to know more about what major depression feels like and how my treatment is going. I once had difficulty accepting that I was lovable. Excruciating difficulty. Now I know I am lovable even in my ugliest, lowest moments and when, at times, I’ve been incapable of being a good friend or sibling or aunt or adult child in return.

One of the most profound experiences happened two weeks ago. It made me cry. I went for a walk with a friend, whom I had not seen since last year. She had no idea what had happened to me in the last 12 months. I told her my story, and when I got to the part about the mental hospital, she stopped walking, gave me hug in the middle of the walking path and said “I had no idea, you are so brave to have done that.” No one had ever told me that I was courageous for seeking help, except my counselors and psychiatrist. Later on in the week, we went rollerblading together. As we were blading down the East Bay bike path, she said “I know you don’t feel like your old, athletic self, but I still see the spark and energy and soul you had when we used to run together. It’s still there. And I promise you, one day in the future, I’m going to be telling you to slow down because I won’t be able to keep up.” Pass me a Kleenex, please.

Conversely, I have been treated like a leper by uninformed fools who think that this is my fault or just a pathetic excuse for not being social or, better yet, that I just need to “snap out of it” or “be happy” or “change my mood.” How simplistic, how fucking easy. Duh, why didn’t I think of those easy fixes before I “chose” to be depressed?

Do you think I choose to “be” this way, much like people choose to suffer from, say, diabetes or heart disease? Do you think my wildest dream was to sit in a mental hospital for six days last November because it was fun and spa-like, shelling out $1,300 of my own money – money I was saving for a trip to Ireland – to get better? No and no. I saw and heard things in the hospital that I still can’t talk about to this day. People are really, legitimately ill, and thank God we have places where we can go to get help as well as the strength to admit we need help. Hopefully the patients who sat beside me in treatment have informed, non-fools at home to support them through recovery.

When I was hospitalized, I was officially diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, which is defined by the National Institute of Mental Health as:

A combination of symptoms that interfere with a person’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy once-pleasurable activities. Major depression is disabling and prevents a person from functioning normally. Some people may experience only a single episode within their lifetime, but more often a person may have multiple episodes.

I fall into the “multiple episodes” category, unfortunately. I have gone into very deep, dark places on and off for almost 30 year, places that I wouldn’t want my worst enemy to see, including starting to cut myself at age 11 and having suicidal ideations in my late 20s. I would look out the window of the equity research firm at which I worked and fantasize about jumping out the window, wondering if a seven-story fall would be enough to kill me. Thankfully, I sought help after having this recurring thought for a week straight.

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First Love – Part 1

Bea: 10 a.m., May 26, 2000

She heard a ding. She had a new email in her inbox. It had no subject line.

 Indy died early this morning.

She ran to the bathroom, hid in one of the stalls and cried. Public crying was frowned upon at her high-pressure, male-dominated job at an equity research firm. She could hear someone in the stall next to her puking, no doubt a victim of last night’s raucous party hosted by the coke-snorting traders on the fifth floor. She crouched on the toilet seat and tried to figure out if she was more upset by her dad’s sucky method of communication or the death of her first love.


Bea: 1985

That spring, Bea started the great Push for a Dog Campaign with George and Mabel. She had already shown conscientious animal ownership by keeping a goldfish alive for nearly five years (unheard of among goldfish enthusiasts!) and nurturing her one-legged finch, Captain Hook, for seven years. And then there were the gerbils, which could go either way in the animal care plus and minus columns (but she was leaning more toward the PLUS side of things). It wasn’t her fault: Troy Henson swore the two gerbils he sold to Bea were females, but after 14 hairless, maggot-like creatures appeared in the cage two months later, Bea had serious doubts about Troy’s gender-determining abilities. She found out years later that he had become Tory Henson, after a sex reassignment operation, and was a hedge fund manager in NYC, having given up his/her dreams of being a rodent entrepreneur.

