Wednesday, April 28, 2010


This is a long one, friends. It's been stewing for a few days now and while I thought of breaking it down into multiple posts, I am a big advocate of shorter posts, it didn't feel right and I opted to post it in full today. Indulge me this lengthy introspection.

We're packing up our cars after a day at the zoo. We're there with my friend Katie and her son and infant daughter. The sun is shining down on us through the trees and there is a cool breeze. Katie and I laugh and talk as we load up our cars. I lay out the changing pad in the back under the gate of my SUV so I can change Sophie's diaper. I'm about halfway through changing her when Katie finishes up and with a wave and a goodbye drives off.

As she's pulling away, I notice a man walking toward us. He's still a fair distance away, but I get an unpleasant frisson as I realize that we are in a somewhat secluded spot. The crowd of cars in the parking lot this morning has now thinned out and I become aware of how isolated we are. The man is alone and dressed in a manner that is incongruous with someone out for a walk. The memories, never far from the surface, erupt, and I go cold.


We're walking back from dinner at my favorite Tex-Mex restaurant. I am with one of my closest friends, someone I don't see nearly as often now that I have started at a new job. It is a short walk on this warm summer evening from the restaurant in the waterfront Canton area of Baltimore. As we get close to her house, we decide to stop in at the restaurant across the street to see her boyfriend who bartends there.

I look around and see a man come around the corner behind us. He is wearing a dark sweatshirt with the hood up. Its a strange thing for such a warm night and the hairs stand up on the back of my neck, but I look around and am comforted by the bright streetlights and the sight of other people walking on the street. Just as we step off the curb to cross the street, the man runs up along side my friend and grabs her purse. She instinctively pulls it in to herself and he whips around so that he is facing us as we stop short. His left hand is still on her purse as his right comes up revealing a handgun.

The gun is big and black and I have never known fear like I do in that moment as a man points it at my chest from less than four feet away. My friend releases her purse and he yanks it to himself, demanding my bag as he does so. As I hand it over, I tap into some hidden well of courage, or stupidity, and ask if I can just get my keys out of it first.

He looks at me for a long dark moment, gun pointed squarely at my heart, and says with soft, deliberate slowness: "You think I'm fucking kidding? RUN." And I do.

I run like my life depends on it. Because it just might. I don't look to see where my friend is, too lost in my own self-preservative flight. I run to the restaurant across the street and throw open the door. Breathless, I all but shout "I just got mugged!" My friend appears next to me and people crowd around us, asking if we're okay.

We are.



The man is getting closer. Close enough now that I can make out his features. I grow more panicky with each of his steps. My heart races. I calculate his distance and what it will take to get Sophie and myself safely into the car before he reaches us. I'm nearly panting. There just isn't time to get her dressed, so I scoop her up in only her top and a diaper, slamming the gate closed and racing around the car. I get her buckled up and see the man through the windows. He is no more than 25 feet away now. He is on the drivers side. Can I make it in time? I don't wast time to think, I just rush around and leap into the car, locking the doors the moment I have mine closed.

I am shaking so hard I can barely hold on to the keys as I shove them in the ignition. I twist my head side to side, frantically looking around for him. I can't see him, but surely he has reached us by now. Sophie is howling in the back seat. Where is he?! I still can't find him. Has he snuck up alongside the car? My heart is pounding in my ears like a jackhammer. Is he going to pop up at my window, a gun or knife in hand, and demand my purse or my car? Or worse?

But then I spot him. He is now past us by a few dozen yards. His gait hasn't changed and he doesn't look back. I slump down, hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel, and close my eyes as I rest my head on the knuckles of my left hand. The entire event took place over the course of maybe 3 minutes. 180 seconds. An eternity.

I watch him walk further away and decide we are safe enough that I can get Sophie back out and put the rest of her clothes on. But I am vigilant. I watch and listen for him or any other would-be assailant. I am still so geared up that each rustle of the leaves is a monster waiting to pounce. I get Sophie dressed and buckled back in as calmly as I can and we are on our way.

Its been a busy day and we are out well into Sophie's nap time, so it is not surprising that she falls asleep within minutes. I have the radio on, but I'm not really listening to it. I look back at my sleeping daughter and replay what just happened and I reflect on that night eight years ago.


We were lucky. Muggings turn ugly every day. I personally knew a young man who was fatally stabbed just a year before my own unfortunate experience when he tried to stop a man who was mugging an elderly woman.

