No Six Strings Attached

A few months back, I introduced you to Ronit, the LA lady, who is part of my writer’s group. Ronit, wrote about an airplane trip she took with five children (three of which were her own). The children were very well behaved. Unfortunately, some of the other passengers were not. (http://larrydbernstein.com/no-fear-of-flying/)

Ronit is currently a stay at home mom in New Jersey, who previously toiled as a television producer. She is also now a blogger. After you read this guest post, check out her new blog and welcome her to the blogosphere at http://nitstyl.wordpress.com

Every few weeks or so when I come to the realization that the time has come to clean my room, I glance over in the corner only to find a guitar with a broken string limply hanging from its instrument.  And it is then that I am reminded of the brazen stupidity that brought me to this moment yet again.

A few years ago something possessed me upon discovering some extra cash in the cookie crumb littered depths of my fake Louis V.   Instead of purchasing a pair of really cute and very practical ballet flats, I blew the windfall on the way more impractical purchase of a guitar – a musical instrument I never even played.

Courtesy of Flickr

Courtesy of Flickr

What possessed me to make this purchase in the first place?  It might have been the fantastic notion that I was going to parlay my guitar playing into a satisfying and enriching musical career.  Laugh all you want but it’s my fantasy, and in it, I get to be a rock star.  Besides given the gaping hole in my resume, my prospects for a real job were just as realistic as musical stardom.

I arrived home and shlepped this six-stringed piece of potential firewood, with toddler in tow. It was then that I began to realize just how hard it was going to be to learn how to play this imposing instrument. I refused to attribute this to age.  And here’s why:   You see, I, the multi-tasker-hunter-gatherer have observed many intoxicated individual and/or drug-dependant individuals play this instrument masterfully.  Some of these axe grinders are so skillful that their artistry belies the fact that they can hardly recall their own names.  So, my logic went, if they can do it, then so can I.

But at the time of purchase I also failed to recall that my previous forays into musical mastery did not exactly culminate in my becoming a classically trained…anything.

It began (and ended) with Mrs. Taylor, my aged piano teacher who was so old school… like School of Athens.   In fact, I’m pretty sure that she and Mozart were “friends with benefits.”  Mrs. Taylor was about as inspiring as lint. She had me learn pieces that were as antiquated as she was.   Her philosophy was you cannot play the newer material until you’ve mastered the classics.  Surprisingly my inability to master her assigned pieces didn’t cause her to keel over on our newly painted white upright.

She lasted less than a year at which time she quit on us one day because my mother and I were late to my lesson after driving home from a matinee of Cabaret.  What can I say. The inimitable Joel Grey was the headliner.

After that our piano became nothing more than a place to display our ill-coiffed family photos.

Anyway, I immediately set out on my newest musical endeavor.  I whipped out my guitar picks opened the book that came with it and set out on my musical adventure. And that’s precisely when I realized I should have stuck with the shoes.

As children often like to whine…it’s haaaaard!  And it was.  For me.

I think my brain hit its quota in the “acquiring new skills” category.  I am still trying very hard to convince myself that age was and is not a factor.  After all, I can cook a soup, dress a child and wash the dishes simultaneously.  So why was mastering the finger work of the chords so monumentally exasperating for a woman like me.

Alas, sooner rather than later, the guitar came to be parked in my husband’s closet and left my closet with a shoe vacancy.  My attempts at late in life rock star notoriety seemed wholly misguided and derailed.

And now as I sit back and look around at the clothes and papers strewn around this ill-gotten purchase, I can honestly say I could kick myself with those ballet flats, if only I had had the good sense to have bought them in the first place.

The Electric Bill That Ate My Budget

Remember how excited you were when you moved into your first house? Everything is new and exciting. How are you going to lay it out? Isn’t it great to have more space?  What memories will you make?

Then, there was the inevitable first repair. After an exhaustive search, you find the right plumber, electrician, or handyman to fix the blemish on what has become your home.  Between the time the repairman comes and he gives you the estimate, you pray – “please don’t let it be a big expense, please don’t let it be a big expense, please don’t let it be a big expense.” Then you get the estimate and either you are left relieved or muttering.

Either way, residential innocence has been lost. You now know that the house is not only a place to raise your family, have bbq’s with friends, and watch Modern Family in but is also a place that can drain all your money. Yes knowledge is power, but it can also cause fear.

Well, I am over my residential fear. Sort of, kind of. Actually, the fear is now way back in my mind and no longer overwhelming.

Unfortunately something else has taken its place.

