Charlywalker's Blog












I just spent the last week out West visiting friends and combing the old neighborhood.  Or should I say “Hoods”, as we owned a few places there during our eight year stint in La-La land.  There is an old cliche that I have heard in my youth from one octogenarian that carries a familiar ring to it, and it goes like this:

“You can never go home again”.

Meaning, once one makes a big change in ones life, things will not be the same.

Or will they?

What if you have lived and left so many places that you have forgotten which is the one place you call home?  Is home where the heart is?  What if I left my heart in San Fransisco……. well, maybe I’m an organ donor……….

  What if I sold a home in Los Angeles and took the  cold cash and left smiling with my heart pounding with profit……only to return to witness my ex abode had nearly doubled  in value since I left.  Which elevated the blood pressure that could produce a heart to linger in the old hood for a permanent stay.

Maybe some claim their home to be where their families originate from.  After I finish a trip out to visit my original clan, the cliche circling my head when I leave changes to :

” I don’t wanna go home again”.

When I enter my 87 year old mothers home I am blown away by the volume of her  55 inch HDTV  that stands four feet away from her  leather Lazy-Boy screaming re-runs of Archie Bunker  into her ears that are covered with wireless headphones that she neglects to turn on.

As I repeatedly tell her to turn the volume down on the flat screen, she motions with her hands that she can’t hear me  and complains ” how the new headphones my brother bought her are faulty”, while fumbling for the remote in the seat cushion, which she ultimately left on the kitchen table….

It usually takes a good 45 minutes to muddle through our initial HELLo’s as this is her morning ritual.  My mother’s hearing has been checked and has been determined normal by her Doctors.  Normal for who……all 87 year old ladies?  I can just imagine her annual physical with the MD who just graduated  cum LOUD from Medical school:

 Dr:   ” Well Mrs. C, we find your hearing is normal for a woman of your age, now here’s an Rx for some Q-tips and the nurse will equip you with a new volume controlled Remote at the front desk .  It has three settings: LOUD…..LOUDER……and LOUDEST.  We do offer our deluxe model that is assured to strike a family  members nerve and chase them from your home, but I believe it has yet to be covered by Medicare..”.

Every time I leave from a visit  with my mother  and her turbulent TV, I am left with voices ringing in my head for days.  The frequency and pitch that emanate from her GSN network  combined with a decibel level that could enforce an earthquake, cause my brain to short circuit, which leads me to a frantic rage to unearth the lost remote.   WHICH concluded my suspicion that it was  actually Rod Roddy’s voice belting in the back round  inviting me to  “C’MON DOWN”  to visit when I phoned her last………no wonder she was surprised to see me…..

It’s not just her blatant TV that drives me back into therapy, it’s watching her use her cell phone to lower the volume of the TV, and  then complain that the remote is as faulty as the wireless head phones….

Or watching her race around to locate where the ringing is coming from. She keeps her cell and house phone nearby, but sometimes they find themselves  traveling separately and end up in different locations.  My brother likes to tease, and  will dial her home phone and cell phone simultaneously.  He says it gets her out of the recliner……..a form of exercise……..Dr.’s Orders….

Sometimes when I have been out running errands for her I return to the Loud TV sitting alone.  My mother is nowhere in sight.  My heart started an anxious pounding of what I might find around the corner, but it was subdued by my slipping on a trail of green olives I found leading to the front door.  She had stepped out to the porch to enjoy a mid afternoon cocktail.  A  dry martini with green olives.  NOT Doctor’s orders.

I went outside and sat out front with her as she stared out  into the yard. I watched as she sipped her forbidden drink and was thoroughly amazed at how she could manage to locate and mix a  perfect martini for herself yet unable to turn off the TV or lower the volume.  I watched as she calmly enjoyed her surroundings even with the boisterous back round of Desi Arnaz babaloooing through the halls…

I went in the kitchen and helped my self to one of her Martini’s and found the remote to turn down the TV to a level below “Batty” and joined her out side.  As we sat and studied the gardens she turned to me and noticed I was lacking olives in my martini.  I told her she was out of olives.  As I lifted my foot to cross my legs she saw my shoes coated with olive and pimento residue smashed on the sole and stated:

“Most people use them IN the drink”.