But although we were both physically unharmed, we are not undamaged. A sense of security is a translucently thin china teacup. So fragile and so easily broken. The putting back together is a long, delicate process and while it can be done, it will never be the same. There will always be weak spots that are susceptible when pressure is applied.

Sometimes weeks will go by that I don't think about that night. I don't think about the barrel of that gun and how close it was to my chest. I don't think about his cold voice. Or that in my fear and cowardice I ran off, leaving my friend. That she was fine is all that saves me from horrific guilt. But the memory of that entire experience is burned into me. Those fears found a home and I am a hair trigger away from total recall.

I hate that I am so paranoid. That I really don't feel safe anywhere. But if there is a silver lining, it is that I listen to my gut now. If my hair stands up, I act. I don't wait for the situation to become dire and I don't worry about offending anyone. There is every likelihood that the man we encountered at the zoo was just a fellow out for an afternoon walk, but what if? What if he wasn't? What if he had awful, horrible plans for me or my child? We'll never know.

And I'm okay with that.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Table Topics Tuesday: Inked

When I was in college I contemplated getting a tattoo. I wanted three dolphins, circling tail to nose, on my lower back. I honestly can't say now exactly what it was that stopped me. I had many friends who had or were getting tattoos and I have no religious bans, so it certainly wasn't because of a perceived stigma. Maybe it was the cost, I was a poor college student, after all. Whatever the reason, I didn't do it.

Realizing now what a cliche that was, and inappropriate for me now, I'm really glad I didn't get it done. Some part of me must have realized that dolphins, while a beautiful and majestic animal, would not be a lifelong passion and I would not be happy having them on my body forever.

After that rebellious phase, I abandoned the idea of a tattoo. There was not a single image or text that I could imagine imprinting on my body that I was reasonably confident I would still like in 10, 20 or 30 years. Never during that time did I feel that tattoos were a bad thing, they just weren't for me.

But in the last few years I have begun to get that urge again. I don't necessarily have an image in mind. If anything, it would likely be an abstract form. A collection of shapes.

Unfortunately, Neil is very much against this idea. He has no tattoos, no plans to get one, and is not at all enthused about his wife having one. Since this is not something I feel strongly about, I don't plan to fight him on it. But if I had led a different life, if I had walked a different path, I might have done something like this:

dragon back Pictures, Images and Photos

or maybe this:

angelina Pictures, Images and Photos

If you were to get a tattoo right now, what would it be? 

Visit Shannon to see what everyone else is chatting about!


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Does Anyone Know Where To Find Magic Swimsuits?

I am a procrastinator. I procrastinate. Why do today what can be put off until tomorrow? So when we decided to take our first ever family vacation with some friends and their kids to Myrtle Beach this summer, naturally I waited to make the reservation. In my defense, the trip is is still months away and the last time I checked, there were rooms aplenty. But when I finally went to make a reservation a few days ago, Mr. Online Reservation told me they were booked. Not to be deterred, I called the hotel. Who told me the same thing, only with a slightly condescending tone of voice.

Needless to say, Neil was PISSED and I felt like asshole of the year. The couple we're going with already made their reservation, at least someone has their caca together, and because they got a crazy good non-refundable deal, switching to another hotel wasn't an option for them. So we were faced with the prospect of staying at a different hotel from our friends, which would completely change the tenor of the trip.

But fate smiled on us. Last night, just as we were about to book at another hotel, Neil decided to check one last time at our hotel of choice, and would you believe they had rooms available? They did. And not just rooms, but the particular type of room we wanted, too. I don't know what happened. Maybe there was a block of cancellations, or maybe there was a computer glitch before. I'm going with my fairy godmother looking out for me again. Whatever the case, I'm pretty stoked.

Now, I just need to lose 20 30 40 pounds, and failing that, find a swimming suit that makes me look like I lost 20 30 40 pounds.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Table Topics Tuesday: SHOPPING!

If you could win unlimited shopping from one store, which one would it be?

This is a tough one for me, because there isn't really a store that I normally visit that sells everything I would want for a truly uninhibited shopping spree.

However, there is one that sells everything I could possibly dream of, and then some, that I have never actually bought anything from: Neiman Marcus. When I was a kid, we got the Neiman Marcus catalog every year. I don't know why, we didn't order anything. We were more of a Spiegel family than Neiman Marcus, but somehow we were on the list. We would pore through the pages, dreaming about the wonderful things that we would order, if money were no object.

