Me, My Mother, and a Whole Lot of Coffee

When you have kids, they always seem to collect one thing that seems to take over all your living space to the point that you want to kill anyone who gives them another one. With my daughter, it was stuffed animals. Every time she got a new one I wanted to stuff it down the throat of the person who gave it to her.

In the vein of ‘things never change’ my own mother is still going through that with me, only now it’s my collection of coffee mugs.

My mother babysits for me all the time. She actually does more than that – she is there for me all of the time, for whatever I need and whenever I need it. I always manage to work jobs that have crazy hours; she pretty much takes my place at home when I’m working. That includes washing my dishes.

I don’t have a dishwasher – well, technically I suppose I do, but Mom hates when I call her that.

Her biggest bitch is about the amount of coffee cups I have. When my daughter is out for any extended period of time, it’s almost a certainty that all the ‘dishes’ in my sink will be coffee cups.

People tend to give me coffee mugs as gifts. That happens when people know you drink a lot of coffee.

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The same thing happens when people know you wear tiaras.

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Every time I get a new mug, she starts yelling about how much space they take up. With my ‘older’ perspective, it’s actually quite funny.

Just like old times.

The thing is, I can’t get rid of any of them. They all mean something to me and usually have a story attached.

This one offends my daughter. Even if I hated it (and I don’t), that’s reason enough to keep it.


This one was part of a set of four that my grandmother owned. My siblings and I each got one after she passed. Drinking from it is like having coffee with Grandma.

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I got a new one two weeks ago while on vacation at Old Orchard Beach, ME. The story behind it is a little longer because it started last year.

For some reason, I wake up very early when I’m on vacation. The last three years in OOB I’ve been getting up in time to catch the sunrise on the beach. The first year my best friends and our kids and I went to Maine together we stayed in a small unit of one house. Last year and this year we got a bigger unit; the same one for this year and last. I had a HUGE problem last year with the coffee cups in the cabinet: they were teeny tiny. I would pour a cup that I would finish drinking before I walked the 15 steps to the sand. Before the week was over, I was on a quest to find the perfect coffee mug for my beach sunrise mornings.

(And I mean “quest”. Everyone heard me complaining about the lack of a decent coffee cup. Mom was there a few days with us, and she heard it, too.)

My best friend Donna found THE mug three days before we went home. We each got the same mug, just a different color.

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The mug WAS perfect – until we got home. One pass thru Donna’s dishwasher and two passes through ‘my’ dishwasher and the logo washed off! We couldn’t believe it!

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These cups are from 1985 and 1988 (they are dated on the bottom), and they are perfect!

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When it was time to go on vacation this year, I was tempted to bring a coffee mug. I had overpacked again, and because of that I almost didn’t pack the mug. It was Mom who reminded me how … uptight I had been the previous year about the coffee mugs. I had actually forgotten until I got there and opened the cabinet and saw the cups that were there – and it all came back to me in a flash. I was grateful I did bring my own. (Thank you, Mom.)

Of course, Donna and I discussed how bummed we were about last year’s mugs. When Donna found this new one, I went out and bought one, too (a different color). The logo is in the ceramic; it won’t wash off!


Mom was unable to come up to Maine this year, so she did not know I got a new mug.

Because life is life I went back to work after we came home, and Mom was back at my house washing dishes. Of course, she noticed the new coffee mug. I was actually surprised that she didn’t start bitching. Well, she did, but then stopped herself when she realized that the logo wasn’t going to wash off. She actually sanctioned this one because of that! “You DO need your souvenir, and you had to replace the other one.” Wow!

This mug is now extra special to me; it matches one my best friend has, it’s a souvenir of a special place, and the logo won’t rub off. I’m also sure, one day when I’m forced to wash my own dishes after a week of working crazy hours and I notice the ratio of coffee cups to plates, I’m going to think of my mother.

AND because kids never change – even when they get older – the fact that my mother ‘allowed me to have it’ AFTER THE FACT makes me feel a little like I got away with something!