That made made us laugh……and my heart flutter as the Home Shopping Network bartered in the back round noise……

 When I returned home I sat in front of my TV watching a travel show and contemplated  all the areas of this great planet  that I have had the privilege to call home.  The places I have lived and left, as far as I can see, actually remained the same, maybe over the years some have sprouted some urban growth, but the changes I witnessed came from the heart. I sat on the couch sleepily captivated by my thoughts only to be awakened by my daughter telling me to:

“Turn the volume down on the TV”……..

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I have been doing time as a quasi- stay- at -home parent for..let’s say…..22.5 years.   I believe I  have met the necessary requirements and demands  that became the imprisoned criteria throughout those years in order to  obtain freedom from:  boring PTA meetings,  exhaustible Fund Raisers, Mad Max Sports Chauffeur,  24 hour on call chef , Personal Shopper, Emotional Referee, and in-house psychiatrist…..All this parental jurisprudence  under one leaky roof to allow freedom while enforcing order among family chaos….

I have enjoyed my time in this institution of parenting through each and every stage of child development.   All the way from directing developing girls into their  first wonder bra, to underdeveloped boys figuring out how to un-hook them.

It seems like only yesterday that my daughter was putting her toddler feet into my size 8 Charles Jourdan’s teetering and shuffling through the house while leaving a trail of scratch marks on the hardwoods.  Now she is grown and shuffles her  Knock-off collection between college and home via the trunk of a car, and still teeters and stumbles  in her stiletto’s on the hardwoods.

And my son, soon to  approach high school graduation and walk towards that collegiate path where he will pick up the fork in the road  and use it as a reminder of all the lovely over cooked meals mom made for him.  I think he will enjoy his “leaving the nest” gift I constructed out of the  equipment and attire that lays suffocating inside his sports bag gasping for a breath of fresh Febreze huddled in the garage for months on end….…..oh it just brings tears to my eyes……..

 Yes, time flies when you’re raising kids. Sometimes too fast and in certain predicaments, sometimes not fast enough. Looking back for example: Potty training.  My children had stubborn bottoms. There was no way in Hell that they were going to plant their tuschies on a porcelain stool containing water with a hole in it and “let loose”.  They might fall in and who knows where that  would lead to.

I invested in a lot of time and energy and “potty” reading material in order to get my kids trained in toiletry. I researched all the child experts and read  their advice on bathroom training and the commode controversy. All that information just filtered an assortment of crap that drained me and I was left pooped for the day. Who has that kind of time to sit and read  lengthy descriptive potty books to toddlers in hopes to encourage a movement.

When my kids did finally concede to try the pot located in a chamber adjacent to their rooms, they found themselves  actually liking it and would sit for what seemed like hours.  Once my son  hopped off the pot to go grab a toy and return to the bathroom theater to reenact the “mummy” with Elmo wrapped in Ultra Soft.

My daughter took a more regal approach and dragged her Crayola markers  to the throne as she mastered an  imitation of a Calder painting onto the toilet tank.

Yes, those were the days that I didn’t mind if the hours raced on ahead…

 Lately,I find myself caught in a web that spins in only two directions as my parenting comes down a home stretch creating a possibility for early parole….if you’ll Pardon the expression. There is a minor offensive feeling of freedom when you are about to face an empty nest. It’s sort of an unleashed guilty pleasure of retreating back to what was once designated  as ” Me Time”;  yet, at the same time, harboring a push-me-pull-you defense against “letting Go”.