Once Mabel banished the gerbil breeding factory from the house, selling the surviving 12 to the local pet store (four were consumed by papa gerbil, a vision that years of therapy had yet to erase from her sister Meg’s psyche), Bea started campaigning for a dog. Dogs didn’t swim listlessly around in algae-encrusted prisons or hop around on one foot inside a tiny cage. They didn’t procreate like rabbits and then slap their young between two slices of bread and eat them for lunch. They were protectors of the family, tail-wagging packages of unconditional love.

Mabel and George did not want a dog; to them, a dog was a flea-filled, shed-a-holic germ factory that had no place in their home with its white-washed walls, gleaming hardwoods and expensive china. However, after incessant begging and pleading from Bea, they struck a deal with her: Do your research, find a low-maintenance dog and we may consider it.

Bea always played by the rules. She purchased The Encyclopedia of Canines and dog-eared the pages of breeds she suspected would meet Mabel and George’s approval: small dogs that didn’t consume and then defecate 40 pounds of kibble each week; dogs that needed less exercise than Greyhounds and Labradors; family-friendly, courageous dogs that would most undoubtedly save Timmy after he fell into the well.

Bea proudly showed Mabel the marked pages one afternoon, following a particularly long research session.

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How going on a lot of bad dates can make you a more successful job hunter

I didn’t get the Marketing Consultant job I interviewed for in Boston. The kind recruiter sent me a personalized email, before I received the nauseating system-generated rejection email, to give me a heads up about the “not so good news.” Maybe she liked me. Maybe she felt sorry for me. Maybe she felt she should feed the Good Karma machine that currently keeps her employed. Who the fuck knows. One thing’s for sure, I’ll never find out.

Of course, this made the over-anxious, neurotic Keebler Elves in my brain start over-thinking as they sifted flour and beat eggs while making their Pecan Sandies and Chips Deluxe, which no doubt contained Xanax and a shitload of sugar.

And here is the point at which I arrived after all the thinking and when the Elves went into sugary Xanax shock: Job-hunting is a lot like dating, just without all the fun, booze and (sometimes) good sex. But there are similarities (both can be torturous and frustrating, for one), and valuable lessons can be learned from dating, which translate into being a more realistic, creative and resilient job seeker.


It’s a crying shame that my career counselor strongly urged me (actually, forced is more like it) to remove “More than 20 years of dating experience” from my resume’s career summary. Pshaw. That should count for something, right? They talk about transferable skills in these resume workshops, and over the years, copious amounts of dating have left me with many soft skills of which naive early-marriage-adoptors should be jealous:

  • Works well under stress: (Tampa, 1997) After I was invited into his apartment for a drink post-first-date, my date came out of the kitchen with gin & tonics, but without pants or underwear (yet, oddly, he was still wearing his shirt). I told him to put his pants on, calmly grabbed my purse, left his apartment (while screaming, “Hey there’s a crazy naked man in #301” throughout his apartment complex courtyard) and took a cab home.
  • Creative problem solver: (Gainesville, 2000) One boy-man took me out for Chinese, proceeded to order the entire menu and then said, “Oops, I forgot my wallet can you cover me?” when the bill came. Prior to settling up the tab, I excused myself to use the restroom and covertly walked out the front door. Maybe he is still there, 12 years later, washing greasy Chicken Chow Mein off of plates.
  • Strong communication skills*: (Providence, 2006) The first guy I dated in this city (for three insufferable months) was angry because he thought I loved my dog more than him (of course I did) and gave me the silent treatment during dinner at a local Thai restaurant. I left as soon as the bill came and waited outside in the fresh air for him to take me home. He came out, got into his car and drove off. W I T H O U T me. After I got home, thanks to a kind friend, I had a message waiting on my land-line phone (not the cell phone I was carrying) that said “I hope you had a nice fucking walk home alone in the dark.” He showed up at my apartment the next day, CRYING and apologetic, and I said “Why don’t you go tell your mommy what you did to me and if she thinks it’s okay and respectable for you to make a woman walk 2 miles home alone in the dark, I might take you back. Oh wait, I won’t. Have a nice fucking life.” I shut the door. (*He is now married – who marries these assholes?)
  • Experience with social media: (Various locations and years) I can defriend a recent ex on Facebook within 2 seconds of the break-up and deflect – in hockey-goalie fashion – ex-boyfriends who message me “wanting to be your friend now” or who are looking for a booty call. Booty call? Really dipshit? Did you notice that I live in New England now and you are still living in the same lame-ass town I grew up in 1,200 miles away. (I used to only date the moody poets, obviously not the mathematicians who still have possession of their frontal lobes.)
  • Works well as a member of a team: (Tampa, 1996-2000, various bars and clubs) During my 20s I often went out with a gaggle of singletons (who have since happily moved on to Smug Marrieds-land and lots of diapers). We attracted a broad spectrum of single guys, ranging from recent parolees and crack-heads, to UT grads who did mind-eraser shots until they puked into our laps and Hugh Hefners who thought the size of their paycheck could make up for the fact that they were quite simply gross old men hitting on 26-year-olds. We protected each other from the scumbags and made sure we were visible to the “good” ones (even though we were wearing beer goggles most of the time). But the thing is this: We never left anyone behind and we kept each other safe. We were a team, a drunken, slightly slutty team, but a team nonetheless.