Taking the Smooth with the Rough

Today was one of those days you’re not unhappy to see end. No tragedies, just unfortunate circumstances that make that night’s sleep a welcome escape. The plans my young daughter and I had for a girls’ day with our cousins who live an hour’s drive away were scratched when my car overheated 20 minutes into the drive. My car had to be temporarily abandoned and a friend came to rescue us and bring us back home.

Today is Saturday. This unfortunate event means all weekend plans are negated – and I actually had plans all weekend, too. Adult ones, even, because my daughter is sleeping over a friend’s house tonight. Here I am, showered, shaved, having a great hair day – even wearing what (for me) could be called a cute outfit (as opposed to the way I normally leave the house: lawfully covered) – and I am stuck.

The drive to my cousin’s house was well-planned and supposed to be part of the day’s fun because it was sort of a ‘maiden voyage’ road trip. My daughter is 12 and only this year old enough and big enough to be sitting in the front seat; we had the tunes ready, we hit the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru, and we had the top down on the car. It was 82° when we left. One of our first real spring days here in New England. It will be 30° cooler by tomorrow. We might have another spring day some time during the week (you know, while we are all working). We hope.

Obviously, that little milestone will have to wait. Hopefully, my car can be fixed without too much pain and discomfort and we can try again another time.

There was another little milestone that she crossed today. Because I am me, this is a milestone that I cannot let be overshadowed by the day’s frustration: she shaved today for the first time. While I whined about my car on Facebook, I could not make a public post about this subject – but I can blog about it, because she doesn’t read these!

She’s a weird little kid. Good weird, but weird. If I had told her last year that she could sit in the front seat of the car she would have refused because she knew she did not meet the age and weight requirements. She’s kind of a stickler for those rule things. Don’t know where she gets that from.

But to me, this is a milestone for her because it was a milestone for me. I won’t get into my feelings about shaving in general (but if you want to read that particular bitch, click here), but it was a big deal for me. I remember begging my mother to let me shave my legs in 6th and 7th grade, but she kept telling me I was too young. I tried to explain that shaving had nothing to do with age and everything to do with hair – and Eddie. He was a year older than me and he tormented me for those two years on the school bus, calling me “Hairy Mary.” She finally let me start just in time for 8th grade – and after Eddie moved on to high school. She wouldn’t let me use a blade, either; I had to use an electric razor because she felt it was safer.

I understood my mother wanting me to wait, because shaving is a lifetime commitment once you start. I was actually hoping the hipsters would decide that shaving was too mainstream and take a more European approach before the subject came up for my daughter so that she would not have to take on this aggravating female burden (we have enough). But that didn’t happen.

She asked to start shaving. I let her. And, I let her use a real razor. (6th grade, Mom.)  I found out during our discussion that she had ‘already done her research’ and watched a few YouTube videos that a few girls had made regarding certain events that come up in a girl’s life. Research. Funny kid. With everything I’ve said on the subject already, she probably wanted to make sure she didn’t go through anything I did.  

And in her usual, quiet way (nothing like me), she took care of business by herself – outside of a few small questions – like it was no big deal. Even after she was done she had little to say about it. Hell, I remember staring at my legs for hours after I shaved for the first time, amazed at the transformation and giddy with it.

She did say one thing, somewhat boastfully, about not injuring herself – but that’s because she has YouTube, and me, and she didn’t have an older cousin who handed her a blade without telling her she needed to use soap and water with it.

I have high hopes for her now. She should not be scarred for life like I am.

She didn’t have Eddie. Or cousin Kimmy.

More Shameless Self-Promotion

For those who haven’t heard (those fortunate enough not to be near enough to me to shove something in their faces), I have co-authored a book with Jody Clark.

Jody is a screenplay writer from York, Maine, and has nine scripts under his belt. He went looking for writers on the East Coast to help him turn his scripts into novels. He found me (God help him) during his search.

I’m happy to say we were able to stick to something of a schedule and finished it in a year.

Our book, Livin’ on a Prayer,  is a comedy following high school sweethearts Tommy and Gina and their friends from 1988 to the present. It is a story that takes you from hair bands and Aquanet through tragedy and redemption, all the way to yoga pants.