Just as I came to grips with the realization that my household was soon to be down to basically Charly-dog and me, and I started to feel the content and joy of releasing  most of the everyday tedium  involved with indwelling kids.  Just as my heart  started to jump for joy as I unfastened the shackles of daily duties revolving around kid schedules and looking forward to…oh….I dunno………. perennial Spa time?……..

I received a phone call.

My son’s school called to ask if we could be an “emergency host family for a foreign exchange student from Holland who needed a place until graduation in June”.

This all came about before the holidays. I could not  lie and tell my sons school that there was “no room at the inn”, so I took the little Dutch boy in.

Apparently Amsterdam Boy and my son are two tulips in a vase. They became best friends at the beginning of the  school year.  When Holland boy’s window of opportunity landed  from Netherland into our home, I swear I had met my sons Doppleganger.  They are the same size and shape. They laugh alike, they walk alike, and  times they even talk alike.……….in different languages.

They are both carved out of the same Dutch Elm. Both their bedrooms  resemble an aftermath of the Fourth Anglo-Dutch war.  The shrapnel of clothing splinter out from the opened dresser drawers and wounded trousers lay lifeless on the floor from their nights frivolity.  I gather up dirty laundry from two countries  now.  I find myself lost in the glory of scooping up the minor coins that strategically drop from  loosened pockets throughout the house.  I’ll hang onto the Euro’s from Dutch boy until the exchange rate drops to our level, then give him a buy back option…

I will conclude that hosting a foreign exchange student has actually turned out to be a pleasure.  There are no major complications and the language barrier is minimal.  He respects my professionalism I’ve acquired in the experience of teen behavior:  Eye Rolling is International.

Yes, confronting the empty nest syndrome has had some effect on me. It caused me to confront the hollow spaces left behind where dirty laundry and missing History assignments use to congregate.  I always thought when this time came,  I would succumb to the sadness of a half empty house  and wallow and wine as I second guess my parenting skills. Skills that did not include instructions from the onset.  Skills that you obtained through trial and error and all the Dr. Spock books in the world could not prepare you for. Skills that have been handed down from generations  nursing  verbal acuity with four simple words:

“Because I said so….”

Yes, the bars will be lifted soon and I will be set free to roam about the cabin without tripping over size 13 shoes left in the middle of the kitchen floor; accompanied now  with size 12 Faux Wooden clog slippers.  Something tells me my nest won’t be empty for long and my parental ship will not be sailing into the sunset where freedom rings and Chianti flows rampant, and responsibility can take a back seat. Something  out there is still lurking around and sniffing about my feet to fill the void that is soon to come…..

Oh..yea… I forgot………Charly-dog.

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{January 7, 2012}   In one Blog and Out the Other

I love the holidays. I am sorry to see them go.  I believe I could become one of those recluses who keeps their lights and tree up all year long just to keep the spirit alive, and have the home owners association fine me at the same time.

I love Christmas and all the festivities that accompany it.  In the past I use to get annoyed at the fact that the retail businesses would set  up Santa’s workshop in stores shortly after Labor Day, but now I love that the Holiday arrives earlier and earlier every year; It just means I get to revel in that carnival atmosphere a little longer.

Although they start the Christmas phantasm following the  August back to school sales, I still love that I can retreat to the basement and sort through my recently added purchases from last years after Christmas sales.  I don’t know what it is that triggers me to run to the nearest Target or K-mart and thumb through their empty shelves of the previous years leftovers. It is such a gratification to grab a box of netted multi lights for 75% off.   Ohhh…. and hold me back from the singing Elvis ornaments…..I am so glad I didn’t weaken one day and fork out the full price for that…. yes, I am an ornament junkie.

I have  been seen rifling through end caps located in a  targeted area that offer ginormous bins loaded with discarded Christmas paraphernalia in hopes of finding that Lost Ark to add to my temple of doom & gloom that surrounds my house pre- Holiday.

