Odd years

“2016 bit the big one so 2017 has to be better.”

I recited this mantra incessantly towards the end of 2016 and the beginning days of 2017. It gave me some hope with the impending new year that all it would take was a flip of the calendar page and *TA-DA,* everything is better. I even subjected Ri to the mantra when she cried to me about her uneventful New Year’s Eve (while viewing all of her friends partying on Snapchat). New Year’s Eve occurred in 2016 so it’s gonna be wrapped up in the horrible mess of a year. 

But here we are, two weeks into the new year, and I haven’t found any revived spirit or amazing promise. Did I flip the calendar page too quickly or with not enough force to clearly show 2016 we wanted it out?

Last week, the kids agreed, without any fighting, to walk to Stauf’s with me for lunch. I asked, and they agreed. No pleading, begging, bribing. It wasan exquisite moment. We braced the 2o degree weather and walked up to the coffee shop with playing cards in tow. We even lucked out and got our favorite bar table and stools. Ri talked about becoming a pediatrician while Mario talked about packing it up and heading to Hollywood or Miami. The conversation was delightful. 

So there, 2016, take that! 

I am an impatient person; I want to see immediate change, feel immediately more hopeful, witness immediate kindness in the world. 2017 has been my wake-up call. It ain’t gonna happen. 

Slow and steady may need to be my new mantra. The world ain’t gonna be fixed (or destroyed, hopefully) overnight. I just gotta keep plugging away at being there for my crew – the kids, family, friends – and taking on causes and acts of kindness as time allows.  

My girlfriend told me the other day that odd years end up being better for her than even years. Interesting – I never looked at years in that fashion. But as I thought about it, I was born in an odd year as was Jon, Ri and Mario. We moved into our new home in an odd year. We got Rocco in an odd year. So there you go. 2017 is gonna be better than 2016 if only because it’s an odd year… I will take that immediate assumption and run with it.

Wonder Woman Saves the Week

This week felt like it lasted 30 days. My birthday on Monday created momentum for a perfect week but Tuesday quashed that momentum ten-fold. Work was intense and maddening with a score of phone calls every hour and fire-alarm situations. I didn’t get to vote in the morning so I was stressed all day about getting to the polls. I had this burning sensation that I would not get my vote casted in time and then NBC news would announce “Obama lost Ohio by one vote” and I’d be scarred for life.

Chalk another win up for women’s intuition. When I made it to the polls at 5:30 pm, I was excited to see only two people in line. The guy ahead of me shuffled back and forth and mumbled something to the poll worker. The worker shook his head sadly and stated “if your license is expired, you need a bank statement or utility bill.” I thought “what an idiot. How can you not check on your license before this big election?!”

And then I panicked. Hard. My birthday was November 5 – one day before the election. I was sure it had not expired this year – that would be crazy and unfair. I, not that guy in front of me, was extremely busy raising kids, working, volunteering, helping out Democrats, for goodness sake! If my license had expired, it should magically re-set to an expiration date of 2016 because that was only right.

I pulled out my license and there it was staring at me: Exp:2012. You got to be kidding me. I showed it to the worker just in case he thought it was still November 5 but I lost that one. I darted home to find a bank statement. I rummaged through garbage. I ripped out drawers. Nothing. Damn electronic banking.

Then my sitter saved me. “Fifth Third is open until 6:00 tonight”, he said matter-of-factly. Now that is cooperation and maturity. I believe him to be a Romney supporter yet he still coughed up those words that would allow me to possibly get in my vote. I high-fived him and the kids and sped to the bank. No line and a bank statement in three minutes. Thank the Lord. I got my vote in by 6:15 and all was good. But I crashed and burned when I got home from the furor of the day. Ri broke down a few hours later when we turned on the news to see the election status and I read from the tv “Romney 51% and Obama 49%.”

“My world won’t be safe, mom. Our world will never be the same if Obama loses.” Genuine fear and concern poured out of my bleeding heart liberal girl. I tried to clam her down but she sniffled herself to sleep.

She woke up at 6:15 begging to turn on the tv. She was ecstatic when she learned that Obama won. When Mario realized it was over and Obama prevailed, he switched sides and yelled “Yeah, Obama!” He is a fair-weathered fan making sure he always sides with the victor.

Jon had left for Illinois on Tuesday and caught that nasty flu going around. He got holed up in a hotel for two days and made it home Thursday with barely enough energy to make it up the stairs. Poor thing. I was going nuts by Friday morning and the kids could sense I needed an early morning run. We bundled up and Ri rode her bike while I strolled Mario. It was a glorious break from the car and the indoors where I had found myself all week.

Then, Mario dropped my iPad and it shattered. This week was not gonna give me a break.

I decided I needed to put my mind elsewhere and not go off on Mario; after all, I let him walk with it unprotected so I assumed some risk…. I went in the dining room and leafed through the mail. I had a little package from my sis! I had assumed it was for Jon as most packages are that come to our house. I ripped it open needing some type of sisterly goodness to get me in a better mood. And she did not disappoint.




Again, women’s intuition. Sar knew just what I needed with that magnet espousing power (then again, it’s a pretty sure-bet that after working, raising two kids, staying active, and volunteering all week such a magnet would be a boost for any mama).

The card’s words from Walt Whitman comforted me. I felt Sarah giving me a big Menkedick sister hug as I read Walt’s words and Sarah’s words in it. And then she topped the gift off with a photocopy of Ms. Magazine’s current issue cover. Yes, it’s Wonder Woman for all my 70’s gals who grew up watching. She got a subscription to Ms. magazine for me. I love it.

I took a step back from the table and looked at the pictures Sarah also sent of the kids and Jon at the farm. Jorge’s eye captured the kids’ joy and Jon’s manliness! I brushed my finger over them and smiled… wide and long.

It could have been worse

I get really annoyed with this season of politics. I rarely watch tv anyhow but I make sure I turn it off during this time of year. However, the kids still watch a show here or there in the evening or Saturday mornings. But that’s enough to pick up on the political ads.

The other day, we were all sitting around the table and I mentioned that Obama had visited Ohio State. The following diatribe ensued:

Mario: “I don’t like Obama because the man on tv said he lies.”
Maria: “Obama helps people who need it. He cares about others .”
Mario: “Mic (yes, he cannot understand that a man’s name is “Mitt”) Romney is going to win. Obama’s a loser.”
Maria: “Romney is the loser. All he cares about is getting rich.”

As my colleague said, “those commercials are geared for five year olds!” So it was a breath of fresh air to laugh at this clip on The Daily Show .

As I vote on election day, after having trudged through months of mud-slinging and posturing, I will remember “it could have been worse” (and Ri, I got your back!).