Friday, September 29, 2017

Eight Years

The years, eight. I had to count them actually. I'm terrible at remembering dates these days. I feel like part of it is life flying by. Maybe this is a thing, that as you get older, the time goes faster? I thought it was as your kids get older and more self-sufficient, the time flies, because you get more time to yourself. When E was a baby, I remember every hour feeling like a day and wanting to hand my husband a baby at six o'clock in the evening and run. I tried filling as many hours a day with activities as I could to make the time pass faster. Now that he's like, a real person, downtime doesn't mean that I have to entertain him. He can entertain himself. Not that we even really have downtime. Anyway, eight years seems like a long time. It doesn't feel that long. I don't know what it feels like. I don't like the years going by because it's that much further away from when she was here.

Because my life is a blur, I realized today, as I got dressed and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, at forty three, and as I was walking into work, that it's almost the deathiversary of my mother. I don't feel like looking back to see if I wrote something last year. I may not have. It's just not my thing to lament over death, her death, publicly. I'm public about most everything, but what is there to say really? She's dead. It's been eight years. I wonder what life would be like if she wasn't dead. The way life has gone for us since she died, I think it was look totally different, like the difference in a Choose Your Own Adventure series book. Holidays would look different, maybe even friendships, since we do so much with friends because we don't have family. Not that I really did holidays with my mother, but I may have because of E. I just don't know what it would be like.

I thought of her today because I don't always look in the mirror anymore before I leave the house. And I KNOW she didn't. While I will always have more fashion sense, which isn't difficult considering she was carrying around an acid-washed denim fanny pack, wearing scrunchies in her hair, men's athletic socks on her feet, and blue mascara until she died, I sometimes glimpse my mother looking back at me when I look in the mirror. Yesterday I left the house in the afternoon in a ribbed tank top (one of her staples) and cargo pants. Hair in a bun, wisps of grey now showing and sticking out, and no make-up aside from mascara (black). She didn't wear any make-up besides the mascara, and some powder bronzer. She didn't have to since she was tan all year round. I don't always see her in the mirror, but there are definitely some days more than others.

I think about what we would talk about. How I could tell her I finally get why she didn't want to be besties with the moms of the girls I liked in my grade. Not that she wasn't friendly or that I'm not. Just more that I get having "your people". And that trying to make mom friends out of people just because your kid likes their kid isn't easy. That it's like dating. And once you find your people, you're good. There just isn't enough time or energy to be best friends with everyone. Social climbing wasn't for her and it's not for me. Not that I needed to learn that or that I ever did it, but I just get it more now than ever in my life.

I have questions I get annoyed I can't ask. I found out that all the information that was around about my ancestry and heritage were thrown out. I'd done and tests and people are coming out of the woodwork as second cousins. I've had people send photos to me with my grandparents and their siblings in them and I have questions I would've liked to ask her. Not that I would've gotten anywhere since Rita was known to make things up, but I still would've liked the chance.

I would've asked her to show me how to make HER turkey. Not just any turkey. HERS. I have the recipe and my friend Alex said she'd help me try it out, but I would've liked to watch her make hers at least once. The thought of trying to put something UNDER turkey skin makes me want to puke, but I still want to try it out. I mastered my grandmother's brisket, so I'm sure I could do a turkey, but it has to be her way. I've never had any other turkey that could compare. I can still see it in my head- turkey slices, in it's own juice- never "gravy", with a plastic cup of cut, raw veggies. Every time I take a baggie of raw green beans to eat, plain, and Alex goofs on me, I think of my mother. The way E will think of me when he gives that to his kids as a "normal side dish" at dinner.

I don't think about her all the time. I don't. I don't miss her all the time. Sometimes missing her comes on like a surprise. I don't know what to say to people who have lost their moms, even years ago, and still feel as sad and full of loss as they did whenever it happened. Everyone grieves differently and feels differently about their loss. Time has definitely lessened the pain of loss, it's dulled the sense of missing her, and memories aren't as flooding or as often. I'd been sick on and off over the last month, and that's when I think about her more- when I'm sick. When I get sick, the first thing to happen usually is swollen glands and a sore throat. I'd make her rub the outside of my neck from the front with her thumb and forefinger- like you were going to choke someone. It didn't really help but it helped, if that makes sense.

I think everyone turns into a big baby when they're sick and I'm no different. She'd have me lay in her lap and she'd rub the outside of my swollen glands. I picture this at my grandmother's condo in Fort Lee, because I tend to get sick at the change of seasons, and we'd be at my grandmother's this time of year for Rosh Hashanah. My paternal grandparents lived fifteen minutes away but we only saw them on holidays. So that's just what I think of in the fall when I'm sick.

