Christmas Came Early This Year

I was at another cross country meet early Saturday morning when my phone rang. It was my uncle asking what I was doing and what time I’d be home.

“That was weird,” I said to Dave after hanging up. “My Uncle John said he’s coming over this afternoon to bring us something.”

“What do you think it is?” he asked. My uncle lives about an hour away from us, so it had to be something that he really wanted to get rid of. Especially since we are going to his house for Thanksgiving in less than two weeks. (Ohmygod how is it possible that Thanksgiving is in less than two weeks?!)

“I have no idea. I hope it’s a car,” I joked. “Or maybe he won Lotto and is splitting up the money.”

“I don’t think it’s either of those things,” Dave said bringing me quickly back to reality and popping the Italian-villa-vacation, new-car, new-floors, new-windows Lotto-dream thought bubble that was forming inside my head.

“Are you sure?” I joked again. I really had no idea what my uncle could be bringing us. Maybe some old Coke bottles he found at a yard sale for Chandler’s collection. Or perhaps he and my aunt got a new bed and were bringing us their old mattress. He always joked that he was going to give me a lump of coal for Christmas. Maybe it was a really big lump. I was certainly intrigued.

I called Marley to tell her to please vacuum the den and make sure the bathroom was at the very least not gross. We clean our house on Sundays so by Monday morning Saturday it’s full red alert FEMA disaster status. People dropping in on a Saturday (without giving me at least 24 hours notice) and seeing my dog-haired, dusty, two-teenagers-live-here-and-I-work-full-time mess of a house is enough to make me break out in hives.

When my uncle got to the house he had me look in the back of his truck. I could not believe my eyes. It was not a mattress or old Coke bottles or even a really big lump of coal. It was unbelievable. It was a box for a 60 inch flat screen smart TV.

“You got us a TV?! Where did you get this? Did it fall off a truck?”

He laughed. “This is the box for my new TV,” he said. “I read on your blog that you still have a box TV so I thought you might like my old one. It’s a few years old, but it’s a 50 inch flat screen.”

Uh, yeah. I was at his house about a month ago watching football on his “old TV.” Let’s just say that it’s more than just a little bit better than watching football on the twenty-year old twenty-six inch box we have sitting inside our antiquated TV cabinet.

He and Dave carried in the TV, we did a bit of furniture rearranging (and behind the furniture ohmygod-I-can’t-believe-how-much-dog-hair-there-is-back-here vacuuming) and set up the TV that brings the Ross family into the 21st century. Mostly.

We are a bit tech un-savvy (I know, shocker!) and had a little trouble getting the TV to display a picture (which it turns out is kind of important), but I figured out the problem shortly after my uncle had to go. (Hint: it helps to attach the cable box to the cable cord coming out of your wall as well as to the TV.)

I can’t tell you how blown away Dave, Chandler, Marley and I are at my uncle’s generosity. (Even though it’s painfully obvious he was just trying to find a clever way to be mentioned in my blog.)

Dave was in heaven watching the final NASCAR race of the season. Football is a lot more exciting to watch on our new flat screen. The Walking Dead is a lot gorier. According to Dave and Chandler we never need to go to the movie theater again. I think having a houseful of teenagers for a movie/video game night is in our near future. We might even host a Superbowl party next year.

Thank you Uncle John. I love you.

And to anyone reading this who’d like to be mentioned in my blog -and who wouldn’t?!- have I mentioned we drive a 2000 Honda Civic and a 2003 Mercury Mountaineer? (I’m just sayin’….)

My So-Called Fabulous (Yet Unlived) Life

Throwback Thursday – This post was originally published on March 21, 2011 on skirt.com.

The other day as I looked at my pretty friend on the computer screen – tan and fit with her long blonde hair flowing down her back, I began to wonder about her life…and about mine.  Somewhere between high school and Facebook she moved from Los Angeles to Miami.  We were really only acquaintances in high school – I was better friends with her brother a year older than us – and now we are acquaintances through the world’s largest social network.  I see photos of her fabulous single life and she sees photos of my rather suburban one (if she even bothers to look).

In her photos she sits courtside at a Miami Heat game, drinks umbrella drinks on the beach, and wraps her arms around equally tan and fit singletons at bars and barbeques.  In my photos I’m trying my best to look cool mom funky rather than suburban mom frumpy.