It’s been hot in my part of the world (and many others from what I have noticed). Really hot. Hot like take off all your clothes and still hot, hot like I see the lawn browning before my eyes hot, hot like please don’t make me go out there hot.

Now, empty houses have their noises. There is the hum of the refrigerator, the ticking of a clock, the rattle of a window. And depending on the season, there are the sounds of the air conditioning or heating system.

When the central air kicks in at my house, it sounds like a gentle blowing. It is quite pleasant and those of us who are in the house are made to feel comfortable. It’s actually a beautiful thing. Very fortuitous that we live in the times of air conditioning – wouldn’t you say?

These days my air conditioner is running practically non-stop. And the noise no longer sounds like a gentle blowing. No, no, no. It sounds like Darth Vader’s harsh breathing. It sounds like a powerful vacuum cleaner sucking up everything in its path.

Image courtesy of Flicker

Image courtesy of Flicker

One of those things it is sucking up is my budget. Each Darth Vader-like breath of the central air leaves me ever more fearful of the electricity bill.  Will the massive bill forced my family and I to go on a pasta-only diet for the rest of the month?

I am going to extreme measures to combat this. I walk around my house looking for electricity to turn off like a traffic cop handing out tickets in New York City. Every light, television, and computer is turned off immediately as I silently (or not so silently) curse the family member who is guilty of this horrendous offense.

The beast that is eating my budget!

The beast that is eating my budget!

I sit and wait for the heat wave to pass and for the next PSE&G bill to arrive. I won’t underestimate the power of the dark side. May the force be with me.

P.S. Please, does anyone have any reasonable electricity saving ideas?

Everybody Get On!

Grab your ticket and your suitcase
Thunder’s rolling down this track
Well you don’t know where you’re goin’ now
But you know you won’t be back
Well darlin’ if you’re weary
Lay your head upon my chest
We’ll take what we can carry
Ya, and we’ll leave behind the rest

Well, big wheels rolling through fields
Where sunlight streams
Meet me in a land of hope and dreams

Well I will provide for you
Ya and I’ll stand by your side
You’ll need a good companion now
For this part of your ride
Ya leave behind your sorrows
Ya this day at last
Well tomorrow there’ll be sunshine
And all this darkness past

Well, big wheels rolling through fields
Where sunlight streams
Oh meet me in a land of hope and dreams

Well this train
Carries saints and sinners
This train
Carries losers and winners
This train
Carries whores and gamblers
This train
Carries lost souls

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – LAND OF HOPE & DREAMS LYRICS

Bruce amongst his fans. Courtesy of Google.com

Bruce amongst his fans.
Courtesy of Google.com

Bruce’s first album, Greetings From Asbury Park, came out 40 years ago. He often speaks of his career and his music as if on a journey. The fans are on board this mythical journey and as you can see all are welcome on the trail.

Sunday, July 14th – yes I know it’s Bastille Day – marked the second anniversary of MeMyselfandKids. Like my musical hero, Bruce Springsteen, I’d like to think of my blog as a perpetual work in progress. It moves forward as my family and I grow, as new experiences are experienced, and new thoughts are thought.

So, let me reintroduce yourself. I am your conductor and I welcome you – all of you – on this journey.

Before we move forward, I would like to take a look back.

I was sitting alone in my kitchen sweating. I proof-read my first post for what may have been the 8th time. I was sure a typo would ruin everything and convince everyone I could not write (still hate typos and grammatical errors, I now realize they are not the end of the world.) My first post was not the typical here I am, this is why I am writing sort of thing. Instead the post  (http://larrydbernstein.com/room-for-debate/) was about the big news of the day in New York City – the murder of a young boy.  It disturbed me greatly and I wanted to share my thoughts on the incident.

As I mentioned in a recent post (http://larrydbernstein.com/bloggers-wanted/), I was what one might describe as a poor blogger for months. Yes, I posted regularly. However, I made no efforts to read other people’s work. I also got few if any likes and comments. I was dejected.

What was the point of struggling to keep a blog? Writing for the sake of writing was no longer enough. I wanted readers and feedback and exchange.

After getting and acting upon some advice (thanks JG), I embarked upon a growth initiative (sounds like an institution trying to raise funds/publicity/membership).  The blog grew, feedback arrived, and blogging became fun.

Courtesy of Google.com

Courtesy of Google.com

Another turning point for MMK occurred last Summer. Last Summer I had my first guest posts (Nancy from Life Takes Over Nate from INSANITY OF MOTHERHOOD and Mary from ateachablemom). Having guests was a great experience! My guests inspired me and made the blogging world seem more vibrant. These were not people who existed a couple of times a week in 500 word chunks. They were people with worries and joys similar to mine.