I think about her when I go through Entertainment magazine, the issue with the Fall TV line-up. I think about what she'd be watching. I see a movie like Edge of Seventeen and know she would've loved it. E and I watch America's Got Talent and I know who she'd be rooting for to stay, and who she'd be happy to see go. I think about how she would've kvelled over a multi-room DVR, how it would've just made her life. Knowing it would be at 98% at any given time. 

I don't remember the date of her deathiversary. I think it's Oct 2nd. I know Sept 30th is the day she had surgery, so it must be the 2nd. I know it's soon, as is her birthday. I'm sure someone will remind me when it is though, as usual- seeing as someone will probably write on her Facebook page and it will come up in my feed. Or one of my three thousand contacts, that no longer have names attached in my phone, will inevitably send me a text that they're thinking of me. Then I'll say back, "thank you, I really appreciate it, but I have no idea who this is...." like I've had to do in the past. When I got my iPhone before this one, the names were magically removed from my contacts. It's great that I never have any idea who's texting me so it's like a game. Sometimes the name comes back, sometimes comes up as a nickname I didn't put in there, mostly just a number. Always a crapshoot.

I don't really have much else to say. But these anniversaries of death in the fall come up, and I feel like I'm forced to think about them. I hate fall. I hate fall because it means the end of summer. I don't hate fall because of death. Fall, by definition is death, so really, what better time for it? Flowers die, leaves fall, it gets cold and bitter. Let's get everything death related out in one season. I just don't really like to think about it. I'm not particularly sad or angry. I don't think about this all day. I don't need a hug. I'm the same as I am any other time. Just maybe thinking about her more. Other people might pour one out for their loved one. Have a drink to them. That wouldn't do it for her. Maybe I'll just make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for someone else and lick the knife while making it, do a little dance to Michael Jackson, while wearing a scrunchie and give someone random incorrect facts to celebrate her properly.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

How You Doin Again

I can't believe I never got to writing about this, but my friend Alex and I went to be in the audience of Wendy Williams over the summer. It was the last show before she went on hiatus for the rest of the summer. Wendy's show is back now from summer hiatus, so it reminded me that I didn't talk about my experience.

I'd gone to be in the audience once before. I was supposed to go with my other friend but something happened. I think she was supposed to have morning coverage for her kids and then at the last minute it didn't work out. I wasn't going to forfeit the tickets so I went alone. It was December so it was cold and possibly rainy or snowy and I remember I was wearing the WRONG shoes. Other than that, the guest was Dita Von Teese, who I'm not interested in, and I don't remember anything much else about it. Oh, except that I raised my hand to participate in the warm up before the show, and ended up having to twerk in front of the entire crowd. PS- I did not "twerk"- I twirled, because I was wearing my renaissance looking sweater coat, and that's this uncoordinated forty-something mom can handle. All I got for my embarrassment was some kind of eye mask.

This time, it was July and it was HOT. There was probably only like five over ninety degree days this whole summer and this was one of them. I made the ticket reservation for the afternoon taping. On Wednesdays, at least this July, they would do two shows- one live, then one taped. I figured that it would be easier to come for the afternoon one so we wouldn't have to get up at the crack of dawn AND battle rush hour traffic into NYC. We had to be there by 12:30p "officially". That means you have to line up like an hour before that just to make sure you get in. I think all of the talk shows overbook to make sure they have a full house, so even with tickets, you're not guaranteed entry, which is understandable. We got there at 11:16a and there was already a decent sized line. I let Alex out to get on line and I parked the car in the lot right next to the studio.

It was SO hot and humid. It had to be over ninety-five. We were under an overhang, but that didn't cut the humidity. We were melting. However, it was worse for the older woman ahead of us because she fainted. FAINTED.

This is where I have a problem. I get that all these shows make you wait on line. The security guys stand there to make sure you stay in line and I don't know why else, but when it's over ninety degrees, they should have a cart with water on it out there. Wendy calls the audience her "co-hosts". Well, would you make a real co-host stand outside in the heat until they faint, without having some system in place where water is offered? At some point, the security guys asked, "Does anyone need water?". When people said they did need water, they said, "Ok, you can get out of line, go down the street and buy some at Duane Reed". What, now? What the faint-ation is THAT??

This is Wendy's ninth season, not the first. Not even the second. I understand that there isn't Oprah level money going on and no one is getting a car, but water? You can't give out, or even SELL water? Have a cart and make money off it then! Something!