At 45-years-old she still looks amazing in a bikini.  Of course that’s probably a lot easier to do when you are blessed with the combination of being born with good genes, never experiencing the wondrous body-changing magic of childbirth, and have nothing but time on your hands to go to the gym before heading out to the local pub to meet your latest conquest on Match.com face to face.

I wonder sometimes as I stare at her beautiful face smiling at me if she is as happy as she looks.  I consider myself happy in this life I’ve chosen for myself, but there are days when I trip over my husband’s shoes in the bedroom or get an aching back from doing eight loads of laundry on a Sunday that I wonder if I would be even happier if I had never married, if I had never had kids, if I had never given up my career to stay home with my children.  If I only had to be accountable to me…what would my life be like?

A few years ago, when my husband unwillingly went from the security of fulltime employment to get-it-when-you-can-find-it contract work, I took a job at an elementary school as an aide in special education so that I could give my family the extravagant gift of health insurance.  As an instructional assistant I have been bit, hit, kicked, pinched, spit at, peed on, and had my life threatened.  And sometimes I even get to clean up poop!  As an added bonus the pay is terrible.  Of course I do get summers off and every December and June parents shower me with Starbucks gift cards to thank me for my patience with their little darlings.

But if I didn’t have kids, where would 15 years in the career world have taken me?  I picture myself dressed in designer clothing checking my Blackberry as I tap my pedicured toes encased in $300 boots waiting for the valet to come with my Mercedes that only seats two so I can hurry from my business lunch to a very important meeting.  My “what if” wardrobe seems a bit more stylish than my usual attire of jeans and tone-up sneakers sadly worn for function rather than fashion so my heels don’t sink into the grass as I attend my kids’ soccer games or so I won’t trip as I race around town running errand after monotonous errand.

Speaking of monotonous, my husband and I have been married for seventeen years.  We’ve had our ups and downs, but all in all we have a happy marriage.  He is a good partner and a good friend; we are very compatible and I feel like I’ve chosen well.  Even during our toughest times the thought of divorce has never crossed my mind.

But what if we had never met?  If I had never walked down the aisle, would the rush of experiencing first date jitters be greater than the joy experienced from the comfort of a long marriage? Would I choose to experience firsthand the phenomenon of online dating instead of only experiencing it vicariously through my friends?  I am rather curious to know how many text exchanges with a man you’ve never met face to face it takes to get a photo of his penis in your inbox.  And like many of my still-single or again single friends, would I also have a nice, incurable dose of HPV?

I look at my suburban tract home in a neighborhood known for its good schools.  In my “what if” life I envision myself in my two bedroom condo in a much more urban part of town decorated Pottery Barn chic – no roses to dead head, no lawn to water or mow.  There are no socks on the floor, no Lego’s to be stepped on, no princess toothpaste smeared on the bathroom counter.  If the song “I Still Want You” were to play on the 80’s station of my satellite radio as I was cleaning my condo on a Saturday afternoon I’d probably think to myself, “Whatever happened to The Del Fuegos?” having no idea that front man Dan Zanes went on to be a Grammy Award winning children’s artist.

If I’d never had kids I would probably still think that Lindsey Lohan’s drug addiction and downward spiral is a terrible tragedy, but the true tragedy would be missing both her and Jamie Lee Curtis’ fantastic comedic performances in “Freaky Friday” because what kind of designer-boot-wearing, two-seat-Mercedes-driving, online-dating-still-hot-in-a-bikini-after-the-age-of-forty single girl sees a movie like that?

If I were single I wouldn’t have to share the covers in my bed, give up half my closet space, or watch NASCAR.  If I were childless I wouldn’t have to make sure there was always milk in the fridge, referee ridiculous arguments, or worry about how the hell I’m going to pay for college. (Shit. How the hell are we going to pay for college?)

I look at my friend’s pretty face one last time before clicking off my computer and joining my family for popcorn –crumbs of which I will inevitably have to vacuum off the floor tomorrow- and the latest episode of The Simpsons.  I snuggle with my daughter under the Snuggie she and her brother gave me for Mother’s Day last year and laugh a deep belly laugh as Bart tortures Homer.

If only my two lives were a Gwyneth Paltrow movie and I could watch them in parallel to see which path was better.  But the truth is I really don’t have to wonder.  I already know.

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