Archive for the ‘The Best of Oak Hollow’ Category

Dear President-elect Obama,

First off, congrats on the big win! Historical moment there.  I stayed up and watched your victory speech and I must say you are an awesome speaker.  I can’t stand up in front of a class of ten people without stuttering and there you were in front of thousands, talking about change and how you’re going to get the girls a puppy when you move into the White House.

About that puppy.  I understand every president has to have a pet.  A presidential pet is a public relations gold mine.  Remember Millie?  That dog wrote a book.  And Socks the cat looked so cute whether he was perched on the official press conference podium or cradled in Chelsea’s arms.  Socks had some class.

Make no mistake, every breeder and kennel in the greater Chicago area is now hoping to be the one to supply the First Dog to the First Family.  Perhaps you’re thinking of a Golden Retriever. They’re good with kids, docile, but shed like a sonofabitch.  Unless you want Michelle chasing the dog around the White House with a Furminator, a breed with a wiry short coat like a Jack Russell would be ideal not to mention peppy.  Just imagine the photo ops as he bounces around Malia and Sasha on the White House lawn.

But really, why must it be a puppy?  I get that puppies are adorable with their squinty puppy eyes and short puppy noses, but they’re also a lot of work.  They pee and poo everywhere and chew without discretion.  In a house full of historical antique furniture, you’ll want to be especially vigilant and keep a good supply of Bitter Apple and rubber bones on hand.  With that in mind, I would suggest you stay true to your humble roots and adopt a seasoned rescue dog.  If you like that suggestion, I have the perfect dog for you.

Molly might have some issues, but I can guarantee you’ll not have a dull moment with her in the house.  She’s like a magician, that dog, and will keep you guessing long after you think you have her figured out.  Would you ever have imagined a dog could eat an entire container of Crisco?  Molly can.  Would you like to see whole loaves of bread and bags of hot dog buns disappear?  Molly can do that, too.  And if you’re looking to see cans of trash strewn up and down the West Wing, I have no doubt Molly will surpass your expectations.

As you can imagine, a dog that’s been known to eat dirty diapers can produce some pretty heinous gas.  No worries there because you’ll have all that space to put her out if need be.  Just be sure to lock the gate.  An unlocked gate means visits to the neighbors.  I’m sure you don’t want to waste the taxpayers’ money by sending the Secret Service out to look for a wayward hound trolling for garbage on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Molly is great with kids.  She’s patient and very attentive, especially during meal times.  If your girls are messy eaters, Molly will quickly become their best friend.  If not, you still won’t be without her during meals as she will stand stock still, stare at you drool onto the floor as you enjoy your dinner.  The kitchen staff will love her since she seems to be very interested in where the meals come from as well as where they’re going.  Seriously, you can’t get rid of that dog when there’s food on the stove.  Unless it’s bacon.  For some reason the sound of sizzling bacon scares her, though she’d eat a whole pound of it raw given the opportunity.

Finally, Molly is very receptive of guests.  She loves guests. Just try to keep her away from and off of the guests.  Some people consider the jumping bothersome.  I like to think of it as one more dimension of her delightful personality.  Not only will Dmitiry Medvedev leave the White House with scratches on his hands and legs, he’ll also leave with fond memories.

So Mr. Obama, President-elect, please consider this ringing endorsement of Molly’s character as my nomination for the position of First Mutt.  While her owners would miss her dearly, they are, first and foremost, patriots willing to make the sacrifice for their country.


Molly’s fed up exasperated loving family


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I broke down and called someone to service my dryer.  It’s a different someone than we called the last time and this guy comes highly recommended from no less than four people.  His name is Ron, which also happens to be the name of our wonderful mechanic.  If appliance Ron turns out to be as great as mechanic Ron, I will officially have a new respect for the name and discard any mental associations with Ron Jeremy or Ronald McDonald.

I was really hoping to take the Dutch way out with this dryer and not have to pay at all.  My parents and grandma each have a service plan through Michcon that brings a tech out to the house free of charge when things like this break.  My dad talked the plan up because they had problems with their washer twice this year and didn’t have to pay a thing.