The woman who fainted was there with her adult daughter. After a few minutes with the lady who fainted being helped by nice line standing strangers, sitting outside on some steps that were luckily there, security took her inside. They LEFT HER DAUGHTER OUTSIDE. They wouldn't even bring her in with her mom! So, she's on the line, all worried about her mom. It seemed crazy. She didn't know what to do.

The one silver lining was seeing Kaldrick King (Andra Fuller) on his way out. He was on Wendy's live show earlier that day. I don't know what else he's in- apparently it's something out now that he was promoting. I got up my nerve, as I do, and I said, "Excuse me, were you on L.A. Complex??" He smiled and said, "Yes!" and we high-fived. L.A. Complex was this weird Canadian version of Melrose Place that I found on Netflix a few years ago to watch on the treadmill. It was awesome. Andra played Kaldrick King, this famous rapper who was secretly gay. Little trivia note: So many of the cast from that series have turned up on Blindspot on NBC. Joe Dinicol, Jonathan Patrick Moore, Jewel Staite, Aaron Abrams, Georgina Reilly, Jordan Johnson-Hinds & Ennis Esmer have all been spotted for an episode or more long-term.

Finally, we were all ushered in like cattle. My little group was picked to be surrounding the stage for Naughty By Nature's performance. They just said anyone from numbers x to x were "doing something fun and special". Yeah, that's not what I would've picked to do, but okay. We're there, so we do. We had to do a little blocking first to see where we'd stand and whatnot though. Up the cattle elevator, down the cattle elevator. Alex was claustrophobic with people too close to her, and I swear, she was ready to bolt and wash her hands of the whole scene. I didn't know she'd never been to any talk show before so I didn't think to give her the general run through. Not that it would've mattered- this was different than my experience at/on The Jane Show, Iyanla VanZant, Tyra Banks, The View, Rachael Ray, etc. Yes, I've been on and to a lot of shows. That's a topic for another time...

One thing that's very different than in other studio audiences I've been in, is the constant DJ'ing going on. It's SO LOUD. You can barely talk to the person next to you, it's so loud. I'm not just being all "Git off my lawn, whippersnappers!". It's LOUD. And the warm up is weird. I've been there twice now, and the comedian guy alludes to the audience winning something, and then it's nothing. It's really bizarre, like they're messing with you. I listened to the verbiage better this time, and it sounds like you're winning something the way he says it, then you leave empty handed. You don't go there because you're going to "get" some kind of parting gift, but I find it strange to do that to your audience. People really thought they were getting something and confused. And this was the second time I'd heard that schtick, so apparently it's the same old routine. Maybe I'm just misinterpreting what he's saying.

Then Miss Wendy came out. The Wendy you see on the show and the Wendy in person are two very different people. On the show, she makes it like she's "one of us". One of the people. A co-host. She makes it like she's on the same level as the audience, even throwing out a personal compliment here and there about what someone's wearing. She does DO that, but let me see if I can articulate this properly...

She has managed to perfect the art of her eyes being open, being physically there, but not actually seeing or interacting. Like I do at sporting events. I think the show is constantly loud, even through the commercial breaks, so that she doesn't have to talk to the audience. She'll even come into the audience to shimmy around, but she doesn't make eye contact. She also has like three bodyguards around her. She either has security because she's probably wearing around 100k worth of diamonds and other jewelry or because she's afraid of falling. She's mentioned she's not steady on her feet, which is why she wears flats when she's not sitting in the purple chair. Or simply so no one tries to talk to her. She's standing RIGHTNEXTTOYOU but it's so loud you can't talk to her and she's not looking you in the eye. She's there, but she's not THERE. She knows EXACTLY how to keep the audience at arm's length. At other shows, during commercial breaks some of the hosts would roam around the aisles and make idle chit chat. Not Wendy!

I started feeling like she was getting a bit of a superiority thing when she was on Dancing With The Stars. I don't recall exactly why, but it was just her whole spoiled tone in the way she discussed it. The other day I caught a rerun from some time over the past year and she was talking about tipping and over-tipping. The whole conversation rubbed me the wrong way. She said she never tips more than 18% and it annoys her when her husband over-tips. She said something like, her tip is her smiling face- that she's not a diva, and doesn't send food back. Awesome, Wendy, I'm sure your smiling face pays the bills of that server that literally depends on tips. No, you don't have to tip a ridiculous amount on a small bill like an Amy Schumer (Wendy referenced her as a big tipper), but if you can afford it, treating servers well says a lot and goes a long way for people who don't even make minimum wage.

At the end of the show, she won't take individual photos with co-hosts, but she WILL walk behind the rows and let you take a backwards selfie with her. :::insert eye-roll::: I look like a wall-eyed bass in mine because I couldn't take a backwards selfie that fast catching both her and I in it at the same time very well. 