They have clothes and dresses. The most gorgeous dresses. They have shoes. The most fantastic high heel, flat, espadrille, wedge, strappy shoes. They have fab handbags. They have the most wonderful housewares and furniture. 80 bojillion threadcount sheets.  And if I had thousands of dollars at my disposal, I would be shopping there in an instant. I would buy an entirely new wardrobe and totally refurnish the house.

And hey, they have free shipping!

Head on over to Shannon's to see what everyone else is talking about.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Cheese With That Whine?

My daughter is the light of my life. She brings me immeasurable joy. Her smile gives me a warm fuzzy bigger than I ever imagined possible. When she hugs me and tells me she loves me, when she puckers up to give me a kiss, I am one million thousand percent in love with her. My heart full to bursting.

Having said all of that, oh my god can she push my buttons:

- Kicking, wailing, screaming, when we brush her teeth. Every. Single. Time. I try to make it fun. I sing silly teethbrushing songs. I clap. I smile. And yet somehow it is still the ultimate torture. The only thing worse is washing her hair. Why is personal hygiene such a hardship?

- Vegetables? Hahahahahahahahaha. (deep breath) Hahahahahahahahaha. No.

- We live in an old house. Old houses have teensy weensy closets. As such, I have two racks full of shoes that sit outside the closet in our bedroom. Sophie goes to those racks and clears them, tossing shoe after shoe over her shoulder. I follow behind her and rerack them all (Some days/weeks, I just leave them, what's the point?). This happens almost every day. I can't count the number of times she has visited time out for this, and yet, she keeps doing it. With a gleam in her eye. Sadist?

- Laundry seems to be an irresistible commodity to her. Clean, dirty, folded - no matter. It all gets tossed out of the basket. This is most frustrating when it's a basket of freshly laundered clothes that I made the mistake of leaving her alone with.

- 7am. Can we just sleep until there's a 7 on the clock? I am a night owl. Always have been, always will be. No amount of sleep deprivation can consistently get me to sleep before midnight. This getting up at 6/6:30 stuff is for the birds. Why did I have to spawn a morning person?

- Dragging me outside, the horror, and then not sticking with any activity I try to engage her in for more than 23 seconds. I don't expect her to spend two hours sidewalk chalking, but come on, kid.

We attack each of these, and many more, every day. Much time is spent in Time Out. I know most are just symptoms of toddlerhood, but the knowing doesn't make them any less frustrating.

Ultimately I complain, because it's what I do, but the truth is that despite all this, that kid of mine is an awful lot of fun.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Fluff

I don't know how all of you parents do it. I honestly expected that as Sophie got older, she would be more self-sufficient and I would be able to do more of my stuff during the day. Not that I expected to just throw her out in the back yard or wherever and be able to watch my stories while I nibbled on bonbons all day. But I did think it would get easier. Once again, I was monumentally wrong. I should stop making assumptions about how I think things are going to be, because so far I'm batting ZERO. They really should have been more clear in the manual.

The reason for that little diatribe is to explain why I can't even seem to produce a whole post lately or get around for much blog visiting. Ironically, there's plenty to talk about (vacation planning, tumbling, sleep problems, my sore neck, pedicures, house projects, etc), just not much time to do it. And what little interweb time I do have, I manage to fill up with other stuff. Like putting the tabs at the top of my header. Which has taken me an insanely long time to do (I can't seem to get the lines to touch the header image, argh) and really doesn't accomplish much, but it does get me one step closer to having that crucial "About" page that everyone raves about. Of course, that would mean I would have to write an About page. Details, details.

So bear with me while we work our way through this stage. Me and my html OCD and Sophie in her "I need every single last scrap of mommy's attention". We'll get through this. I'm predicting that Sophie will be a calm, cool, self-entertaining kid in no time flat.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Table Topics Tuesday

I'm one of those people that doesn't eat leftovers. Even if I LOVED the meal, I just can't bring myself to eat the same stuff two days in a row. So the idea of eating only one meal for the rest of my life is a pretty bleak one. I thrive on variety.

But if I had to. If there were no other options. I think it would be the Mediterranean Salad like the one they serve at Noodles and Company. It's lettuce, tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, feta, cavatappi noodles and shrimp, all tossed in a greek-style spicy yogurt dressing with lemon and garlic.