I did eventually listen to my father and signed us up.  On Sunday.  Right after the dryer died.  I tried to figure how much time I should let lapse before calling them and saying, “Well gee wiz, would you look at that?  My dryer’s done gone and broke on me!”  Unfortunately, after reading the plan’s terms of service online, I figured there was no way my lies would be effective enough to pull my dyer out the “pre-existing condition” category.

So I called Ron’s and was asked what kind of dryer I have.  I should have expected this little bit of information would be needed, but I didn’t have it.  I did not know what brand of dryer I owned.  I knew it wasn’t the same brand as the washer but that it could be the same brand as the refrigerator.  I was a little embarrassed in admitting my ignorance and was told this information would be needed before the service call on Thursday.

I had to call Nathan and ask what brand of dryer we own.  He knew because he had been looking up ways he might be able to fix it.  I really didn’t like admitting I didn’t know, not because I’m a woman and the one who washes the clothes, which I am, but because I’m a woman and am supposed to know everything, which I sort of do.

I’ll concede to not being a genius.  I don’t have a ton of common sense sometimes and, even though I’m a grad student studying English literature, will visit Merriam-Webster online just to make sure I’m using a word like “concede” correctly.

I like to think that women know it all.  We are the ones who keep the world together.  We get our loved ones ready in the morning.  We know the numbers to the daycare provider and the pediatrician by heart.  We know who likes peanut butter and jelly, who likes bologna and the name of junior’s hockey coach.  We can read people well.  We interpret body language and can tell a good egg from a bad one.  We’re not perfect, but we’re perfectly comfortable with putting a hell of a lot of trust in our intuition.  If something feels right, it’s probably all right.

It’s getting late and I was going to turn this post into something insightful about suffrage and voting and how we (meaning we women) have only been able to get out and vote for 88 years and how all that insightfulness and wisdom went to waste for so long.  My great grandma Mahoney turned eighteen four days after the presidential election in 1920.  I have no idea what the legal voting age was in Michigan at that time, but if it was eighteen I’d like to think she was upset about missing it.  The woman got married at fourteen by lying about her age on her marriage license, but she probably couldn’t lie to the federal government.

So anyway, I voted yesterday.  I set my alarm and got out the door an hour early because I could.  There were lots of people there hoping to cast their ballots before work.  Some had their children with them and I overheard one parent say to her daughter, “When you’re eighteen you can come here and vote.”

Please note she did not say, “When you’re grown up, make sure you know the brand names of all your major appliances.”

It’s a Whirlpool, by the way.  Just so you know.

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Super spy

I’ve been setting my alarm for 5:30 am in an attempt at getting to work on time.  What has actually been happening is that I hit the snooze button for an hour and still wind up plopping my butt down at my desk the usual 2-3 minutes past 8:00.

What amazes me about the snooze time is that so much can happen in those magical nine minutes before the alarm goes off again.  I can actually get back into a deep sleep and let my imagination run amok.  In just nine minutes, I somehow manage to insert myself into a number of wacky scenarios in which I would never find myself during waking hours.

Just this morning I had a short dream in which I was a spy.  I had a rendezvous with Sydney Bristow from “Alias” and she was a bit miffed with me for being late (obviously a little real life inserting itself here).  She asked me to follow her into a building and of course we didn’t use doors or stairs because no one on “Alias” enters a building in a conventional way.  Sydney leaped through an open window and I stared in horror as she fell several stories before a harness, which I didn’t even realize she was wearing, caught her fall.

She somehow managed to return the harness to me, and as I looked at it I realized what she was asking me to do.  “Um, yeah.  You wouldn’t happen to know the tensile strength of this thing, would you?” I asked.

It would seem that I can’t even have a fun dream without bringing my baggage along for the ride.  Or maybe being fat is such a part of my identity now that it’s impossible for me to imagine myself in any other way.  Whatever the case, you won’t see me donning a leather catsuit and red wig anytime soon.