I'm also not loving how I felt Suzanne Bass, her producer, has been treated more recently. She talks to her like she's a moron. And then she shamed her once last season that was so mortifying. It was one of those, no-she-didn't moments I wasn't even sure was real at first. It sure as hell was though when it was referenced the next day though and Suzanne had tears in her eyes.

In the "holding area", they have one small bathroom, some mirrors on the walls outside the bathroom if you want to touch up your make-up, and just a bunch of chairs. Not even a vending machine. I'm lucky I remembered to bring a Zone bar. Alex had nothing. We were STARVING by the time we left.

Because this was a taped episode, the whole taping was longer than you'd be there for live show. For that reason alone, you'd think there would be some water and/or some snacks. Nope. Nothing. I know at either The View and/or Rachael Ray, there were definitely snacks. At Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, they didn't give snacks, but they told you prior to bring snacks and drink with you. Including the time Alex and I spent on line waiting to go in at Wendy, until it was over and we were let out, was a good four and a half to five hours. We got out around four o'clock. Then we ran, RAN, to some sandwich and salad place up the street. We didn't even speak. We just shoveled food into our faces in a hurry so we wouldn't be stuck in rush hour traffic going home.

I'm still watching, but I can't see going there again. I'll enjoy it from my chair at work. The ticket application form they have asks you why you're coming to the show. We were going for my birthday, which is August 2, but they're on hiatus in August. I wrote that we were coming for my birthday, but two weeks early because of their hiatus. Then, when we were in the holding area, they asked if anyone was there for their birthday, because they give out tiaras. I raised my hand, but they wouldn't even give me a freaking tiara because it has to be my birthday THAT DAY, otherwise they "give out too many tiaras". Come on Wendy. Seriously? Again, we didn't go there to get anything, but the whole experience from soup to nuts certainly doesn't make you feel like a co-host. Unless you're co-hosting being held captive with no food or water for the better part of a day.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Sweet Tooth : Duck Donuts

So many things I haven't gotten to write about. I see all the pictures in my Google photos account that I've taken over the summer, but I've just lost my mojo to get them on the blog. I know, I know. I've been saying stuff like that for the better part of a year. :::pssst::: Look at what's gone on over the past year. Hard to write about nonsense. I'm trying.

My cousin lives down the shore. We see them almost every week of the summer. I try to get to Cupcake Magician in Red Bank, but funny enough, that happens more easily in the winter. Their hours don't work with mine in the summer- they close too early on Saturday for me to catch them when we get down after work, and too early Sunday for me to get there after the beach.

We started using Waze to go home from down the shore on Sunday nights because the traffic had been atrocious. I actually don't think we went home the same way twice this summer. One of the times we went up Rt 35, I saw Duck Donuts. It wasn't open but I saw where it is in Middletown, NJ. I don't know that area, but I made a mental note. Then on one of my message boards, someone told me I should go there. Once I knew where it was, I made it a mission.

The crappy weather Saturday of Labor Day weekend, we got down early enough to make it there.

I have to say, it's a very cool idea as far as doughnuts go. I thought it would be like the doughnut places by me- where you have to get there early or popular flavors sell out for the day. Even with cupcakes that happens. This is different. It's a made to order kind of thing. Like a make your own sandwich or salad.

You start with a base- I believe it's a plain doughnut or vanilla. Then you pick toppings. Like a frosting- vanilla, strawberry, peanut butter, chocolate, etc. Then you can pick glazes, sugar, hot fudge, sprinkles, etc. I was little overwhelmed since it was my first time there, so I just picked "favorites" off their menu.

Once I saw they were "made to order", I thought it would take a long time. But the girls who work there are actually pretty quick! We were really in and out of there in a short time. 

I got one dozen for us, then I got four for my cousin and her husband. Lesson learned. These are something you want to eat the day you get them or after. They were FANTASTIC the first day. I just thought they'd keep more like cupcakes. Good cupcakes stay fresh at least one more day, without any kind of refrigeration or freezing. These kind of sweat by the second day and by the third day, they're hard. That's fine- I just didn't realize. I couldn't (well, I COULD, but wouldn't) eat so many in one sitting or day. I just would've bought less at one time just to feed the three of us for one day.

One dozen was around $15. To me, that's a good price- because it's the same price no matter what you get on them. It makes it easy and economical. I would much rather bring these - let's say two or three dozen even, to a party or event, vs spending probably twice that on cupcakes. It's also much easier to cut and share a doughnut than a cupcake, which enables people to sample different flavors. Two thumbs up from me! I'll be back!