If you were fortunate enough to experience the 80s – even if you only vaguely remember them – and enjoy hearty and heartwarming laughter, check it out here!


What Not To Wear

How a person dresses – at any age – is and should always be a matter of personal choice. When we are comfortable or are happy in (or even enjoy) what we are wearing, we perform at our best. The problem is, we are told that fashion is not a matter of personal choice, but of age and public opinion, and the only exceptions to these rules of age-appropriateness and dress-code deviance are specific highly acclaimed artists and celebrities. People who toe outside of the accepted boundaries of FASHION are insulted, publicly shamed (“Worst-dressed List,” anyone?), and mocked (“Are you going to WalMart?”).

What is FASHION? Fashion is defined as a noun in two ways:

  • A popular trend, especially in styles of dress and ornamentation.
  • A manner of behavior or doing something.

Fashion is also defined as a verb:

  • Make into a particular or required form.

There is a bit of irony in the definitions of the word, if you think about it:

Acceptable FASHION (n.) is only considered to be after one has been FASHIONED (v.).

What happened to “Express yourself” or “Be YOU”?

Eddie Izzard summed it up nicely when his mode of dress was questioned:

“They’re not women’s clothes. They’re my clothes. I bought them.”

We are not supposed to be fashioned into being anything other than who we are. Keep in mind, too, that those acclaimed celebrities were not accepted for their non-conformity until it became recognized that they weren’t going to change; eventually, it became expected of them – thus allowed and accepted.

Wear what makes you happy. Be you, inside and outside.

That being said, there are a few suggestions about things that shouldn’t be worn, however these guidelines are somewhat situational and fall more under the category of personal safety.

What Not to Wear

Too-tight clothing: Clothing that interferes with your breathing is not good, because breathing is necessary for a lot of things.

Stiletto heels: There’s a time and place for high heels, even when you’re not standing on them; however, they should never be worn:

  • When swimming, jogging, or skiing.
  • In the snow; they don’t have a lot of traction and you could slip and fall.
  • While riding a bike or motorcycle – unless you are the token sexy prop in a commercial for some pricey male cologne or, of course, Viagra.

“Mom Jeans”: I hate to break it to you, ladies, you’ve been wearing Mom Jeans since you gave birth. If the jeans are hers, and she is a Mom, her jeans are Mom Jeans. Transitive Property. Do the math.

Miniskirts: These should never be worn when walking a tightrope or climbing a ladder, because others will be able to see your underwear. It’s probably not a good idea to wear them out in the snow either, because it’s cold.

Short-shorts: Like miniskirts, these should not be worn out in the snow, either; they are made for warmer weather. Be careful on slides. Hot slides can burn – especially those old metal ones.

Tops that expose a lot of cleavage: These should not be worn to a wedding; remember it is unfair for the girls (any of ‘the girls’) to upstage the bride. It might also be considered a little disrespectful to wear them to a funeral (unless, of course, it’s your funeral).

Long, dangly earrings:  These can be dangerous if worn during sports or on rollercoasters – one could chip a tooth or poke an eye out.

Flip-flops: See Stiletto heels. For the same reasons (although these are not meant for advertising to the male demographic). But please, please, don’t wear socks with them. That’s just wrong.

Bright nail polish: If you wash dishes without gloves, or your hands are in and out of water a lot, bright nail polish isn’t a good idea; this type of activity will cause the nail polish to chip faster, and bright colors show off chips more obviously than the blander colors.

Sleeveless tops and dresses: If you have a sunburn on your arms and shoulders, you should not wear anything sleeveless if you are going back outside. Keep them covered until the sun goes down.

Belly button rings: These may only pose a problem if you work a job with high-level security or spend a lot of time at airports, as some of the metal in certain jewelry pieces may set off alarms in metal detectors. Do you want to spend the extra time removing your belly ring while taking off your shoes, taking your laptop out of your bag, and emptying your pockets?

Laws of fashion are not Universal Law. Ignoring them will not cause you any harm like, say, ignoring the Law of Gravity might.


See also When Will I Be Old Enough to Wear Purple?