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Saturday night Nathan and I found ourselves shoe shopping at our local supermarket.  Our first stop had been to the New Balance store, but they closed early and wouldn’t be open again until 10:00 this morning.  That didn’t work for us since we’re currently on our way to Mackinac Island so we wound up buying shoes and groceries in one shot.

I was in women’s shoes and Nathan was a few aisles down when I heard him talking to someone.  A few moments later he came around the corner to tell me he just ran into a guy he worked with years ago, a guy who had actually been one of the groomsman in our wedding.  A guy we haven’t seen since the reception.

“What was his name?” asked Nathan.

“Wasn’t it Jeff?” I offered.

Nathan shook his head.  “No, I think it was Todd.”  A couple of minutes later Jeff/Todd passed the aisle and Nathan pointed him out.  He looked nothing like I remembered him.  On our wedding day he was a skinny kid with shaggy blonde hair.  This guy had a flat top and was at least 50 pounds heavier, leading me to wonder if Nathan actually had the right guy.

We eventually ran into him again in the dairy section and I was introduced to his wife and son.  I’m usually okay with asking someone their name if I’ve forgotten it after the initial introduction and that introduction happened just minutes before, but I wasn’t about to ask Jeff/Todd his name, especially after the mention to his wife about standing up at our wedding.

I remembered his mother and his mother’s name and asked about her, hoping the inquiry would make it seem like we also remembered his.  He said she was great and still with the company.  “She’s a lifer,” he said.

We parted ways and Nathan and I continued to search our memories for the lost name.

“It was Jeff,” I said

“No it wasn’t.  It was Todd.  Remember there were two Todds.  Good Todd and evil Todd.”

“You’re wrong,” I said.  “I don’t remember any Todd, good or evil.  It was Jeff. I know it was Jeff.”

We went around and around like this until we got home and as soon as I walked through the door I went searching for the scrapbook that held a copy of our wedding program.  I couldn’t find it, Nathan couldn’t find it and we were left wondering who was right and who was wrong.

About an hour later we were sitting in front of the TV watching a silly episode of “iCarly” with Autumn when the name just popped into my head.  It wasn’t Jeff or Todd.

“Greg!  His name was Greg.”

“Greg!  Yeah, that’s it,” said Nathan.

So how bad is that, not remembering the name of a guy who was in our wedding party?  You now see why we have a very small social circle.

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Last night my parents picked Autumn up from daycare and treated her to dinner out at Perkins. “Better you than us,” I said, thinking of our last dinner out with the girl. Our evening was a little more relaxing and as a result we decided on a short stop at the ice cream parlor before picking her up (I know, bad parents!).

The ice cream shop is a little walk-up joint with picnic tables housed under a covered patio. The place was crowded so Nathan and I decided to sit in the car with our cones. We had only been sitting there a few minutes when Bike Guy showed up. Bike Guy is someone we’ve seen around town on several occasions. Although it’s never been confirmed, we think he might be a little mentally challenged. Aside from riding his bike everywhere, he’s always wearing a set of headphones and singing at the top of his lungs.

Bike Guy stopped in front of the patio and parked his bike on the kickstand. He had his CD player in hand, headphones on his head and was singing very loudly. We’d been sitting in the car with the windows up and I asked Nathan to turn the key in the ignition so we could power the windows down. It was getting a little hot, but what I really wanted was to be able to hear this guy sing. He’s really not that bad.

Bike Guy just stood there by his bike and sang. Once in awhile he’d throw in a little dance move like a spin or some modest footwork. I watched him and watched the folks on the patio sort of pretend he wasn’t there. A family of five finished their ice cream and started filling into the van parked next to us. As he was loading his kids into their seats, I heard the dad say, “Don’t stare,” in regards to Bike Guy and his impromptu show.

I turned to Nathan. “I think that’s wrong, saying ‘Don’t stare.’ If that guy didn’t want people to stare he wouldn’t be standing there singing his heart out. He wants an audience.” The dad’s statement irritated me because it implied there was something shameful in Bike Guy’s behavior, when in fact Bike Guy was a lot more liberated than the folks sitting on the patio.

