Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room

Our local high school has a no-smoking campus, which means no one – students, teachers, staff, visitors – is permitted to smoke in the building or anywhere on school grounds. When I sit in the carpool line after school to pick up my daughter, inevitably the same two students rush out of the building each day and scurry across the street to light up, no doubt suffering from severe nicotine deprivation.

The school, built in the 1950’s, is in the midst of a major renovation, so it’s not unusual to see the construction workers also hanging out across the street from the school, getting their nicotine fix. Oddly enough, some of the construction workers don’t cross the street to smoke. Instead, they head for one of the two port-a-potties that are sitting next to the construction area, on school grounds. These must be the very same guys who used to duck into the school bathroom to smoke, back when you could get away with that sort of thing. Once a rebel, always a rebel, I guess.

It wasn’t just the boys, of course. Rebel girls also used to duck into the school bathrooms to smoke. In my high school, a group of them used to sit on the floor of the bathroom, eating their lunches and smoking. Disgusting? Yes indeed.

Because of those young ladies, I avoided the school bathrooms at all costs. Each morning, I steeled myself for the bladder marathon ahead, holding it in for the entire school day until I could rush to the smoke-free haven of our very own pink-tiled bathroom at 3:15 p.m. I suspect there were many of us in the hold-it-all-day club, peeved at the rebel girls (pun intended) and yet envious of their empty bladders.

All of which brings me back to the construction workers. Dude, the port-a-potty? Have a little self-respect!



Well, I’m Not as Old as Barbie

When you’re young, your age is a big deal. It matters whether you are four versus four and three quarters. It matters when you transition from the single digit age of 9 to the double digit age of 10. Becoming a teenager is significant (especially for those who rake in big bar mitzvah bucks), as is turning the magic numbers that allow you to get a driver’s license, drink alcohol, vote and qualify as an official adult.

Once you pass 21, the milestones are fuzzier. Some people get rattled when they hit 30 or 40, but it never made much difference to me. I recall my mom celebrating her 36th birthday many times over (and, as far as I know, she may still be 36).  It felt weird when my sister turned 50, when my brother hit 40, and when my husband started getting mail from AARP, but really, what did any of that have to do with me?

But this week, I’m turning 50 and it’s going to take some getting used to. I don’t mind telling people I’m 50 and it doesn’t freak me out, but at the same time, it doesn’t feel authentic. Perhaps that’s why last night I dreamt that I was wearing my shoes on the wrong feet (and those shoes were seriously fugly too).

Does it matter that I’m 50? Nah – I’m neither embracing it nor fighting it, though for some slightly twisted reason I take a small measure of comfort in the fact that I am and always will be younger than Barbie, who just turned 53.

If you’re so inclined, I’d love it if you would celebrate with me by having a decadently yummy cupcake this week.

Happiness is a New Lampshade

At about 25 years old, our house is showing her age. Her kitchen tiles are cracked, she’ll soon need a new roof, and to say the master bathroom is cramped and dated is a woeful understatement (though sadly, it’s not sufficiently dated for me to pass it off as retro). We also suffer from some significant furniture deficiencies, from the huge blank living room wall that is crying out for bookshelves, to the hand-me-down furniture in our bedroom that I have literally hated for more than two decades. Oh, and I desperately want to have the kitchen and living room painted, and I could certainly argue that they NEED to be painted, but if I mention it one more time I fear my husband will have some sort of seizure.

What my house will soon look like.

With child #1 in college and child #2 waiting in the wings, we are reluctant to part with any serious moolah unless it’s an absolute necessity, thus I live vicariously through HGTV, hoping against hope that Candice Olsen will show up and take on my house pro bono.

I try to satisfy my home improvement itch in small ways. Last week, I moved an end table from one side of the couch to the other, which required the table lamp and the floor lamp to switch places. The lamps, which are older than my son, the college freshman, still had their original lampshades. Long ago, they were lovely shades, off-white and pleated, but for some time now they have been little more than dust receptacles and one of them is sort of misshapen from the time my son tossed a throw pillow across the room and knocked the lamp over.

It was time. Armed with a Pottery Barn gift card I got for Christmas, I went online and went shade shopping. I ordered. I waited.

Today, UPS delivered my new lampshades. I carefully removed the old shades so as not to create a blinding dust cloud, and placed the new ones on the lamps. They are simple, they are fresh, they are dust-free. I am ecstatic. And for now, my husband remains seizure-free, though sooner or later I’m just going to break down and call the painter.