Yum, right? I love salad. I love pasta. This dish mixes the two. It's got a little tangy and a little salty. There's cheese. There are olives. What's not to love?

If you had to eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?


This post is in no way sponsored or paid for by Noodles and Company. However, if they would like to thank me for it with a Mediterranean Salad, or, you know, a Blogher 2010 sponsorship, I wouldn't turn it down. :)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Take Two

I know you've all been on the edge of your seat waiting to hear how this week's tumbling class went. I am ever so happy to report that things went much, much better. Before class, I spoke to the instructor about what to do when my little tumblebean declined to participate in the group activities and how to encourage her to join the fold. She gave me some excellent tips and reassured me that her behavior was not unusual.

As much as I would like to say that it was my fine parenting that led to today's improved performance, I'm pretty sure it had more to do with her being more comfortable in the environment and activities and therefore less distracted.

Whatever the case, she participated in the circle time, listened better when I told her to wait her turn and only ran off from me a handful of times. I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I do believe I might have given birth to the next Mary Lou Retton.

I apologize for the graininess of these photos. I took them with Lucille, my fabulous iPhone, and while she actually takes some pretty amazing pictures, she's not so good with the action shots. And with my daughter, that's pretty much all there is.

Monday, April 5, 2010


After a shopping excursion to the mall the other day, we decided to stop at the grocery store on the way home to pick up some stuff to make dinner. Because it was unexpected, I didn't have the list from the pad on the refrigerator where I write things down as we run out of them. I knew there were only four things on there, though, so I felt reasonably confident that I would remember them all. I recited the list to myself as I ran in alone, leaving Neil and Sophie in the car.

I wandered through the store, picking up the ingredients I needed to make dinner, grabbing those things from the list as I went. As I picked up the last thing I needed for dinner, I realized that I had only found three of the four things from my list. Try as I might, though, I couldn't remember what that last item was. I walked slowly down one of the aisles, waiting for my memory to return. Approaching the registers, I resigned myself to not getting the last mystery item.

But then, on the middle shelf, in front of the ziploc bags, sat a lone bottle of olive oil. Out of place, on an aisle I had wandered down completely by chance, sat the last thing I needed.

Was it luck? A simple twist of fate. Am I reading too much into it? I'm not a religious person, so I balk at ascribing supernatural symbolism, but this is just one in a long line of these sorts of occurrences for me. I can't help but think they're not ALL just crazy coincidences.

Maybe I have a fairy godmother.

If she's listening, I wouldn't mind being directed to a winning lottery ticket, thankyouverymuch!

**We have a great giveaway going on over at BlogTrotting! Have you entered to win yet?**

Thursday, April 1, 2010


We had our first tumbling class today. I don't know if I've mentioned it before (sarcasm) that my daughter is a tad (more sarcasm) energetic. I figured that nothing could be more appropriate for her than a tumbling class. I had some trepidation, though, because my girl is VERY easily distracted (shocker) and I wasn't sure how well she would do in a "class" setting.

I worry about her sometimes. I hate putting that out there. It makes me feel squidgy to say that I am afraid there might be something not normal about her. I feel like all of the kids we spend time with are so much calmer and more responsive. Getting her to do something she doesn't want to do is tantamount to asking water to go UP Niagara Falls. Stubborn, thy name is Sophie.

But I hoped that this tumbling class would provide enough freedom that we wouldn't have trouble. At first things went well, she was fearless, going on every piece of equipment, even allowing the instructor to help her do some real tumbling. But when it came time to sit in a circle and do group activities, things went way downhill. She wouldn't sit, her preferred spot was standing/dancing/hopping in the middle of the circle. Or racing off to jump on one of the thick bouncy mats. Or the trampoline. Or climbing on the flying trapeze and diving into the foam pit. In most cases, taking the route that I couldn't follow her because she is small and I am not. Which meant that I was then scrambling to get around whatever was in between us and catch up to her. This included at least one header for mommy when I wasn't watching where I was going closely enough.

By the end of the class, I was sweaty and frustrated and incapable of not speaking through clenched teeth. So much for my dreams of her happily going along with all of the activities. I spent the entire time apologizing for my daughter climbing in front of their kids while I pulled her back and told her to wait her turn. I had "that" kid. Let's just say I didn't make any mommy friends.

Neil asked me if I was excited for the rest of the 11 week session. Ask me after next week.

**We have a great giveaway going on over at BlogTrotting! Have you stopped in yet?**