As I sat in the car with my ice cream, I started wondering what it was like to be Bike Guy. Why doesn’t he give up the CD player and just go with an iPod? What would he do if he was presented with an iPod? Would it rock his world or would it threaten his sense of security? Obviously that CD player is very important to him because I never see him without it.

Nathan turned on the ignition and pulled out of the parking lot to get gas at the Mobil station next door. As I sat at the pump waiting for Nathan to fill up, I could still hear Bike Guy singing to the patrons on the patio. I probably won’t be buying him an iPod, but I sure as hell will be applauding for him next time he sings for me.

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Last month Nathan and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary. You might recall my mention of how he had left me home with Autumn to go golfing with his dad. I was cool with that because he rarely goes golfing anymore.

That particular day it took me awhile to get dressed. Sometimes I just do that. I really like that yellow robe of mine and will wear it for a good part of the morning before finally deciding to put some clothes on. I tend to do the same thing with Autumn. If she’s happy walking around in just a diaper or underpants and we don’t have to go anywhere, then I’m happy to let her walk around in just a diaper or underpants. It’s much easier than having to hear “Mommy, please take my shirt off” every five minutes.

About noon the doorbell rang. Molly went nuts and started barking. My first instinct was to ignore whoever might be calling. As groovy as I think that yellow robe is, I had no desire to greet anyone while wearing it. However, I also didn’t want to appear rude in case Nathan had left the garage door open and the person calling knew I was home and just not answering.

I peeked out my front window and saw my grandmother standing on my front porch. My grandmother who cooked Mother’s Day dinner this year and who is the last person on earth I’d want to see me still dressed in my yellow robe at noon on a Saturday. I really didn’t want to open that door, but if my grandmother got even a whiff of my presence and knew I had ignored her, I would never hear the end of it. Answer the door? Don’t answer the door? Either way I was screwed.

As I was contemplating both scenarios, my grandmother turned around and started walking back towards her car. Before I could help myself I called out to her. “Grandma, wait!” She turned around and looked up at me through the window. “I have something for you,” she said and waived a card at me.

After I had shoved Molly out the back, I drew in a breath and descended the stairs to my front door. There stood my grandma, all fresh and ready for the day that was nearly half over. She handed me a card and wished me a happy anniversary. She said nothing about the robe or about how long it had taken me to answer the door. I asked her to come inside, but she hates the stairs in my house and declined, which thank God she did because my kitchen was a mess.

It was at this point, the point where I thought I was in the clear and had suffered only a moderate level of embarrassment, that my daughter decided to appear buck naked at the top of the stairs. “Oh my!” said my grandma. “What do we have here?”

I could feel the heat rising to my face. “Oh God, she must have pulled her diaper off,” I said. “She just loves running around naked.” I tried to downplay the whole thing and give my grandma the impression that nudity is a way of life here at The Hollow, but there was no denying this didn’t make me look good, what with Autumn displaying all that God had given her and looking very Clan of the Cave Bear with her straggly hair falling in her face.

My grandma seemed to find the whole thing amusing and gave Autumn a friendly little wave before saying her goodbyes. It wasn’t until my parents visited the next day that I found out what she really thought. At some point the subject of her visit came up and my dad said, “Yeah, she thought she might have woken you up.”

“At noon? Is she crazy? I can’t remember the last time I slept until noon.”

“That’s what I told her,” said my dad. “I said, ‘I don’t think Autumn lets them sleep in like that.'”

So now I know my grandmother is passing on the word that I sleep late and let my child run around naked, because that part of it was not left out when she told my dad about her visit. I’m sure some of my grandma’s friends and acquaintances also know of my indiscretions, and if they don’t know, they will because my grandma is a master at passing on that kind of information. You could be talking to her about something totally unrelated to bad parenting and she’ll just pop the story in because it has to be told.