I have had a a house full of people these last few weeks, and enjoyed every minute of it. I love the hustle -n-flow of the teens traipsing through my house leaving trails of candy cane pieces that had set up residence in the couch.  And let’s not forget to mention the patches of dark residue embedded in the carpet fibers, which I mistook for “doggie surprises”, but later turned out to be traces of a Tootsie Roll…………Thank God it wasn’t the other way around.

I am going to miss wading knee deep in the aftermath of torn wrapping paper, and the sticky bows that adhere themselves onto my clothing and go unnoticed until the cashier at the return line in Macy*s peels it off my back like a piece of stinky lint.

My favorite Holiday episode is fighting with colorful tissue remnants stuck to my shoe.  I hated the looks I received when I exited a Sear’s Ladies Room  one day, when I was met with countless stares and titters as my Jimmy Choo waved a white flag from it’s three inch heel.  As I hoofed it past the customer service line, I found myself conjuring up a soliloquy to numerous strangers giggling behind their basket of returns :

“No, really….it’s Christmas tissue……really.…it is...honest…I..I have proof, check the gummy outline on the sole from last years Scotch tape fiasco…”.

The part of Christmas I tend to wrestle the most with is the Tree.  For most of my life we would always indulge in a Real Christmas tree. A Tree that you would stuff family members into a mini van and venture out to a far-a-way farm to spend hours in the cold choosing the right tree  to fit the family room.  I love the smell of Pine in the house and spending days trying to remove the pitch from my hands.  I especially loved the endless upkeep involving never ending vacuuming of piled- up pine needles.  Pine needles that continued to show up throughout the summer.  In fact I think I found a needle from Y2K.

I know this because it was then that I switched to  the fake trees.  They are very life like and are all inclusive.  No need to” just add water…..”.  You take them out of a big box and they pop up and plug in. They have Pine Spray should you miss the scent of a wooded area. The problem is when it’s all over and stuffing that little faker back into its original box.  I find myself in a half nelson with the branches as I roll the tree into the box and ask three people to sit on it until it settles down.  And…I still find myself grabbing the vacuum to suck up Fake pine needles.

I have a friend who has a fake tree in its own Bag.  Her Holiday regime is met with:

First:    Open a bottle of wine and pour a glass …

Second: Open bag and raise slowly from the bottom up and lo and behold an instant tree with lights and ornaments.

Third:    Bottoms Up! And  sit and enjoy the sparkling Spruce while listening to your neighbors cursing at their Evergreens to “stand up straight”.

Yes I love the holidays. The beginning, middle, and end.  I love the aftermath of  de- Ornamenting the tree and placing them back into their  bulbous home and dragging the Tubs to the basement to stow them in an area that is only reachable by a ladder. I love climbing back up the stairs to the bare space in the corner where a naked tree stands pointing it’s fabricated projections at me dangling two forgotten red balls…..

I love arguing with the wintered rose bushes that are holding the outdoor net lights hostage in their thorns.  Every year I keep thinking I’ll return into the house unscathed, but, inevitably I always lose that war of the roses and end up looking like something the cat dragged in……carrying Christmas lights.

LED….less energy……right.

The one thing that was different this year was my daughter having to leave to return to school.  The time seemed to fly by this holiday break and before I knew it she was packing her bags and loading them into the car for the trip back to Happy Valley.   It seems like only yesterday she arrived with baskets of  laundry and suitcases filled a mile high with clothing spewing down a mountainside of of unwashed unmentionables.

Oh..it is such a bittersweet moment when the Holidays end at my house.  One is saddled with the leftovers of  Christmas residuals and the minor deflation of the Spirit gone by the wayside until next year.  I watched through the window of my daughters empty room as the car pulled down the driveway heading down the road back to her future , and I felt a pang of emptiness as I retreated from the window to start the year with some post Christmas cleaning.  I turned around to head towards her closet and there was an unopened gift my daughter  had left behind for me……………

The basket of dirty laundry…….ohhh…. Happy New Year…

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