I have gone on to have many guests and hope to have many more. I am happy to say that a number of my guests have become email pals.

I’d like to end with a quote from Nancy over at Shoes On The Wrong Feet. Her blog also just turned two. “It is interesting to see the blogs that come and go in my little circle.  I often wonder about the ones who were so active, and I felt such a connection with that abruptly stopped blogging or the ones that faded off over time.”

As I strive to keep MMK vibrant, to make you laugh, think, grow and wonder, I hope that you will ride along with me (and invited your friends!). All aboard!

P.S. Do you have a favorite post? I would love to hear about it from all of you – including the lurkers.

HIGHEST COMMENTED POSTS
http://larrydbernstein.com/slow-it-down/
http://larrydbernstein.com/do-shirts-count/
http://larrydbernstein.com/gross-read-with-caution/

Don’t Cry Over Spilled Soy Sauce: A tip for getting through the dating jungle

My guest today is Martin Perlin, a longtime lurker here at MeMyselfandKids. He came out of the shadows and lo and behold – the guy can write. Thanks for stepping up Martin.

Martin, originally from Seattle, Washington, is a husband and father of three living his dream in Raanana, Israel. Martin works in marketing. To clear his head and make sense of the world, he enjoys creative writing, building websites, and blogs on a number of different subjects. You can find his website at www.martinperlin.com and view his blog at noregrets.martinperlin.com

"Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net"

“Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”

I have a friend that would really like to get married. He’s over 30 and has had little dating experience. My friend decided he needed to get feedback on how to act on a date. So, he published an ad offering to take a woman out for dinner and pay for her transportation in exchange for her impressions on how he should act on a date. Someone answered his ad, and they arranged to meet at a restaurant. Unfortunately, the restaurant had closed down a few years before. This just goes to show how long he’d been out of the field. Anyway, he found another restaurant to take his date.

When I started my own dating process, I didn’t think that I would have to sift through dates with over 90 women to find my wife. I thought the process could be streamlined, and made efficient. I looked for ways to perfect the impression that I made. I had dating down to a science, with a thorough cheklist: Shower, shave, brush teeth, floss, mouthwash, deoderant, aftershave, ironshirt, comb hair, zip fly shut, wash car, vaccuum car, choose car music, and get cash. I carefully considered the venue, trying to keep a variety of options available, so as not to repeatedly end up at the same café.  I didn’t want the wait staff to recognize me. Well, I repeated this routine for nearly 9 years in what became a regiment of dating, like suiting up for a military drill.

By the time I met my wife, I was really tired of dating, and had to muster up enthusiasm to meet yet another girl. I stopped thinking about my checklist items and didn’t worry so much about the impression I was making. No, I didn’t let myself slide into a slovenly heap – unshaven, not showered, with a wrinkled shirt – but I just went with the flow.

On my first date with the woman that is now my wife of eleven years, I didn’t even check if I had enough cash. As chance would have it, the beach front cafe where we sat to talk didn’t take credit cards for small purchases (we only had two drinks).  Without even breaking a sweat, I offered to wash dishes at the cafe to pay off my bill. My date tried looking on in good humor, but was consumed by embarrassment. I dug through my wallet and pulled out every spare piece of change I could find. In the end, I found enough small change to pay, and we left. Although my wife would tell you now that she was a bit skeptical of me, she was actually impressed at how I took a seemingly natural approach to this situation, lacking any shame at being unconventional.

Following up after his date, my friend related to me how it went saying “I should have been more careful with the soy sauce and not spilled it on my shirt.”

Overall the date went well, and the girl was pleasant and seemed to enjoy the time she spent with him. She only noted to him that taking leftovers from dinner to give to a homeless guy might not come across well with most girls he meets, and that he should check to make sure that the restaurant they meet at is still opened.

I wanted to tell my friend that he shouldn’t be so hard on himself, and not go into ‘dating training’ like he is climbing the corporate ladder. It’s not a job interview where you have 20 minutes and a resume to try and convince someone that you are the best person for the job. I wanted to let him know that just as I have valued him as friend over the years, that he really has a lot to offer a special woman. He probably doesn’t even realize that his clumsiness and ability to end up in comic situations holds charm and makes him endearing. If you want to appear to be someone else for your date, then you should actually become someone else completely. I’ve learned from dating that the most important thing is that being yourself can make the best impression of all.

So in conclusion, you should know, don’t cry over spilled soy sauce.