So internet, before my grandmother gets to you, let me clarify something; yes, I do let my kid run around sans clothes but I DO NOT SLEEP IN. I could not sleep until noon even if I wanted to sleep in until noon. Even if I didn’t have a kid, I would not sleep in until noon because I am not a nineteen year-old unemployed male who stays up until 4:00 a.m. playing World of Warcraft.

I’ll go even a step further and let you know that yesterday neither one of us got fully dressed. Nathan had the flu and the child wrangling fell on me, as did the laundry, the grocery list making and the meals. Not all of my tasks were completed in full, and getting dressed was one of those tasks. We weren’t naked by any means. We were just comfortable.

Still, you might want to call before visiting. Consider yourself warned.

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The true art of memory is the art of attention.
Samuel Johnson

A few months ago when I heard Jeannette Walls speak at the university, one of the questions she answered during the Q & A afterwards was, “Is your memory really that good?” If you’ve read her book The Glass Castle, you’ll understand why that question was asked because Walls wrote an incredibly detailed account of her childhood. Walls’ response was yes, she does have an excellent memory, although she did admit she probably used a little artistic license when writing the dialogue between herself and other family members.

I have a pretty good memory, but I didn’t think I had a superior memory until I heard back from that former boyfriend now band director I e-mailed last week. He was quick, I’ll give him that. He e-mailed me back the next day, but his e-mail was very, very cordial. It was the kind of cordial reserved for crazy folk and those you avoid when you see them coming your way at the grocery store. I’m sure in his book I fit into both of those categories.

The thing that bothered me most about his reply, other than it was written as though I was the mother of one of his students, was that he started out by admitting it “took him a couple of seconds” to remember me.

What the hell? Okay, I get that I blind-sided him a little bit by e-mailing him out of the blue, but we were friends. We were good friends before we ever started dating and making out in his bedroom in various states of undress. I also understand that maybe I’ve been indulging in a little too much Romy and Michelle sentimentality lately and should just stop e-mailing people I haven’t spoken to since high school.

But still, you don’t tell someone YOU DATED that it took time for them to hop back into your memory, even if it only took “a couple of seconds.” I don’t care who you are. That’s a huge ego killer.

That I’m still thinking about this days later indicates how much it bothered me. I finally decided to ask Nathan the crucial question that has been on my mind since receiving the band director’s reply.

“If you saw a girl’s boobs in high school, do you think you’d remember the girl or just the boobs?”

“I don’t think I ever saw a girl’s boobs when I was in high school,” he said.

I sighed. “Well say you had, do you think you’d remember the boobs or the girl’s name?”

“I’d remember yours,” he said and reached for the hem of my t-shirt.

Right. My fault for expecting a serious answer to a question about boobs.

While this band director doesn’t know it, he inadvertently poured salt into an open wound. It would seem that being utterly forgettable is my “thing.” It’s not a thing I’ve accepted like prematurely graying hair or having to go to the bathroom every time I’m in Target. Being forgotten is my Achilles heel, my kryptonite and the one thing guaranteed to send me to the freezer section of my local market for some Ben and Jerry’s. It has happened enough that I was quite sure Terri was going to stand me up at Panera Bread last week and I hate that a mature, intelligent woman like myself is reduced to such childish, hormonal bouts of insecurity.

I think I’m too sensitive. Okay, I know I’m too sensitive, but I also know that I pay attention. I’m a writer. That’s what I do. As writers, we train ourselves to pay attention and remember things; things that mean nothing and things that mean everything, and as bloggers we put it all out here for the world to see. Maybe that’s why I keep doing this. Maybe I’m afraid that if I stop putting little bits of myself out here I’ll disappear completely and be forgotten by more than just the band director.

I probably shouldn’t be so hard on the guy. I certainly haven’t forgotten who I was dating twenty years ago, but men do not pay attention. That much I have learned in eleven years of marriage, so maybe his slight was an honest admission and nothing more. But would it have killed him to have left that part out? The part about having to work to remember me? Nobody really wants to know being remembered took some time. That just means being forgotten was pretty easy.

Maybe I should have attached a picture of my chest. It might have only taken him a second to remember me then.

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