This Suburban Life

yogi-tea-fortune-happinessI sit at my writers’ group on Saturday night with my third (or maybe it’s my fourth) glass of wine in my hand and feel so lucky to be int this group of smart, funny, kind women who happen to be great writers. They encourage me and hold me accountable and don’t judge me. We laugh and cry and commiserate and tell each other our triumphs and heartaches and fears. I look forward to our meeting every month. I know that the next morning I will write “Writers’s group” in my happiness journal for Saturday, February 10th.

A little after midnight I receive a text from Dave asking if I’ve heard from Marley yet. She’s at a concert downtown at the Shrine and she said she’d text us on the way home. We knew it would run late, but it seems too late. I tell him I’ll come home and wait up for her.

Rina lives down the street and Dave dropped us off so we could take a Lyft home, but Kim only had one glass of wine and even though she lives in the opposite direction she says she’ll give us a ride. Julie’s husband dropped her off too, installing Uber in her phone so she can get home that way. Kim offers to drive her home too, but she declines, saying she lives too far (all the way in Thousand Oaks). We tell her Lyft is better and she promises to download Lyft next time. We tell her to text us when she gets home.

Marley’s phone goes straight to voicemail and she does not answer texts or Facetime. I’m not quite worried. Yet. But I’m tired and want to go to bed. Marley calls at 12:44. She’s sorry! No service! She can’t believe how late the show went. They are on their way home, but might stop for a quick bite to eat once they get in the Valley. I tell her fine, as long as they go through the drive through.

I sit on the couch with the dog snuggled next to me and try to read my book , but it makes me too sleepy, so I scroll through Instagram the blue light from my cell phone keeping me semi-alert. Julie group texts to thank Laurel for a lovely evening and to let us know that she is home safe and her Uber cherry has been popped. I let them know that Marley is on her way home. Drunk “I love you” texts circle around. I try to doze off but don’t really and Marley walks through the door at 1:45. She had fun and I’m happy that live music gives her the same thrill it gives me. Since it’s technically Sunday, maybe I’ll hold onto that feeling for my Sunday happiness journal entry.

Sunday morning I wake up late, but not nearly late enough. I’m lucky that too much wine and cheese and not nearly enough sleep did not net me a hangover. I have a cup of coffee and make toast out of the Trader Joe’s beer bread I made for dinner Friday night and chat with Dave. I’m meeting my mom at Costco at 10:00, but have to run errands first so I need to get moving. I go to Bed Bath & Beyond for hairspray, mascara, and a nail file, using my $5 off $15 coupon. I text my mom and ask if we can meet at 10:15. I didn’t get going quite as early as I’d meant to and I’m running late as usual. Then I head to Target with a return and pick up cedar balls and store brand peanut butter for the dog’s Kong. Small, but necessary suburban errands.

We take our time and Costco and buy too much and chat in the parking lot after loading up our cars as our frozen items grow warm.  I don’t get home until almost noon. I put the groceries away, make myself some tuna, and start some laundry. At 1:00 I insist Marley wake up. I spend the rest of the day on the laundry, organizing papers and filing, getting my tax documents together for my appointment with our accountant on Thursday. Sunday busy work.

Rina and Kim and I have been texting throughout the day. Rina has clothes she had put aside for a clothing swap that Kim and I went to a couple of weeks ago that Rina was unable to attend and wants us to come over and look at them before she donates them. We were supposed to go over at 4:30 but she is stuck at a birthday party and it’s looking like 5:00. Too late, I say. I need to start dinner. Maybe another night? Kim calls me at 4:59. “I’m coming over to get you. I’m already on my way. I need to cross this off my list. It will only take a few minutes.” I inform my family I’m being kidnapped and dinner will be a bit later and head out the door.

We go through Rina’s clothes quickly. Rina’s family is going to a friend’s for dinner at 5:30. Kim has been hiking all day and still needs to make her Sunday trip to the market. And I have to make dinner. But it doesn’t feel rushed. It feels nice to be with my friends, even briefly. A quick reprieve from the busyness of a Sunday evening. Again I feel lucky. To live in a Shangri-La at the northern most end of Los Angeles. To spend a Sunday doing mundane and ordinary, yet useful things.

I go home and Dave and Marley are watching TV and I smell popcorn, their hunger unable to wait for my late dinner. After a dinner of roasted chicken, roasted cauliflower, green beans and rice, we all clean up and then I walk the dog. I choose “new country” on Pandora and decide to do a two and a half mile loop. Dave and Marley want to watch something that doesn’t interest me, so I retreat to the bedroom to read my book. It’s only 8:00, but I put on my pajamas and snuggle into bed early at the end my my ordinary Sunday in the suburbs. I am content.

What will I write in my happiness journal for Sunday? All of it.

Valentine’s Day in the Suburbs

When Dave and I were dating we used to celebrate Valentine’s Day on the 13th. On our first Valentine’s together he had a convention on the 14th (convenient, right?) so we went out the night before instead. We liked the quietness of the restaurant – no crowds or “special” (overpriced) menus – and carried on the tradition of February 13th for years after.

We gloated a bit in our cleverness. We had Valentine’s down!

One  year early in our marriage Dave was heading out of town Valentine’s morning, most likely to that same convention, and casually asked me if I still made the bed when he went out of town.

“Of course,” I told him.

“Have fun  making the bed,” he said as he kissed me and headed out the door.

I found a white-ribboned blue box that made me squeal with delight hidden in the tangled sheets. Inside was a silver necklace. Or maybe it was a bracelet earrings. To be honest I can’t remember. I used to get a lot of jewelry in blue boxes back in those days.

On Saturday night I posted this photo on Instagram and Facebook:

Valentines Dessert
Valentine’s In the suburbs

Our Valentine’s dessert after a dinner of sweet hot mustard chicken thighs (a recipe I’d been wanting to try that I knew Dave and I would like, but the kids wouldn’t), asparagus and roasted potatoes.

Please don’t assume that because I made something the kids wouldn’t like that we dined alone. I made their chicken plain and the four of us enjoyed a lovely dinner together.

After dinner we told the kids they had to watch a romantic comedy with us. We chose Music and Lyrics with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. As a lover of 80’s music (and former 80’s sort-of-groupie), it’s one of my favorites. Marley lasted three quarters of the way through before tapping out (that girl has no taste), but Chandler liked the movie and watched the all way through. He says he still can’t get the song Pop Goes My Heart out of his head.

It is pretty catchy in all of its fake-80’s fabulousness.

(By the way, if you’ve never seen Music and Lyrics you must first watch this spectacular video and then do whatever you have to do -cable, Netflix, your local library- to watch it. You will totally thank me because it’s awesome. So I will preemptively say, “You’re welcome!”)

 

I made a homemade Valentine with a printed someecards & taped it to a dark chocolate bar and stuck it under Dave’s pillow.

someecards Valentines Day
This was not his card, but it’s pretty appropriate for this post.

 

Yeah, I go all out. Dave said he thought we agreed that we weren’t doing Valentines this year. Uh… no. But perhaps after (almost) 21 years of marriage that agreement is implied. If I told you that his neglect of a forced Hallmark holiday hurt my feelings I’d be lying. In fact I’d have been shocked if he had done something. And now I get to eat the chocolate I gave him (conveniently the kind I like) without guilt.

Hmmm… a recipe I’ve been wanting to try, a good bottle of wine, one of  my favorite cheesy romantic comedies and  my husband’s dark chocolate all for me? Turns out I’m still pretty clever when it  comes to Valentine’s Day.