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Welcome mats and doormats

Yesterday I approached my Meals on Wheels route with a heavy heart. I can’t explain it. I think it was because that damn Bon Iver song “Skinny Love” was playing on the radio as I pulled out of the food distribution center. That song makes me sad. I fumbled with the dial, trying to find Bananarama or something else stupid and peppy and retro. Nope, Bauhaus was playing for fuck’s sake. Radio. Turned. Off.

I ruminated about my mood as I drove to my first meal drop-off. I decided it was because I felt like an empty vessel – and today of all days I needed to be shooting compassionate and patient pixie dust out of my ass. These people relied on me. Yet, I had nothing to give. As my wise friend Karen says to me when I’m facing a difficult task or visit home: “Just send your better self. Just for this one thing. It will get you through it.” So I tried to summon my better self, but I wasn’t sure if she was the one driving the car at the moment.

My first drop-off  was easy – I just had to put the food in the cooler, as was the case with the following two deliveries. No human interaction required, yet I still cried in my car between these easy drop-offs. Better self, where are you? I asked myself.

Next on the list: Ed. Sometimes he waited outside for his food, sunning himself on the back deck; other days he left a cooler for me. With twinkly blue eyes and ruddy Irish skin, he reminds me of my grandfather, had my grandfather lived to see his late 70s, instead of only his early 60s.

I pulled up to his house and headed to the back of the house. The cooler was there on the back deck, in place of Ed. Alas, there was no ice, and I’m not allowed to leave the food in the cooler unless it contains an ice-pack.

I knocked.

“Who is it?” said a gruff voice.

“It’s Meals on Wheels,” my better self cheerfully shouted through the closed door.

“What a glorious voice,” he said as he opened the back door.

I handed him his his meal and asked, “How are you doing today, Ed?”

“Tired. I just woke up. But my day just got better the minute I saw you. You look like a damn movie star. A movie star! It should be a crime to be as pretty as you are.”

Taken off guard, I squeaked, “You know, Ed, I was having a difficult morning, and you just made my day.” Putting my hand on my chest I said with less-squeaky conviction, “I will carry your compliment in my heart all day long. Thank you. You have a great day yourself.”

I practically skipped back to my car, with tears in my eyes but a big grin on my face. Yeah, yeah, Ed is practically blind, which probably makes my bovine-sized thighs look super-model svelte, but perhaps he can sense inner beauty. Or maybe I am pretty. Huh. Foreign concept for me.

After a few more easy stops, I reached Meg’s house. She always tries to give me something: brownies, eggplant, earrings, necklaces, a wooden angel. She won’t take no for an answer. We chatted for awhile and then she showed me her garden, as if for the first time, even through she shows it to me every time I visit her. I don’t mind. I like gardens. Besides, it’s a testament to her strength: 88 years old with a bad leg, she spends hours out in her garden, tending to the tomatoes and zucchini and beans.

“I have something for you,” she said, grabbing my hand and leading me out to the garage.

“Meg, I can’t possibly take anything else from you, you have been more than generous,” I argued.

She opened the garage and presented me with an empty Kmart shopping cart.

“I grabbed this when the store down the street closed. I’ve got no use for it, in fact I have an identical one in the basement.”

I stifled a laugh. A shopping cart? Too bad she didn’t have a job or boyfriend waiting for me in the garage.

“Meg, you are so sweet. I can’t possibly take this. I live on the third floor, in a 500 square foot apartment.”

She signed resignedly and said okay. I hugged her and walked down the driveway giggling to myself. “See you next week,” I shouted over my shoulder.

As the morning rolled by, I visited with two other of my favorites, and managed to coax another one of the clients outside her door. She usually leaves the door open just wide enough for me to slip the food through. Victory.

My better self finally emerged, due in no small part to the welcome mat that always seems to be put out for me. Whether I visit with these people or am left with a cooler (but no person) to deliver to, I feel welcome, needed, maybe even loved.

However, my day wasn’t over yet. On an afternoon walk with my dog, I would find out that the welcome mat doesn’t exist in some people’s lives; instead they seek to treat others like doormats. These days, I prefer actively stepping over the threshold of the welcome mat, not being the passive doormat. And the Cruella De Vil who tangled with me yesterday afternoon was met with my better, non-doormat self’s smart mouth and a sense of new-found confidence.

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Four weddings and a divorce?

I would feel un-American if I didn’t wish everyone a Happy July 4. I don’t really know what this day means anymore; this country has veered so far off the Founding Fathers’ path. In a perfect world, I would mandate that Congress work today, creating jobs and regulating Big Banks, rather than taking the day off, only to return after their 4,000th recess this year, where the useless agenda will include repealing Obamacare and taking away low-cost healthcare and birth control for women, among other stupid things. (Jeez, that was a long sentence.)

Okay, so Happy 4th. And now on to my totally non-Independence Day-related post, as I take a nose-dive off my soapbox.

My sister called me two Sundays ago. I didn’t answer. I texted her and told her I would call her Monday. I just wasn’t in a chatty mood and was feeling a bit funky.

She texted me back: “You’re reading the NY Times wedding announcements, aren’t you? Put that shit down. Better yet, set it on fire. It just makes you feel like crap.”

Busted. (But it was not why I felt like not talking. The culprit was a migraine coupled with obsessing about my looming unemployment.)

Yes, I am addicted to the wedding section of the Times. The obsession began about 10 years ago, when I started subscribing to the paper. I waited for that blue-plastic bag to hit my driveway each Sunday, after which I would greedily devour each and every wedding announcement. Shame spiral commencing now…

What attracts me to it? I’m not a person who has dreamed of a princess wedding since I was in the 8th grade, nor is marriage a goal in my life. Finding a companion is, I know that for sure. But marriage may never be in the cards for me, and I am okay with that. Plus, I don’t want to have children, which is sometimes (but not all the time) a good reason for matrimony. I came from a tidy little nuclear family, and look how well I turned out, hahaha.

Anyway, the reason for my unabashed attraction to the wedding announcements is that I feel like I’m reading fiction and creating fiction at the same time. These little parcels, little nuggets of life, fascinate me. I love reading them and then filling in the holes.

First off, it is fiction because the Crest-White-Strips smiles, glowing complexions and Ivy League pedigrees don’t seem real to me. For the most part, these couples have multiple degrees from top universities (mostly Harvard, Brown, Yale and Princeton) and have uber-important sounding jobs. For example:

Mrs. X, 28, will be taking her husband’s name. She graduated magna cum laude from Princeton, where the couple met, and has a PhD in biochemistry from Harvard. She is currently working on the cure for cancer. Her IQ is 170.

Mr. X, 33, has an MBA from Wharton School of Business and a law degree from Harvard. He currently works as Vice President of Asset Management Schematics & Technology & Wealth Management Logistics at XX Bank.

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